One huge predicting factor of suicide is substance abuse. Drug and alcohol abuse alters our brain chemistry and negatively affects our pain/pleasure centers and our ability to make healthy choices. While support groups may work for those dealing with a loss, and therapy and medication can help those dealing with depression, dealing with addiction may require inpatient treatment. It will provide the structure and support necessary to battle one of the hardest problems that humans can face.
When to seek help
People that are not suicidal sometimes have thoughts about suicide. Of course, if you’re actually considering it as an option, you need to seek help. Often it’s hard to diagnose yourself, however. You should seek help if you recognize any of these warning signs in yourself:
- Isolation, including withdrawing from friends, family, and your job.
- Losing passion for things that you once loved to do.
- Aggressive mood swings or major changes in your personality
- The feeling that people/the world would be better off without you.
- An increase in substance use.
- Actual thoughts of self-harm.
The path to emotional wellness
Battling suicidal ideation begins when you start to address the core issues making you feel that way and begin to put yourself on a path to better emotional wellness. Some of this may include talking to someone — a therapist, friend, or clergy member. Or, you may just make gradual changes to your lifestyle. Underlying mental issues such as substance abuse, depression, and anxiety must be addressed.
Diet and exercise can also play a big role in making you feel emotionally whole. What we eat affects not only our bodies but our brains as well. Exercise has been shown to release chemicals in our brains that make us feel happier. If you’re looking to improve your mental health, try to get an hour of exercise every day and cut processed foods, excess sugar, and alcohol from your diet.
Beyond that, sleep, stress reduction, fostering our social connections, and practicing mindfulness (the art of being in the present, not focused on the past or future) can all help you get emotionally well. Also, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician to talk about your treatment options. Many insurance plans cover mental health, and seniors enrolled in Medicare qualify for a yearly depression screening, as well as other forms of care.
Things can get tough, and having suicidal thoughts does not make you weak. It doesn’t make you crazy. Suicidal ideation is common, and you’re not alone. What suicide is, however, is a bad decision disguised as a solution. Your pain is temporary, and it can be helped through a combination of therapy, treatment, lifestyle changes, and a focus on emotional health. You are strong, and you will get better.