Constant thoughts of suicide and loneliness (What does it mean)

If you have been experiencing intrusive thoughts related to suicide or overwhelming thoughts of loneliness, it could be possible that you are experiencing symptoms of depression. 

It is advisable that you seek out professional health to help you cope with these feelings of loneliness and isolation. Suicidal ideation is also a major symptom of depression and warrants immediate intervention. 

Let us take a moment to understand what you are experiencing and empower you to cope with it.

What are suicidal thoughts?

Suicidal thoughts, or suicide ideation, refer to thoughts about or planning suicide. They can range from a fleeting thought to a thought-out plan of how to attempt suicide. They are a sign of a deeper problem such as depression and warrants intervention.

Suicidal thoughts are common and many people experience them, especially during times of stress or if they are suffering from other physical or mental disorders. 

Signs of possible suicidal ideation:

  • Talking about suicide
  • Preparing the means to take your own life, such as buying a gun or stockpiling pills
  • Withdrawing from social circles
  • Having mood swings
  • Preoccupation with death
  • Feelings of being trapped or hopelessness
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns
  • Doing risky or self-destructive things
  • Giving away belongings or getting affairs in order when there’s no other logical explanation for doing this

Causes of Suicidal ideation

There are many factors that lead to developing suicidal thoughts these can include:

  • Psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, PTSD, mood disorders, personality disorders
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Abusive environments
  • Having physical or health conditions
  • Unsupportive family
  • Traumatic life events
  • Unwanted change in life
  • Death and grief
  • Guilt and remorse
  • Shame and ostracization due to sexual or gender identity
  • Influence of drugs and alcohol

Suicide and Loneliness

Loneliness is an aversive emotion occurring when a person feels isolated and alienated due to their social relationships being deficient in some way- meaning that their social relationships do not meet their psychosocial needs.

Loneliness has been found to impact physical and psychological well-being and has been connected to cardiac disease and immune deficiency and mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. 

It is a common experience and the recent global crisis with an emphasis on social distancing and isolation has aggravated the rates of this emotional experience. 

Research has found that loneliness was a significant predictor of later suicide ideation and/or behavior and more common in the age group of 16-26 and age group above 55.

Another study found that the higher the degree of loneliness the more intense the suicidal ideation and intent.

Studies also find that Suicidal ideation and loneliness have a common link in depression. Individuals that are diagnosed with depression tend to have both these experiences- often to intrusive degrees.

Interventions to cope with Suicidal ideation and Loneliness

If you are having thoughts of suicide that is accompanied by feelings of loneliness, it is vital to get help as soon as possible.

Here are some things you can do to take the first step towards coping:

Seek professional help

Seek out professional help when these thoughts don’t improve after a week or two even after you have tried to manage them alone. 

It is also imperative that you seek out help when the intensity of these thoughts and feelings disrupt your ability to function and meet the demands of your daily life. 

When loneliness turns to thoughts and feelings of hopelessness it can aggravate your suicidal ideation, this is a major symptom of depression. So seeking out professional help becomes necessary. 

Distract your self

Of course, your therapist will teach you coping strategies but until then, one of the best things you can do when you feel these thoughts of suicide and loneliness come to mind is to distract yourself.

Watch a familiar movie or listen to a song that reminds you of good times. Reach out to a friend to have a nice day out, or even just a phone call to talk about everything or nothing, depending on how you see fit. 

Challenge your thoughts

Thoughts of loneliness and worthlessness that often accompany suicidal ideation are often regarded as irrational thoughts and beliefs. 

When such thoughts arise, you can challenge them but listing your positive assets and the victories that you have achieved.

Challenging your irrational beliefs with your strengths can be one of the best skills you can learn. If it is too difficult to do it yourself, ask a trusted friend to help you.

Consider other options of support

If your close friends are unavailable due to other commitments, consider reaching out to your therapist. 

Scheduling an appointment might be daunting and you mind minimizes your feelings but you have to remember, your therapist has the responsibility to help you get through this. They will be open to scheduling an appointment with you as soon as possible.

If your appointment is too far away, seek out support groups for people who struggle with loneliness, depression, or suicidal ideation.

Push yourself to reach out

Reaching out is difficult especially if you find social interaction challenging. However, building up the courage to do so is a vital strength that we all have. 

Using that courage to reach out to someone in spite of your fears is something that you need to push yourself to do.

Do things you enjoy

When you have a rough day, put effort to do something that you enjoy at the end of the day. 

It can be listening to your favorite band, or watching reruns of your favorite cartoon shows. Take time to give yourself that rest and that comfort of famililarity and fun.

Show yourself compassion 

When thoughts of loneliness and suicide creep into your mind, it is then that you must treat yourself with the utmost kindness.

The world has been unkind and unfair to you, so how about we try to be kind to ourselves at least. Kindness can be in the form of positive self talk in place of the mean things you think and say about yourself. 

It can be telling yourself that it is okay to feel upset and lost, that you are living this life for the first time. It is okay to make mistakes. 

It can even be giving yourself a hug and making yourself a delicious meal even when you feel undeserving of care. 

Engage in regulating your emotions

One of the most effective ways to deal with feelings of loneliness and suicidal ideation is to remember that these experiences could arise due to emotional distress. Taking initiative to regulate and take control over your emotions is one way to deal with this experience. 

Regulating emotions include the following:

  • Identify your feelings using the wheel of emotion., identify the thoughts that come with your emotions.
  • Acknowledge the way you feel, do not react to it, but simply acknowledge by affirming the experience with words like: “I am feeling this way because of XYZ.”
  • Normalize it. “It is normal to feel upset, everyone feels upset.”
  • Take a breather. Engage in deep breathing or meditation.
  • Take a moment to consider the situation in an objective manner. Challenge your irrational beliefs and thoughts.
  • Broaden your mind to consider other choices of action rather than an emotional outburst. Eg: journaling or drawing out your feelings, talking to a friend, singing a song, cooking a meal. 
  • Once time has passed and you are able to think objectively from the insight you have gained, plan your course of action to resolve the issue if there is a need for a resolution. 
  • Let go and move forward. Sometimes the issue at hand cannot be solved, sometimes it may take time, and some situations do not give us closure. Understanding this can help you refocus your attention to things you can control, let go of the distressing situation, and move forward.

Frequently asked questions related to “Constant thoughts of suicide and loneliness (What does it mean and what to do about it?)”

How to stop suicidal thoughts?

Here are five steps to stop suicidal thoughts the moment you have them:

  • Remove yourself from the cause of distress, be it work related or maybe a family member who causes you stress. It could even be the lonely room that you are in. 

It is important that you experience a change in the environment which can help clear your mind. 

  • Breathe. Take a moment to breathe, deep breathing exercises can help you relax and refocus. Take stock of the thoughts and feelings as you breathe in, and let them go as you breathe out.
  • Refocus your attention on things that bring you peace. It can be difficult to refocus your attention away from harm but with practice, you can get the hang of it. You can choose to focus on the sounds around you, or take in the space that is infront of you. You can also massage yourself with your hands or relax tense muscles.
  • Reach out to a support system; call a helpline, friends or family, or even a support group.
  • Remind yourself of recovery and the fact that it is possible to cope and survive these feelings and thoughts.

Why do I get suicidal when I get upset?

An individual may feel suicidal when they are no longer able to cope with emotional distress that they are facing.

It is not that each emotional distress causes suicidal ideation but rather an accumulation of various stressors and inability to regulate emotions can lead the person to feel frustrated and hopelessness in their predicament. 

They may be unable to see that they can come up with various solutions and that they have many choices which may lead them to contemplate suicide.

Why do i feel suicidal at work?

Work related suicidal ideation can be caused due to many factors. Some of them include:

  • dissatisfaction in the roles and responsibilities of the role.
  • Lack of motivation and drive
  • Purposelessness and meaning in the work place
  • Harassment and violence in the work place by peers or higher ups
  • Extreme pressure to perform well
  • No work life balance
  • Personal issues and other mental health related issues
  • Sense of isolation and alienation in the work place

Why do i feel lonely?

Causes of loneliness can include mental illness, discrimination, unhealthy relationships, and find themselves to be different from others in various ways. 

One can find themsleves feeling lonely at any point and time and it often comes with the realisation that they are dissatisfied with the quality of their relationships which may fail to meet their emotional and psychological needs.

What is the cure for loneliness?

Understanding an individual’s assumption and their behaviour towards themselves and the world and how these work against their desire to connect with others can be one way to cure loneliness. One of the most effective methods in psychology is CBT Cognitive Behaviour therapy that looks into assumptions and irrational beliefs that affect behaviour and thoughts.

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