Having suffered from life-threatening bouts of depression for four years before my eventual recovery at the start of 2012, I have a lot of experience with feeling suicidal. Here's my list of 10 things to do when you're in that awful place where you feel as if all hope is lost.
Whether you tell a friend, a family member, a doctor, your therapist or call your local suicide hotline, you really should tell someone. When you're suicidal, the most dangerous person you can be with is yourself, so by involving someone else, you drastically decrease the chances of you acting on your thoughts. Talking to someone also helps you realise that you're not alone, and of course, it always makes you feel better when you get things off your chest.
2.Get emergency help if your thoughts don't go away.
Sometimes you can be in so much pain that even talking to someone won't make you feel better. At this stage, the safest thing you can do for yourself is to get emergency help. Try and get a friend or family member to take you to hospital (you shouldn't drive yourself); if it's not possible for anyone else to take you, then call emergency services and ask for them to pick you up. Don't feel embarrassed or that your case isn't "serious enough" to warrant emergency services - they're there to help you, and if you feel you're in danger of killing yourself, then that certainly qualifies as an emergency.
3.Seek long-term help as well.
If you're feeling suicidal, then you really should be seeing a doctor or a psychiatrist (to prescribe you medication if they feel you need to be taking it), and a therapist (to help you determine what's triggering your suicidal thoughts and to help you learn how to manage those triggers in such as a way so that they no longer trigger any suicidal thoughts in the future).
4.Avoid drugs and alcohol.
Elicit substances can often exacerbate suicidal thoughts, so when you're in that place, drinking or taking drugs is the last thing you should be doing.
5.Make your environment safe.
Remove all things from your home that you could use to hurt yourself. If you're on medication and are thinking of taking an overdose, give your pills to someone who can doll them out to you one day at a time.
6.Remind yourself of why you've held on for so long.
Whether it be your kids, your parents, your partner, your friends, your pet, art, music, a dream you want to achieve or anything else, I'm sure you have a reason why you haven't given in up until this point. Remind yourself of that reason. Hold onto it. And never let it go.
7.Do something to distract yourself.
Whether it be watching your favourite TV show, listening to your favourite music, playing your favourite sport, eating your favourite food or anything else, try and do something that you enjoy doing to distract yourself from your pain. This really can work - I can't tell you how many times I've turned up to play a basketball game feeling suicidal but then forgotten all about my anguish in the heat of the match.
8.Write down all the names of your friends and family members.
These are all the people whose hearts you're going to break if you do end your life. Knowing this always gave me - and many other people I've since met who've also been suicidal - a huge reason to keep on fighting.
Started by the amazingly caring mental health advocate Carrie Shade, #ProjectLG is an initiative that gives people who are suicidal a "lifeguard". Log onto Twitter and search for the hashtag; anyone who has it in their bio is someone who's identified themselves as a "lifeguard", meaning that you're welcome to contact them if you're feeling suicidal and they'll be there to listen.
10.Remind yourself that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
When I was feeling suicidal, I was so convinced that I'd never get better. I was 100% sure of it. But in time, I found a medication and worked for me, I started benefiting immensely from therapy, I learned a lot from self-help books, and I committed to living an active, healthy lifestyle. The result was that I managed to recover, and I'm now happier and healthier than I've ever been.
And I'm here to tell you that depression is a liar.
Recovery IS possible - even if you can't always see it.
So instead of giving in, seek help instead.
One day, when you've recovered, you'll be so grateful that you did.
If you enjoyed reading this post, you're welcome to download a free copy of my memoir here, which tells the story of my struggle and eventual triumph over depression.
Need help? In the UK, call The Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90. For more support and advice, visit the website here.