We need to talk more about Suicidal Thoughts

Having worked in the NSW Community Acute Care mental health sector supporting clients and families impacted by suicide and severe mental health disorders for over 10 years, I have noticed the significant impact the practice of ‘trying to protect self’ – not sharing an individuals suicidal thoughts – can in fact place them in more danger. 

Common reasons why people hold back from sharing these thoughts include fearing they will be locked up, of being ostracised or a burden to their friends, family and community. Suicidal thoughts can be a typical response and a coping strategy for someone that is affected by depression, anxiety or during a situational crisis. Internalising these thoughts can in turn make them stronger, placing the individual more at risk of acting upon them. In talking about these thoughts and seeking support from a therapist will help validate the emotional response and make known what the inner need of the individual might be. In addressing this inner need/vulnerability, the ‘suicidal coping’ will likely decrease. 

We need to reduce the stigma around talking about suicide and start saying it’s ok if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts – there is help and support available. 

Addressing Suicidal Thoughts through Schema Therapy

Through my Schema Therapy approach, I see suicidal thoughts as an ‘unhealthy’ coping strategy. When we are unhappy within a situation, event or a repeated experience we think/find ways of coping or changing the situation and unfortunately suicide is an extreme way of doing this. Therapy can support clients to validate/confirm their emotions, recognise what is in the individual’s control and help find and strengthen alterative and healthier ways to manage. 

Furthermore, through Schema Therapy we may see ‘suicidal thinking/contemplating as a surrendering into our vulnerable (it’s all too hard, I’m not good enough, nobody loves me) child mode. Surrendering is a common early maladaptive way of coping, just like avoiding and overcompensating are the other maladaptive ways of coping. Instead of surrendering into our thoughts and feelings, in Schema Therapy we strengthen and develop our ‘healthy adult mode‘ responses. A healthy adult might then be able to say to the suicidal thoughts, ‘it makes sense you are really struggling right now, but do you see that it is not always this bad/hard?’ 

Australian Suicide Statistics

The Australian Bureau of Statistics latest figures released in September 2023 highlight that males deaths by suicide increased by 2.6% and was the 11th leading cause of death. Whilst in females, suicide decreased by 2.3% from 2021 and was the 26th leading cause of death. 

If you feel trapped by your current inward and external situation, it’s time to seek a partner in support. Connecting Mental Health offers a constellation of tailored therapy services. We understand the courage it takes to reach out, and we honour that by ensuring a caring, personalised approach to your mental health journey. Make the decision today. Contact Connecting Mental Health, where your healing is our priority.

In 2022:
  • 3,249 people died by suicide.

  • The crude death rate for deaths due to suicide was 12.5 per 100,000 people.

  • Suicide was the 15th leading cause of death.


Suicide by age

In 2022:

  • Young and middle-aged people were more likely to die by suicide than those in older age cohorts.

  • 81.7 percent of people who died by suicide were aged under 65 years.

  • People who died by suicide had a median age of 45.6 years compared to 82.2 years for all deaths.

  • The proportional distribution of those aged under 25 who died by suicide differed for males and females:

  • For females, 15.5% of suicides occurred in those aged under 25 years.

  • For males 10.5% of suicides occurred in those aged under 25.


Suicide by sex 

For males in 2022:

  • There were 2,455 deaths due to suicide.

  • Suicide was the 11th leading cause of death.

  • The median age at death for those who died by suicide was 46.0 years. 

  • Over three-quarters (75.6%) of people who died by suicide were male.

  • The suicide rate for males increased by 2.6% from 2021.

For females in 2022:

  • There were 794 deaths due to suicide.

  • Suicide was the 26th leading cause of death. 

  • The median age at death for those who died by suicide was 44.1 years. 

  • The suicide rate for females decreased by 2.3% from 2021.

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