It’s ideal if you can stop all the suicidal thoughts. That’s preferable, but it might not be possible right now.
I get it.
It can be frustrating, uncontrollable, nonstop, and exhausting to keep up with the suicidal thoughts. There can be intense pain even after the crisis point, and it could be barely tolerable.
I’m not going to ask you to change all of it right now. I’m only going to ask you to pause.
I’m going to ask you to give yourself a break from planning or preparing or working out details or getting things ready or putting things in place. You can choose what not to do, even if you can’t direct your thoughts or take positive actions right away. You can stop doing or moving towards death.
There are alternatives to consider, but I’m going to need your help with checking them out because you are the expert on you. You deserve full attention for all of your life or death decisions. And you can’t give 100% attention to considering other life possibilities while also working on death possibilities.
“I wish I could make your suicidal thoughts disappear, but I can’t. What I can do is teach you how to get through those excruciating moments when every cell in your brain and body is screaming I want to die.”
– Susan Rose Blauner
The main idea for pausing is to take a step back from your suicide plans.
The purpose is to give yourself the time to consider other options including ones you might not know about yet, or you already know but can’t remember right now.
If you’re moving through a thick fog, you can only do what’s right in front of you. Why not stop and let it clear some before going on your way? Pain clouds our minds, like a thick fog.
We can stop sliding toward suicide by making a few simple changes to a plan.
“When things begin accelerating wildly out of control, sometimes patience is the only answer. Press pause.”
– Douglas Rushkoff
Suicidal urges would get so intense that it felt like I needed to do something right away to make them stop. The intensity varied though. Maybe it was at 100% at one time, but maybe in an hour it would be at 80%, and maybe tomorrow it would be at 50%.
This isn’t the only kind of pain where pausing makes sense. With hunger there is this pressure to do something right now, but I know it’s not true. I do need to get some food, probably soon, but I also know I’m not going to instantly starve if I don’t drop everything else I’m doing so I can get food right away.
It’s the same with suicidal feelings. I acknowledge it. The pain is real and it can be severe. I know there is some reason for having such intense feelings. There probably is something wrong that needs to change so I can feel better.
I also know that I don’t have to do anything with it if I choose not to, and I definitely don’t have to just drop everything else to follow that urge right away.
Being able to do that, to pause, saved me from many potential suicidal actions over the years.
Almost every suicide risk model shows that while suicidal thoughts are a cause for concern, only suicidal actions are dangerous.
That is why the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Imminent Risk Policy seeks to stop you from suicidal action, and does not have the unrealistic goal of immediately stopping any suicidal thoughts.
Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Risk Standards indicate that the availability and seeking of lethal means presents a danger. The idea behind pausing is to interrupt any move towards seeking or using lethal means, thus decreasing the danger.
Finally, contemporary suicide risk models indicate that detailed plans are more dangerous than general plans, and adding a pause or interruption creates a change in plans which allows time for intense feelings to subside if possible.