Onebright reflects on UK suicide stats
When tackling suicidal thoughts, CBT aims to help individuals in the following ways:
- Identify the perceived unsolvable problem
- Reduce cognitive distortions and errors in logic when it comes to their perceptions of themselves, others and their future
- Improve problem-solving skills
- Increase their motivation to problem solve
- Reduce perceived emotional pain
- Encourage the acceptance that emotional pain is part of everyday life
Discussing Onebright’s own approach when dealing with suicidal patients, Onebright’s Clinical Director, Lee Grant says
“We are born to problem solve. Understandably, when we are feeling low, hopeless or helpless people can consider all options. Those that experience end of life thoughts just dismiss them and move on to other solutions but if we get stuck, we can return to explore suicide – the feelings of hopelessness, thoughts of wishing it was over (the emotions, problem, life) and its consequences. Looking at problems and solutions from a single perspective can prevent effective problem solving.
Mr Grant continues by stating, ‘Ratelling’ around with end of life thoughts on our own can ironically exacerbate low mood and exacerbate the hopeless and helplessness. Within thirty years of mental health care (7 years in A&E) I have talked to hundreds, if not thousand of people that attempted suicide after the method unexpectedly failed. Very very few come out alive wishing it had worked, it is almost universal to be ‘satisfied’ it didn’t work. None were selfish nor seeing attention– none! Suicidality passes because our emotions, problems and thoughts are all transient.
We have to remember that nothing stays the same, even if we do nothing; things always change. Imagine how things change when we talk to someone with a fresh perspective. That can be just thinking about it differently, offering a new solution, or helping to find treatment.
Suicide is a single option with many roads to it but there are billions and billions of ways out. A starting point might be just telling someone; “sometimes I think it is just not worth going on” and see where that takes you. I have talked to hundreds of families and friends of someone that ended their own life. Sometimes telling them what has happened to hearing their story decades later in therapy. It is universal, they all say “…I wish they talked to me”. Not someone else but to themselves.
The CBT approach to someone at risk of suicide is diverse but generally we focus on effective problem solving – focussing on the helplessness and hopelessness thoughts. This might be about ‘buying time’ to treat a depression; the treatment of depression is the bread and butter of our evidence based.
Mr Grant adds, “Often it is about helping a person actually understand why they want their life to end – what is it that makes life so unbearable? Although it might sound strange but frequently, we find it is the interweave of thoughts and emotions of suicide itself that has become the problem. We have some tools and techniques to help with that. I man I saw earlier in the summer was trying to find out why he felt depressed (he had a classical, what we term as a positive meta-cognitive [thinking about thoughts] belief, if he could just work out why he was feeling depressed he believed he would feel better).
Thinking why he was depressed (thinking about thinking) made him feel worse, becoming one of the riskiest people I had seen in years. Helping to map out how this made him feel worse, helped us to interrupt the spiralling cycle. We could then focus on what we need to do to help him feel better. Another was a woman I saw earlier this year, she was using cocaine and sex to combat feelings of loneliness.
The cocaine gave the confidence to go out meet someone. The combination of one-night-stands and substance-use made her feel low, and more isolated, to cope she had more sex and cocaine. Finding practical solutions to lift the isolation (other than sex and cocaine) was easy once we treated an underlying social anxiety disorder.
For Onebright, the importance of delivering quality mental health care is an important subject. With many people having to wait months on NHS waiting lists and little regulation on private CBT practitioners, Onebright is keen to make people aware of some of the key things to look out for when seeking help from therapists.
As a BABCP accredited organisation, Onebright believes that this gold industry standard for practitioners should be an essential factor for anyone seeking CBT therapy. BABCP certified therapists hold a higher duty of care to their patients, which can offer invaluable support when dealing with suicidal individuals. In this instance, a BABCP therapist has the duty to refer their patient for further and immediate treatment if it becomes clear that the case is beyond their scope of practice.
Onebright specialises in providing evidence-based CBT support for a wide range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, PTSD and OCD. Offering support to organisations and individuals, the organisation are keen to ensure the topic of mental health is addressed across all areas of society.
If you or someone you know may be suffering from depression or battling with suicidal thoughts, call Onebright today.
Do you suspect you are depressed or suffering from anxiety? Take our depression and anxiety test here.