The number of students taking their own lives is on the rise in Hong Kong. It’s no wonder: researchers warn we’re in the midst of a mental health crisis. For people of all ages, levels of stress, anxiety and depression is at an all-time high.
Sometimes life, for a plethora of reasons, feels too much. And people, overwhelmed by painful emotions, may feel suicidal or have suicidal thoughts. Some see death as their only way out. They lose sight of the fact that suicide is a ‘permanent’ response to a ‘temporary’ state. Our lives are ever-changing: there is always hope. Having supported people who have suicidal impulses, we know people who feel hopeless can go on to live full and healthy lives.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal impulses, we urge you to reach out. You’re not alone. We can support you or that someone through difficult times and restore a sense of hope again.
While anyone can become suicidal, there are certain risk factors that make suicide more likely:
- Previous suicide attempt(s)
- Other recent, significant losses, such as the loss of a relationship or job Chronic illness or pain
- Alcohol and drug abuse (as this can lower inhibitions and increase impulsiveness)
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Mental health conditions, such as anxiety, panic attacks, depression, eating disorders
- Acute psychological conditions, such as schizophrenia, bipolar, borderline, psychosis
- An ongoing sense of loneliness
Suicide is often difficult to predict but there are warning signs that warrant urgent attention:
- Depression or other mental illnesses
- Unshakeable feelings of failure, hopelessness, self-hatred or worthlessness
- Increased social isolation
- Talking directly or indirectly about wanting to die or “not be around”
- Significant changes in appearance and hygiene
- Giving away valued possessions; making other preparations for death
- Believing that suicide is the only way to stop the pain
Getting some immediate support: Talk to an experienced counsellor, psychologist or psychotherapist:
The central experience of suicidal thinking is hopelessness. Getting help early, whether by talking to a helpline, therapist, doctor or friend, is the best way to respond to that feeling. Crisis is often temporary and by speaking to someone else you can learn how to manage these intense feelings and thoughts in the immediate term, as well as get help and build resources in the medium term.
Our minds can make the pain we experience feel very permanent but, in moments of reason and clarity, we understand our lives are ever-changing. IMI’s mental health practitioners can provide a safe space where you can be heard, where you can heal, and where you can see a way forward. Through connection and compassion, they can work with you to become aware of and accept your emotions in a constructive way that isn’t so overwhelming. And they can help you explore what lies beneath suicidal thoughts.
Working hand-in-hand with you, they can create a personalised plan that will support you day-to-day, helping you find pleasure and hope again, and encouraging you to take each moment of your life one step at a time.
Soothing your body, mind and nervous system: An integrated approach
If you or someone you know has been experiencing suicidal thoughts, it is likely the body systems have been on overdrive or depleted for some time. Committed to your care, we take an integrated approach to your mental and emotional wellbeing, seeking to address every facet that may be challenging you. Depending on your unique circumstances and with your consent, our mental health practitioners may work hand-in-hand with other specialists to nourish and rebalance your overall system. In this way, we can address related problems too, like insomnia, depression or substance misuse.
Further resources and help:
Here are some hotlines and online resources if you’re concerned a friend or a loved one is at immediate risk:
- 24-hour Samaritans multi-lingual Suicide Prevention hotline: +852 2896 0000
- 24-hour hotline at Suicide Prevention Services (predominantly Cantonese-speakers): +852 2382 0000
Local services are stretched at the moment. But don’t give up. Here are some links to additional resources:
Mind HK: Click on https://www.mind.org.hk/find-help-now/ to view a thorough list of helplines to address your specific needs.
Suicide stop international help centre: These are safe, moderated online spaces where you can speak your mind, either one to one with a professional or in forums with others feeling similarly.