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Suicidal thoughts and feelings

Suicidal thoughts/feelings are a natural response to trauma.

.Trauma can cause overwhelming feelings that may make you feel like you cannot cope any longer. It may be impossible to imagine life without this pain. Feeling/thinking like this can be exhausting and can be very frightening.

How do suicidal feelings affect survivors of sexual violence?

Sexual violence is traumatic and can affect self-esteem and self-confidence. Many survivors of sexual violence experience emotions including shock, fear, anger, shame, guilt and betrayal. After effects can include panic attacks, flashbacks or nightmares which can increase distress and make it feel as if there is no way of moving on from what happened.
Many survivors do not have the support they need at the time. They may see suicide as a way of escaping from overwhelming pain and distress; or as a way of taking back control.
Suicidal feelings can be confusing. You may not want to die. But you may feel that you can no longer cope with what happened or how you feel now. Many people think about suicide at some time in their life. If you are finding that you are thinking about how you would end your life, or if you have a history of attempting suicide, then it is important to get help straight away.

What you can do: self-care tips for survivors

  • Remember that you and your safety are important.
  • Remember that anyone can feel suicidal at some point in their life. Although it may not feel like it, it is possible to heal from sexual violence and have better times ahead. The way you are feeling now may change over time and with support
  • It is helpful to talk to someone. Simply talking can help with the feelings. This could be a trusted friend or relative, your GP, a mental health worker. You can also talk to the us our the Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline on 08088 01 03 02. Make sure that you speak to someone safe who will believe you and not judge you. You can get individual support or join a support group if you would like to meet other survivors with similar experiences. Sharing experiences with others who have gone through the same as you have can help.
  • When you feel alone and in crisis (for example in the middle of the night) you can phone Samaritans, Breathing Space or Rape Crisis Scotland. Samaritans is available 24 hours a day. You may also be able to get email, online and face-to-face support.
  • If you feel you cannot talk to anyone, write it down.
  • Think about what stopped you acting before now. What are your reasons for living?
  • Try to avoid:
  • Being alone: this can make the thoughts worse. Try doing something to take your mind off your thoughts such as visiting a friend
  • Thinking about suicide as this can make suicidal thoughts stronger
  • Alcohol and drugs as these lower your inhibitions and can make you act impulsively
  • Driving
  • Things that make you feel upset such as certain music, films, photos
  • Learn techniques which can help you manage the intense feelings and reactions which make you think about suicide. They may not stop the thoughts but they may stop you acting on them. This includes:
  • Talking to someone supportive (we can help with this)
  • Building up self-esteem and self-confidence and reducing self-blame
  • Reducing stress and anxiety
  • Relaxation and breathing techniques
  • Exercise, activity and distraction
  • Keep yourself ‘grounded’. It can help if you stick to a daily routine, with regular times for getting up, going to bed, eating and relaxing. Do things that make you feel better and keep your mind occupied (such as reading, sport, doing a class). Eat a well-balanced diet. Eating little and often may help you to avoid over- or under-eating. Reduce or avoid using alcohol and drugs. They may help you feel better in the short-term but can lead to longer-term problems.
  • Make a plan to help you stay safe. When you feel suicidal, it is hard to think clearly and rationally. Having a plan means you have a list of people and organisations you can contact, and things you can do to keep yourself as safe as possible. Keep it somewhere to hand.

You can find out more in our guide on coping after sexual violence.


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If you would like to make an appointment or want to discuss how you're feeling, get in touch.