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Suicidal thoughts & Self-harm

Suicidal thoughts and self-harm are serious issues that no one should face alone. If you're struggling, know that help is available and reaching out is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Understanding suicidal thoughts

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It can be terrifying when thoughts of ending your life start to surface. You might feel like it's the only way out, but it's important to remember that help is always available. Around 20% of New Zealanders might wrestle with similar thoughts at some point, so you're definitely not alone in this.

These thoughts often stem from past experiences, current hardships, or the stresses piling up in life. For some, the reasons behind these thoughts are unclear, adding to the confusion and distress. Stressful life events like breakups, injuries, or being away from family can make these thoughts even more intense. If you notice these feelings are getting stronger, it's a sign to seek help immediately.

Recognising the signs


When it comes to suicidal thoughts and self-harm, here are some key indicators to look out for:

  • Feeling like you're trapped with no way out.
  • Overwhelming hopelessness that doesn't seem to ease.
  • Believing that you're a burden to friends and family.
  • Considering or making specific plans to end your life.
  • Pulling away and isolating yourself from loved ones.
  • Beginning to give away cherished possessions.

Strategies for coping

The biggest step you can take is to talk to someone about it. Whether it's a friend or a professional, having a conversation can help lift some of the weight you may be feeling. Creating a plan with clear, simple steps and important contact numbers can also provide a sense of security. Sometimes, it's the little things like a distraction box filled with personal comforts, or reminders of past coping strategies that can make a big difference. If you're feeling unsafe, reaching out for help and staying in a safe environment should be your top priority.

  • Talk to someone

    A friend, whānau member or someone you trust who can offer support.

  • Make a plan

    Write down steps to take when feeling unsafe.

  • Get professional help

     Therapists can provide strategies to improve how you feel.

  • Make a distraction box:

    Fill it with items that comfort you or bring joy.

  • Keep safe

    Reach out immediately if you're at risk of harm.


Understanding self-harm

Self-harm or self-injury is when you deliberately hurt or injure yourself but without necessarily wanting to die. While it may provide temporary relief, it can lead to a cycle of pain that affects both mental and physical wellbeing.

Having thoughts of wanting to harm yourself can be very scary. Understanding how we are feeling and why is a good place to start and can help us learn healthier ways of coping with our emotions. Scroll below to find out more.

Strategies & tips

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Express it

Finding a practical way to express emotions can be really helpful for some people. You could try something creative like drawing, painting or playing an instrument.

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Take 15

When you feel the urge to self-harm, challenge yourself to wait 15 minutes and try some of the other strategies mentioned here. Delaying self-harm can give you time and space to let the intense feelings reduce.

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Understand it

Try keeping a diary of your reasons and triggers for self-harming. Try writing down your thoughts and feelings at the time as well as any events or situations that may have prompted you to feel that way. This will help you to know your triggers so you can avoid or manage them in the future.

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Tell someone

Reaching out to someone when you are feeling the urge to self-harm can be a massive help. You don’t have to tell them about your urges if you feel uncomfortable, but even just talking about your emotions can help reduce their intensity.

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Get your heart rate up

Try doing some kind of vigorous exercise that gets you breathing hard and sweating. Running, biking up hill, pushups and weights are all great options and can help relieve some of the tension or emotion that you’re feeling.


Find help

If the thoughts are overwhelming and persistent, seek immediate help.

Finding support

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It's crucial to understand that seeking help is not a sign of weakness but a courageous step towards recovery. Whether it's reaching out to a trusted individual or a professional, it's important to share what you're going through. If your attempts to get help aren't successful at first, don't give up. It's important to keep asking until you find the support you need. In an emergency situation, calling 111 or going to the nearest hospital is imperative.

With the right support and strategies, it's possible to overcome these challenges and find a path to recovery. Remember, reaching out is the first and most important step you can take.

You can find helplines here