Updated: Jan 14
Suicidal thoughts are nothing to take lightly. Ideally, anyone experiencing them would seek out professional help immediately. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes, those thoughts can lead to suicide attempts.
If you’re reading this and you’ve either had those thoughts or attempted to take your own life, understand that you’re already making a positive first step in reading something that can help. Now is the time to keep moving forward, and that should start with suicide therapy.
What is Suicide Therapy?
Suicide therapy is often referred to as CT-SP (Cognitive Therapy for Suicide Prevention). It is a treatment solution specifically designed for adults who have had suicidal thoughts or attempts. It is meant to target those thoughts and behaviors through a structured process.
As such, suicide therapy typically has three phases; early, intermediate, and later.
Like other CBT processes, the sessions are limited, designed to get to the root of the issue and change thought patterns and behaviors in a specific amount of time. When dealing with suicidal thoughts and tendencies, there’s no time to waste.
What to Expect
When you first start suicide therapy, you’ll go through a risk assessment. Your therapist will try to gain important information from you so they can develop a safety plan and ensure that the treatment strategy fits your needs.
You should also expect to discuss your most recent suicidal thoughts or attempts. That isn’t always easy to do, but it’s necessary for the therapist to get an idea of where you are and what might be fueling those thoughts. During the intermediate phase of treatment, you can expect the implementation of behavioral changes and cognitive strategies.
The cognitive strategies can help you to change any beliefs or thoughts you might have that tend to trigger suicidal thoughts. Often, those thoughts stem from untruths or unbelief of something. Being able to recognize those thoughts patterns and change them can make a big difference.
Your therapist will then work with you to develop effective coping skills. When those triggers occur or you start to slip back into those untruths, being able to cope in healthy ways is important, so you don’t end up acting on those thoughts.
Putting It Into Practice
During the final phase of suicide therapy, you can expect to go through some relapse prevention exercises. You’ll use the cognitive and behavioral skills learned to get through imagined exposure to past triggers. That’s why it’s so important to work with a therapist – to determine where those thoughts and behaviors stem from. The more you learn about those triggers and underlying thoughts, the more you can start to tear them down and build healthier habits and coping skills.
Once you’re able to demonstrate those behaviors in imaginary settings, your therapist will likely do another risk assessment. Sometimes, additional treatment may be needed. Often, you’ll be able to continue living your life understanding a bit more about your own thoughts and actions, and how to handle them in healthy ways.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, don’t wait to get help. If you’ve attempted to take your own life, don’t wait to get help. You’re not alone, and you don't have to continue to struggle on your own. Your last attempt may have been "unsuccessful," but seeking out help now will ensure you don't have to get to that point again.
Feel free to contact me if you or someone in your life is dealing with these thoughts. Suicide therapy can make a big difference, and help you to take positive steps forward into the next chapter of your life.