12 Strategies to Use When Someone with DID Is Suicidal
Trigger warning: this post contains a frank discussion of suicide.
The time to talk about suicide and dissociative identity disorder (DID) is now. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in adults.1 For those with dissociative identity disorder (DID), the Cleveland Clinic asserts that 70 percent of sufferers,2 more than any other mental health condition, have tried to die by suicide. Discussion of suicidality is no longer optional. It is imperative that we end its stigma and discuss it now. There are 12 coping strategies and skills you can use to help those who are suffering and wanting to die by suicide. What specifically can those with DID do to help themselves and their headmates cope with the overwhelming desire to end their pain?
12 Strategies for Coping with Suicidal Thoughts with DID
- Find a reason to live, even if it's just to get you to the next moment. When my mom passed away unexpectedly last year, I was devastated. No one could have prepared me for a loss so huge. I thought seriously about suicide, but I came up with reasons to live. First, I couldn't allow my dad to bury another person whom he loved, nor could I let my husband. And, to some, it might seem silly, but I also could not kill myself because of my dog, Maybelline. I knew she would wonder why I was no longer there to greet her, give her treats, and take her on walks. I didn't want anyone or anything else hurting the way I was hurting. It is important to acknowledge that finding a reason to live did not conquer my feelings of wanting to die; I found something outside of myself to keep me living, even if it only helped a little bit at a time.
- If your alters/headmates are suicidal, ask them to promise not to do anything right then at the moment. Ask them to wait five minutes. Then after the five minutes have passed, ask them if they can try to wait another five minutes. Keep stalling your headmate until the feelings pass or help arrives.
- Remind your headmate that relief and death are not the same things. Let your headmate know that you understand they just want to find relief from their pain, but they won't be able to experience the sweet relief that will eventually come if they are dead.
- When you are suicidal and you can't find any solutions, realize it's not that the solutions don't exist. Your headmate is just currently unable to see the fix, and that is okay. This is why other headmates and therapists, friends, and spiritual guides can help them to understand there are solutions, even if your headmate cannot see them.
- As a healthy headmate, gather together with other concerned headmates and write or draw what you hear and feel from them, showing the suicidal headmate how much internal support they have.
- Allow the suicidal headmate to draw pictures of how he/she is feeling. These pictures may be gruesome, but they are only pictures and they allow the headmate to show the pain that is reflective of what they are going through.
- Allow the headmate to use a red marker to "cut" on him/herself through drawing. This act simulates a suicidal gesture and the headmate receives a visual, but this pseudo-cutting might hold the suicidal headmate over until he/she starts to feel better or help arrives.
- Sit with the suicidal headmate and let her write out her suicide letters. First and foremost, the suicidal headmate should know that these letters will not be acted upon and will not be available to her afterward, but this is another tool that allows her to express herself in non-violent means.
- When your headmate is feeling suicidal, do something that will help her know the DID system will be there for her when she is needing it, such as giving your headmate her favorite foods or allowing her to watch her favorite movie.
- Let the suicidal headmate listen to some of those "sad songs" Elton John writes about. In my situation, being numb is a trigger for wanting to end my life, so I put on music that matches my insides and it offers me some comfort until I can be safe again.
- Some DID insiders have said that prayer helps them push through the crisis. In addition, everyone should hold a safe space inside where no tolerance is allowed for criticizing or judging those sensitive subjects like religion, politics, etc.
- Plan ahead. As previously stated, 70 percent of those with dissociative identity disorder try to die by suicide. Make a list of coping strategies of your own. Give the list to multiple people that can help you. And always remember, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Feelings come and go. Your life will not.
The Best Suicide Coping Skill for DID
No one strategy is better than the other. They are all just different ways to cope, so keep trying to find the right one for you and your headmates if it is needed. As number 12 mentions, plan ahead. Try to prepare what you will do before anyone feels like dying by suicide. Conference with your headmates. Let all alters know you care about them and ask each one to pick a strategy that they feel would be useful to keep them safe.
More than anything, do not go through this alone. Reach out to someone, anyone. And be assured, no matter how much pain you have had to endure, you have the potential to create a life you will enjoy. Do not give up and let suicide prematurely end your ability to live a happy life.
If you feel you may hurt yourself or someone else, please dial 9-1-1 immediately.
For more information on suicide, see our suicide information, resources and support section. For additional mental health help, please see our mental health hotline numbers and referral information section.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Suicide Statistics. Accessed September 2019.
- Cleveland Clinic, Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder). Last reviewed April 20, 2016.
Hargis, B. (2019, September 11). 12 Strategies to Use When Someone with DID Is Suicidal , HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 2 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/dissociativeliving/2019/9/12-strategies-to-use-when-someone-with-did-is-suicidal
Author: Becca Hargis
I don't know what to do or even if I'm in the right place, but I'm at the end of my rope
You are absolutely in the right place. I am so sorry that you are feeling so desperate. I have felt similarly, and you can trust me when I say there is hope.
If you feel you are in immediate danger of hurting yourself or someone else, please dial 9-1-1 immediately. Do not wait.
If you feel suicidal or you're in a crisis situation and need immediate assistance, people at these suicide hotlines in the U.S. are there to help.
1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) - National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE) - National Hopeline Network
1-866-488-7386 (1-866-4.U.TREVOR aimed at gay and questioning youth)
You may also follow the link below for additional resources.
I wish you the very best. Please know it does get better.
My unhelpful drunk contribution to this comment thread:
I have this awful mental illness too. The way I think and feel most days is extremely painful. Most days, I spend large chunks of time obsessed with thoughts of ending my life and have been doing so for the past few years. Most days when I get home from work I drink until I fall asleep. Over the past two years, I’ve basically turned into a low key, functioning alcoholic.
I’m fortunate enough to have a pretty decent support system and a good therapist who has a really good understanding of DID but this shit sucks ass and I’m fucking tired of dealing with this illness and being sad all the time. Fuck me i guess, lol.
Linda, are you okay?
If you’d like to talk to someone via email or something, I care and I’d be open to that. You can create a new, free email account specifically for this purpose. Just write it out here, and I’ll contact you, I promise.
I have felt very hopeless many times, so I know some of what you’re going through. I’m very recently diagnosed with DID, so if that is part of what has you feeling hopeless, I can empathize with you.
Mostly, I’d just like to be supportive for you.
Hi, C. Thank you for being part of our supportive online community. Your participation is very valuable. If you would like to ensure Linda receives your message, please go to her comment below yours and hit "reply" so your comment will go directly to her. Thank you.
I have no hope