Recovering after a suicide attempt

Following a suicide attempt, you may have conflicting feelings about your experience. It may be that you feel ashamed, confused, relieved, disappointed, or angry that you need help or that you didn’t die. Remember that while all these feelings are probably very intense for you right now, they will pass and a return to normal life is possible.

Recovering after a suicide attempt is a crucial and challenging period in a person’s life. This article aims to provide guidance and support for you to navigate your way back to emotional wellbeing.


Understanding the recovery process

The emotional aftermath of a suicide attempt can be overwhelming, and it’s essential to acknowledge and validate your feelings. You may experience a mix of emotions, such as guilt, shame, and relief. Remember that these feelings are normal and that accepting them is the first step towards healing. The recovery process takes time and being patient with yourself is crucial.

Seeking professional help is important during the recovery process. Mental health professionals, such as therapists and counsellors, play a significant role of support while you navigate the challenges of recovery. They can help you explore and understand the underlying issues that led to the suicide attempt, promote coping strategies, and offer a safe space to express your feelings. They can also help you develop personalised treatment plans, which may include safety planning, therapy, medication, or a combination of each. If you aren’t sure how to access a professional for support during this time, you can contact our service by phone or webchat. You can also speak with your doctor for help with this.


Building a support network

A strong support network is vital during recovery. If possible, share your feelings with trusted friends or family who can provide a listening ear, encouragement, and practical assistance. Try to be open to accepting their help and allow them to be part of your recovery journey. It’s essential to communicate your needs and boundaries with your loved ones, as they may not always know how to provide the best support. Unfortunately, not everyone we might expect or want to support us, is able to do so. If your immediate network cannot, connect with others who can.

Support groups can offer understanding, encouragement, and shared experiences. They provide a safe space for you to discuss your feelings with others who have faced similar challenges. Participation in support groups can help reduce feelings of isolation, foster connections, and provide invaluable insights from others who have been in your shoes. Reach out to local mental health organisations, consult online forums, or search social media platforms for support groups in your area. Your doctor may also be able to help.


Developing healthy coping strategies

1. Prioritising self-care

Taking care of yourself is essential during the recovery process. Self-care refers to various activities we can do for ourselves that promote physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Some self-care practices to consider include:

  • Regular exercise: Engage in physical activities that you enjoy, such as walking, swimming, or yoga, to help reduce stress and improve your mood.
  • Balanced diet: Nourish your body with nutritious meals that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
  • Adequate sleep: Prioritise getting enough rest each night to support your body’s healing process and maintain emotional balance. Be mindful though of oversleeping. It helps to have a daily schedule, with regular times for getting up, going to bed and eating, even if you have no real plans. Avoid things that stimulate your mind before going to bed.
  • Engaging in hobbies: Participate in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as reading, gardening, painting, or playing an instrument.


2. Mindfulness and relaxation techniques

Practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques can help manage stress and anxiety, which are common experiences during recovery. They can also assist with sleep. Some techniques to consider include:

  • Deep breathing exercises: Practice taking slow, deep breaths to help calm your mind and reduce stress.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: This technique involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups to release physical tension and promote relaxation.
  • Guided imagery: Use your imagination to visualise peaceful and calming scenes, helping to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
  • Meditation: Regular meditation can help increase self-awareness, reduce negative thoughts, and promote a sense of inner peace.


3. Journaling

Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a helpful way to process emotions and gain clarity during your recovery journey. Journaling allows you to express yourself openly and honestly, without fear of judgment. No one else needs to read them, so they are your safe space. You can write about your experiences, emotions, progress, and setbacks. This can help you track your healing process, identify patterns or triggers, and serve as a valuable outlet for self-expression.


4. Setting goals

Setting small, achievable goals can provide a sense of purpose and direction during recovery. Goals can be related to your mental health, personal interests, or relationships. Break down larger goals into smaller steps and celebrate your progress along the way. Remember to be flexible and patient with yourself, as the path to recovery may not always be linear.


Creating a safety plan

A safety plan is an essential tool in preventing future crises. It can provide a sense of control and offer guidance during moments of emotional distress. A comprehensive safety plan should include the following elements:

  1. Identifying warning signs: Recognise the triggers or early signs of emotional distress that may signal a potential crisis.
  2. Listing coping strategies: Identify healthy ways to cope with challenging emotions, such as engaging in physical activity, practicing relaxation techniques, or reaching out to your support network.
  3. Contact information for support network and professionals: Include phone numbers, email addresses, and other relevant contact details for friends, family, and mental health professionals who can provide assistance during times of crisis.
  4. Emergency resources: Include phone numbers for crisis hotlines or emergency services, as well as addresses for nearby hospitals or mental health clinics.



While many of us are naturally able to show compassion to others in their times of need, it can be more difficult to treat ourselves with the same level of patience and care.

Self-compassion means treating yourself with kindness and understanding during difficult moments. It involves acknowledging your suffering, recognising that you are not alone in your struggles, and treating yourself with the same care and concern you would offer a loved one. Cultivating self-compassion can help reduce self-criticism and promote emotional healing.

Recovering after a suicide attempt is a difficult yet crucial period in one’s life. By understanding and working of each of these areas, you can take control of your healing journey. Remember that help is available, and seeking professional guidance is key to overcoming the challenges you may face. Embrace the support from loved ones and take each day one step at a time. With perseverance and self-compassion, you can bounce back and find your way to a happier, healthier future.

Don’t let it build up. SuicideLine Victoria is a free 24/7 telephone and online counselling service offering professional support to people who are concerned about their emotional and mental health. Call 1300 651 251. If it is an emergency, call 000.

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