Is counselling appropriate for someone who has attempted suicide or is thinking about suicide?

I was asked recently whether my approach to counselling is suitable for someone who has attempted suicide. The answer to this question is yes absolutely BUT only if you are wanting to do the work of exploring the underlying reasons for your pain and what it is about, in order to move through and out of it.

Sometimes people come to therapy wanting to fix the problem of their symptoms in order to make them go away and not to have to suffer by thinking about them any more. If so things like exercise, nutrition, and activity (including paid and unpaid work) can be helpful, and CBT is good for learning strategies to overcome low mood and anxiety by practicing new behaviour and new ways of thinking. Having been a CBT therapist in the NHS I have seen it help many people.

However if you want to try to look at the root causes of your pain and why it is happening in order to make sense of it, work through it and feel differently about yourself in future then counselling such as the approach I offer is a good choice. I have worked with many people with a history of suicidal feelings and behaviours, as well as people who self harm as a way of coping with their feelings.

In crisis? Help for suicidal feelings

If you are in imminent or serious risk of harming yourself your GP will give you an urgent appointment. Alternatively you can contact one of the following organisations:
Samaritans offer a 24-hours a day, 7 days a week support service. Call them FREE on 116 123. You can also email
Papyrus is a dedicated service for young people up to the age of 35 who are worried about how they are feeling or for anyone concerned about a young person. The great thing about them is they will offer support via sms or text, which can be easier for young people than speaking to someone on the phone. How to contact: Call the HOPElineUK number on 0800 068 4141, text them on 07786 209697 or email
NHS Choices: 24-hour national helpline providing health advice and information. Calls are free and the number to dial is 111.
C.A.L.M.: National helpline for men to talk about any issues they are feeling. Call 0800 58 58 58.
Support After Suicide Partnership offers practical and emotional support on their website for people bereaved and affected by suicide.