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Those suffering from mental health issues or contemplating suicide can reach out to the Mental Health Psychosocial Support Service (03-2935 9935 / 014-322 3392); Talian Kasih (15999 / 019-261 5999 on WhatsApp); Jakim’s (Department of Islamic Development Malaysia) family, social and community care centre (0111-959 8214 on WhatsApp); and Befrienders Kuala Lumpur (03-7627 2929 or go to befrienders.org.my/centre-in-malaysia for a full list of numbers nationwide and operating hours, or email sam@befrienders.org.my).

Dear Thelma,

I have felt suicidal but I dismissed it.

Then I did a psychological test and found out that I am mildly suicidal. Due to the recent events during the pandemic and because my exam is coming soon, I’m worried that I will get worse.

Thelma, every time that I think something is my fault, I always think of suicide by taking sleeping pills.

But when I think of my parents and how they will react if I do it, that makes me stop thinking about it. So I made a small promise to myself to not be suicidal.

But what if this gets worse? Every time I think about it, I become worried. I have not told my parents about it.

Through writing, I am able to give vent to the suicidal thoughts and not think about them any longer, but still I’m really worried that in the end I might not be able to hold on to the reasons for living.

Please advise me on this. Thank you.

Heartbroken girl


Dear Heartbroken Girl,

I’m so sorry, these thoughts are very upsetting for you. From your description, it sounds as if there are several things going on.

You are about to go for an exam, and that is stressing you. Usually, that’s a perfectly healthy emotional reaction. When we go for tests, we know we are being evaluated and we’re uncertain of the outcome. Therefore, we are a bit nervous.

However, it sounds as if your mind plunges straight into catastrophising. Catastrophising is where you take a little worry and roll it around and around until it becomes an overwhelming feeling of disaster.

For example, if you hand in an essay and you realise afterwards that there was a typo in the first sentence, your self-talk might sound like this:

There’s a typo in the first sentence… The teacher will frown at that… Oh no, she’ll think I’m not interested or dumb… She’s not even going to bother reading my work… Nooooo, she’s going to see that typo and not read the rest and give me an F and I’ll be kicked out of school and I’ll never get a job and I’ll be poor for life and people will think I’m a total failure!!!!!

Does that sound familiar? If it does, you should know that catastrophising is a common feature of anxiety as well as depression.

Also, when you are stressed, your first thought is to suicide. You’ve also thought of ways you might do it, which suggests the thought is a habit that’s been there quite a while.

While it’s frightening, please consider that you have been very sensible. You made a promise to yourself not to suicide, and you reminded yourself that you are loved. That’s a great start, but you could do with some more help.

Call one of the numbers in the highlighted box above and make an appointment to speak to a mental health professional. Ask to be assessed for anxiety as well as depression. Depending on your age and the results, you might want to talk to a psychiatrist, a medical doctor specialising in mental health, about medication.

Whether you take meds or not, you definitely need to consult a psychologist or counsellor so that you can deal with your thoughts more effectively.

When you do that, you will start by having a chat about all the things you can do support yourself when the thoughts come: like what activities have helped you in the past, who can you talk to, and the various emergency helplines you can ring. It’s called a suicide prevention plan or a self-care support plan.

Next, you learn to deal with your emotions and to distinguish them from your stress thoughts. That sounds tricky but it’s actually quite easy. In sessions, you learn how stress works in general and then you figure out how you react. After that, you can identify when you’re stressed, and tweak your thoughts and behaviour so you can manage your anxiety better.

It’s all very doable, so please reach out for help, OK? You deserve to be happy, so pick up the phone and get yourself the support you need. I’ll be thinking of you.



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