Suicide and Recovery

In recent years, conversations around treatment for mental health and addiction recovery have become more prevalent. National campaigns have continued to confront the stigma around mental health. However, discussions around suicide are still relatively uncommon. Talking about suicide can be uncomfortable. However, these conversations are imperative to maintaining mental health and opening up the path to healing and resilience.

Suicide risk can increase during periods of recovery from addiction or particularly difficult periods of mental health. But what forms of support are available? What support networks can be tapped into in these moments of crisis?

What is suicide?

The National Institute of Mental Health defines suicide as ‘death caused by self-directed injurious behaviour with intent to die as a result of the behaviour.’ This is separate from suicidal ideation, which refers to thinking, planning, or considering suicide. A suicide attempt does not always end in death – there are instances where attempts are not fatal. In these cases, the injurious behaviour can range from causing life-altering injury to not causing injury at all.

Suicide: The statistics

In England in 2022,

  • 5284 suicides were registered
  • overall suicide rate was 10.5 per 100,000
  • For males, the suicide rate is 16.1 per 100,000
  • For females, the suicide rate is 5.3 per 100,000
  • Suicide was the leading cause of death among men aged 20-34

What can contribute to suicidal ideation?

Suicide is a very complex phenomenon – there are lots of factors that contribute to an individual’s likelihood to think about or act on suicidal thoughts. Suicidal ideation is often associated with complicated feelings such as:

  • Hopelessness
  • Intense emotional distress
  • Feeling alone
  • Feeling rejected
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feelings of guilt or shame

These feelings can be experienced for a range of reasons, but can be particularly associated with the following:

  • Mental illness
  • Addiction
  • Trauma
  • Societal pressure
  • Interpersonal conflicts

Mental Illness

A 2018 study states that ‘most suicides are related to psychiatric disease.’ Individuals dealing with mood, anxiety, personality, eating, trauma or substance use disorders are at an increased risk of suicide. Specific diagnoses frequently linked with suicide include:

The risk of suicide can increase when an individual has a dual diagnosis. This is when someone experiences multiple conditions concurrently.


Addiction is linked to a higher risk of suicide. This can be due to either the mind-altering effects of the substances taken or the complicated feelings that surround addiction itself. The leading method of suicide in the UK is poisoning. A high number of these instances are linked to an overdose of substances, including alcohol and illicit or prescription drugs.


Trauma is defined by some as the lasting-impression of exposure to ‘actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence.’ However, another broader definition considers trauma to be anything that ‘overwhelms a person’s ability to respond to it’ and ‘overpowers one’s ability to cope.’

Exposure to difficult, threatening, disturbing or otherwise emotionally challenging events can leave an impression on us for a very long time. These can lead to the development of severe distress, which can ultimately increase the risk of suicide.

Examples of instances of trauma include:

  • Bereavement or grief
  • Experience of abuse
  • Experience of homelessness
  • Experience of severe illness
  • Experience of severe injury
  • Experience of an accident


Societal pressure

Campaigns around the dangers of cyberbullying have been advertised for years – however, the dangers of social pressure can come in many different shapes and sizes. Suicide as a result of social pressure can be either a direct or indirect response to criticism, abuse or challenges received from those around us.

This can be particularly potent in instances of minority groups, such as among individuals belonging to:

  • Ethnic minorities
  • Diverse religions
  • The disabled community
  • The LGBTQIA+ community
  • Alternative subcultures

Interpersonal Conflicts

Our relationships play a massive role in our emotional wellbeing. Connections with others can be very formative experiences, colour our future relationships, and impact our relationship with ourselves. Interpersonal conflicts can arise in many different places, including:

  • The dissolution of relationships (including divorce)
  • Children entering care
  • Abuse in the household
  • Significant health problems in the household
  • Conflict or abuse at work
  • Conflict or abuse at school
  • Codependent or otherwise unhealthy relationships with friends and family
  • Unhealthy or unsafe interactions with strangers

Suicide in recovery: What happens?

Addiction is an all-encompassing condition. The process of moving towards recovery is an intense and difficult one. For some people, loosening the grip of addiction can be too difficult. Unfortunately, this can then lead to suicide. But why does this happen?
Addiction recovery brings a range of complicated emotions to the fore, such as:

  • Defeat
  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Hopelessness
  • Regret
  • Loneliness

The process of recovering from addiction can also be physically challenging, which can exacerbate the difficult emotions experienced.


Social understanding of suicide: Common misconceptions

As a society, we still grapple with some myths around suicide. Some common misconceptions include:

  • You can’t ask for help unless you are actively suicidal
  • You can’t ask someone if they are suicidal
  • Suicide is a cry for attention
  • If someone wants to commit suicide, nothing can stop them
  • You need to have a mental health diagnosis to be suicidal
  • We shouldn’t talk about suicide

Tackling these myths is key to raising awareness about suicide. Suicidal thoughts do not discriminate. The truth is that any individual can experience suicidal thoughts. In fact, 1 out of 5 people (20%) have thought about suicide at some time in their lives.

The Importance of managing risk

Talking is an essential part of managing suicide risk; it can allow individuals space to open up and share their feelings. This can increase connections and support networks and make people feel heard. Having your feelings validated can be an incredibly powerful experience. Being able to talk about suicidal thoughts can be a crucial first step not only in the moment of the crisis but beyond – as it allows us to practice asking for help and rebuild our trust in the support of others.

Where to seek help

If you are feeling suicidal, then there are three key areas of support you can access:

  • Suicide prevention hotlines
  • Online support communities
  • UKAT London Clinic for mental health help

Sometimes, talking to friends and family can feel too much, and it can be very helpful to speak to a professional.

Suicide prevention hotlines


Calling 1116 123
Emailing jo@samaritans.org
Speaking to a Samaritan face-to-face

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)

0800 585858 (5pm -12pm)
Papyrus (Prevention of young suicide)
0800 068 4141


0800 1111

Silence of Suicide (SoS)

0300 1020 505 (4pm-12pm)


Get Support at UKAT London Clinic

At UKAT, we know that suicidal ideation and intense emotional distress should always be taken very seriously. That’s why we offer specialist, judgement-free support at our London clinic. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, contact us to take your first steps towards recovery. Whatever your situation, you do not need to face it alone. Support is available for you.

(Click here to see works cited)

    • https://timetotalkday.co.uk/
    • https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide
    • https://www.samaritans.org/about-samaritans/research-policy/suicide-facts-and-figures/latest-suicide-data/
    • https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-7749/CBP-7749.pdf
    • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6165520/
    • https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-7749/CBP-7749.pdf
    • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK207192/
    • https://jaapl.org/content/early/2023/02/23/JAAPL.220078-22
close help
Who am I contacting?

Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

0808 250 2626