Tunnel vision, called cognitive constriction

  Back to articles Tunnel vision, called cognitive constriction

“I felt desperate - I just wanted a way out.”

What happens in the moments before a suicide attempt? Whatever the driving reasons may be, something happens in the brain causing a kind of “tunnel vision”. This is called cognitive constriction. Cognitive constriction is a kind of rationale narrowing effect that happens inside the brain, where it’s difficult, or impossible, to see beyond the circumstances. When there doesn’t appear to be a way out of the current crisis. This distortion in the mind is not permanent, but often people cannot see any alternatives to suicide. This is a sensation that is often triggered by immediate stressors, or deep wounding that one cannot find language to explain. It is one of the most difficult sensations to cope with.

“Ending it seemed like the only way to make the pain stop.”

This is the main reason why it is essential to have a safety plan. If you turn to your safety plan in times of crisis, the rational thinking is being done for you - you have already put a deliberate process into place. This process may include reminders, contacts to call and activities to calm you down and distract you, allowing your thought process to become more rational.

The message is simple: If you can stop and think, the moment may pass.

The Better Stop Suicide app is a safety plan you can carry in your pocket and access any time suicidal thoughts arise. It is designed to halt cognitive constriction and distract with reminders and activities allowing for a more rational thought process. You are encouraged to record a message to yourself to help bring you out of dark moments. It provides emergency contact numbers for help and support, tasks and checklists designed to make you feel better and restore clarity of thought. All methods proven to prevent suicide and help with depression. The app has already saved lives and been downloaded over 1,000 times in a matter of days!

“I'm so grateful for this app. When I was really down it helped me that it was just there at the right moment," said one recent user.

Many sufferers find that thoughts of suicide stay with them almost constantly. There is help, and as the stigma of suicide and mental health lifts, discussion about suicide is becoming more commonplace. It’s ok to not be ok. There are methods to manage suicidal thoughts and to calm the mind and let logical thought take over.

“I still struggle with suicidal thoughts. The difference now is that I have better coping skills, I have an amazing support system, and I know how to ask for help when I need it.”