Teen Suicide Prevention
How to Cope with Suicidal Thoughts if You're Blind or Visually Impaired
Blindness and visual impairment can be difficult to deal with, both practically and emotionally. It’s no surprise that some people become depressed and even suicidal after they lose their vision. However, you don’t have to feel this way. Blind and visually impaired people can, and do, learn to manage their condition and live active, fulfilling lives. If you’re , you can start to feel better by seeking support from loved ones and a therapist. After that, work on learning skills for independence, so that you can spend your time doing the things that matter to you.
Building a Support Network
Get immediate help if needed.If your thoughts make you want to hurt yourself right now, you need to seek help from a counselor or suicide hotline. If you call a crisis line, you can speak to someone about what you're feeling and they can help you cope with these feelings and seek additional resources, if necessary.
- In America, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. A highly trained crisis counselor can connect you with a source of support in your community.
See your doctor.If you persistently deal with depressive and suicidal thoughts, you should alert your physician immediately. Your doctor can help you find resources in your local community to help with the adjustment. Call your doctor's office right away for an appointment to discuss your suicidal thoughts and feelings.
- If your thoughts are pressing or intense, then call 911 or go to an emergency room for help and to get an immediate psychiatric evaluation.
- Your doctor can refer you to a therapist who can help you to work through your thoughts and feelings. They can also help you to develop new coping skills, adapt to your new way of living, and connect with other people who are blind or visually impaired.
- Your doctor may also refer you to a psychiatrist if they think that you may need medication to improve severe depressive symptoms, but medication is usually a last resort.
See a therapist.Make an appointment with a therapist who has experience working with blind or visually impaired people. They will help you deal with your feelings and accept your vision loss. They can also help you come up with an action plan for adjusting to your new life.
- One of the most effective forms of therapy for depression is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is focused on helping you change the negative or self-defeating thoughts that contribute to your depression.
Reach out to friends and family.Confide in someone you trust about your emotional struggle. Spending time with the people you care about is therapeutic, and sharing your feelings with others will help you cope with them better.
- Educate your loved ones about vision loss if they don’t understand what the condition means for you. For instance, you might need to fill them in on what you can still do and what you have trouble with.
Adjusting to Vision Loss
Use positive self-talk.Adopt an optimistic mindset about your situation, and focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t. When you feel down, talk to yourself like you would talk to a discouraged friend. Avoid harsh or hopeless self-talk.
- For instance, if you catch yourself thinking, “I can’t do anything normal people do,” change that thought to, “I have some extra challenges to overcome, but I can still learn to take care of myself and enjoy life.”
Learn about vision loss.Educate yourself about your condition by reading or listening to articles, books, and other materials. Understanding your vision loss and knowing about your options will give you a sense of control over your life.
Look for classes and other resources in your area.Most areas offer classes that help people adjust to their vision loss and re-learn how to carry out everyday tasks. Take advantage of these resources. Regaining your independence will improve your self-esteem and help you feel more positive about the future.
- Ask your doctor or therapist to help you find local resources if you don’t know where to start.
Practice getting around on your own.Work with an orientation and mobility (O&M) specialist to learn skills for going places by yourself. A specialist can teach you to use a cane, take buses and other forms of public transportation, find help when you need it, and stay safe while traveling alone.
Explore assistive technology.Advances in technology have made it easier and easier for people with vision loss to access materials like books and websites. Learn to use devices like text-reading programs, magnifying apps, and braille printers.
- In addition to technology, you might also benefit from learning to work with a service dog which can help you get around and function more easily in daily life. The dog's companionship might also improve symptoms of depression.
Participating in Fulfilling Activities
Set goals for yourself.Think of something you’d like to achieve, such as cooking your favorite meal or going shopping by yourself. Then take steps to make it a reality. Working towards a goal can pull you out of a depressive rut by giving you a sense of accomplishment and pride.
- Break your goal down into small steps to make it achievable. For instance, if you want to take a college class, you might start by learning the layout of the campus, practicing using text-reading programs, and asking a friend to help you fill out application paperwork.
Nurture your hobbies.Vision loss doesn’t have to take your hobbies away. Blind and visually impaired people participate in many of the same activities that sighted people do. Make some time every day to de-stress and recharge with an activity you enjoy, like exercising, reading, or doing crafts.
- If you’ve recently lost your vision, it might take a while to adjust. For instance, it takes practice to learn to knit by feel instead of by sight. Be patient – soon enjoying your hobbies will feel natural again.
Volunteer.Helping other people can give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Look for a position that matches your interests, values, and skills.
- If you aren’t confident about going out on your own yet, you can still find ways to contribute. For example, you could make phone calls to housebound people or blog for a nonprofit organization.
Look for work.Put together a resume and search job boards for positions that interest you. Working gives you an outlet for your energy and helps you stay self-sufficient, which will keep your spirits up.
- Many blind and visually impaired people have rewarding jobs. Once you can get around independently and use assistive technology, there’s no reason you can’t do the same.
- Ask your family, friends, and other social contacts if they know of any available jobs. Networking is often an efficient way to find a position.
QuestionHow can they read this if they're blind?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBlind people use assistive technology to read information in electronic formats. Technologies a person may use include screen magnification software (software that allows users to change the size, font, color, or styling of text on their screen), a screen reader (software that converts text into synthesized speech), or a braille display (a device that shows what is on the screen in braille, which users can read by touch).Thanks!
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