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Approach I’ve found helpful for thoughts of suicide and self-harm

Eagle Ray
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

I just wanted to share an approach that’s helped me in recent days in relation to a depression that came over me in recent weeks and involved some thoughts of suicide and self-harm. The depression was linked to a traumatic memory I’ve now been able to identify.


Unable to sleep one night I researched online and found the work of Janina Fisher, a psychotherapist who works with clients with complex trauma. Often the part of us that is experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide is exactly that, just a part, not the whole of us. But the challenging thing is it can feel like the whole of us.


 In Janina Fisher’s approach it’s possible to identify individual parts that have split off as a survival response. These parts can be unconscious because of the way traumatic memories are stored. But it’s possible to bring gentle awareness to the part that might be feeling shame, fear etc and realise it’s not the whole self. We can then parent and take care of this part with self-compassion.


It can help to do this with a caring therapist who is familiar with the approach. I asked my psychologist if she could do this work with me and we did yesterday, and it enabled me to sense and feel what my child self was feeling and be present with that child self to help them feel safe.


It’s transforming the self-attack drive behind impulses towards self-harm and suicidal ideation into caring for that part that split off in the past due to trauma. This allows the part to re-integrate into the whole person in a healthy way.


 I just wanted to share this in case it helps even one other person. It’s still something I’m working on, but it’s given me an understanding of what’s actually been happening to me and that there’s something I can do about it.

4 Replies 4

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Eagle Ray~

Thank you for taking the time to help others wiht something that might help.


I'm not sure that when I've been overwhelmed I have any brain-power left to consider other matters, however that's just me


If it helps you I'm sure it will help others.


Any realization there is more to the world than just one's own destructive thoughts is good



Eagle Ray
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Thanks Croix


I was in such emotional pain in the middle of the night I was googling my symptoms in desperation for answers. That led me to the words ‘structural dissociation’ which felt like it described what I was experiencing. I found it can be associated with PTSD, complex PTSD, BPD and DID. I then found how Janina Fisher uses it in her ‘parts’ work with clients from a YT clip called Integrating Somatic Approaches to Trauma With ‘Parts’ Language. In the second half she explains a practical example of doing this work with a client which gave me a picture of what I could do to help myself, but it’s an hour long video so totally get some wouldn’t feel like watching it if feeling overwhelmed. I’ve just got the kind of brain that hyper focuses under stress so it actually helped me to feel like I had something to hold onto in the chaos I was feeling.


In exploring more of her work Janina Fisher has written about suicidality and self-harm and takes a very compassionate view of what people are going through. She really understands how people are trying to find adaptive strategies to cope and works with their strength and resilience rather than taking a deficit/pathology view of the person. She seeks to understand the person from the inside out. She’s written a book called Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Internal Self-Alienation. She says she writes with both therapists and clients in mind. I would like to read it.


Anyway, I just thought I’d mention something that is helping me. I know different things help different people but thought I’d share what I was learning just in case it helped anyone else.

Hi Eagle Ray

i really like how you actively looked for something to help you in the wee hours of the night. It shows a willingness and determination to overcome. Well done you.

I did similar research when I was seeking to understand the visual symbols with which my psyche presented me during the trauma of the failure of IVF treatment. There was something about the way the psyche communicates. I can’t remember right now - but it helped me enormously and gave me peace. 
Keep up the good work. 

Thanks Junior.


 I liked hearing about how the visual symbols helped you. It must have been such an incredibly tough time. I find it amazing how our psyches often produce what we need in times of crisis, in the form of a symbol, dream, vision etc. It’s like an in-built intuitive resource. When making a significant life decision once I had a dream in which a kindly elderly man guided me in a particular direction. I followed the guidance in real life because it felt like the wise part of my psyche speaking to me and it worked out really well.


I’ve felt so fragmented lately, at times like I’m breaking apart, but today I’m feeling more integrated again and need to keep remembering I have inner resources that can help me.


Thanks so much for your kind support 🙏😊