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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Will I be institutionalised if I tell someone my plan to self-harm?

    I considered taking my life this weekend because I have had an incredibly traumatic life, everything bad you could possibly imagine has happened to me (physical abuse of ALL types,verbal abuse, harassment, bullying, stalking, poverty, watching a loved one slowly die, bad intimate relationships etc) theres not enough word limit to explain it.

    There is still however fight left in me, I want to stay alive but I am afraid - I have had traumatic experiences with my GP who said I would be locked up because I have self harmed in the past and when I was younger I had a bad experience with a childhood psychologist - I am afraid that if I tell them of my plans to self harm which are so recent that I will be locked up - so the question is - will I be locked up when I want to much to get well and be the person I want to be? I don't want to take medications as ones like eflexor and zoloft make my symptoms much worse even at the smallest of doses.

    How do I approach this - I need advice
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1


    Joe Gubbay

    Clinical Psychologist, Counsellor, Psychologist, Psychotherapist

    I have worked in public hospitals as well as private practice over the past 25 years. As a clinical psychologist I treat depression, social anxiety, … View Profile

    First of all, good on you for asking for help. You've been through a lot and you're fighting on. That's a good sign. Even though you're worried about taking a risk by trusting someone to help you, I do think that's the risk you need to take. There are plenty of options, but you'll need to take a chance on finding someone that you can trust. Start with finding a good GP - there are some excellent GPs around; maybe you can ask friends or family to see if they can suggest someone. I'd then see whether a psychologist can help - psychological treatment is effective for most people.  You can decide not to try other medcations, but at least be aware that there are other medication options out there; sometimes it takes a few trials before you find one that works for you.  

    As for gettting locked up - if a treating health practitioner thinks you're likely to do serious harm to yourself then they've got an obligation to help you, but getting locked up (involuntary admission to a psychiatric hospital) is a last resort, and one that isn't the usual response, especially if you're able to say that you're willing to fight on.  

    I hope that helps a little.  I wish you well, there are many decent people out there who want to help.  Take the risk.

  • 2


    My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    I think that Joe has offered you excellent advice.

    I have had periods of suicidal ideation (none recently).

    Something which my clinical psychologist has impressed on me is that if someone is thinking about killing themselves *and* has worked out a detailed plan/method then the *only* thing that matters is that they are in a safe place.

    If that ever applies to you that means go to the A&E of your nearest hospital (run, don't walk) - there will be health professionals there who can help you.

    I have only once (years ago) needed to do that - I was not “locked up” but am grateful for the support that I was offered.

    Please stay safe and strong; all the best.

  • Dr Clive Jones

    Counselling Psychologist, Counsellor, Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Sport Psychologist

    Dr Clive Jones is a registered psychologist specialising in the assessment and treatment of mental health issues and disorders and High Performance Sport psychology. He … View Profile


    In terms of being ‘locked up’ a lot depends on how old you are and how severely you self harm. In saying that though I have 'treated' many individuals who have self harmed and not been locked up.

    Trust is hard to give when connecting up with someone to talk about such things. Wondering how they will respond and whether or not your stuff will freak them out and have them panic…

    I encourage you to keep dabbling the toes with potential psychologists to connect in with, Try some out and see if you feel safe. take it just one step at a time.

    Feel free to email if you need anything clarified.

  • pimmento

    HealthShare Member

    You need to talk about this, maybe see another doctor as well as look for a counsellor experienced in abuse and grief and loss.  The main thing is that you find the counsellor or the person that you trust, someone you can talk to, someone to listen to your story, because your story is important and you need support, the right kind of support.  .

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