Right now, your pain might feel overwhelming, your future unbearable. It might feel like there is no hope, that you have no way out, except to end your life. But there are ways you can cope with suicidal thoughts and feelings, ways you can overcome your pain and have a brighter future.
I’m having suicidal thoughts
No matter how much pain you’re experiencing right now, you’re not alone. Many people experience suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives–I know I have, several times. Feeling suicidal does not make you a bad person, and it’s not a sign of weakness or a character defect. It doesn’t mean your mentally ill, or irreparably broken. It just means that you’re struggling with more than you can handle right now, and you’re looking for a way to make it stop.
You might be feeling overwhelmed by immense emotional pain, fear or shame. So much so that there seems no other way out. But, over time and with the right support, you can overcome the difficulties you are facing, and the suicidal feelings will subside.
When you feel suicidal, it seems like the world, friends and family would be better off without you. But the fact is, no matter what your situation, there are people who would miss you, who need you, and for whom you can make a difference. Life might seem so desolate at the moment, but it won’t always be so. Depression can be treated and, no matter what your situation, hope can be renewed.
While you might be at the very edge of your life, it not too late to step back from the brink. Remember:
Emotions are not fixed
If you’re suffering chronic depression, it might seem like they are, like there is no end to the tunnel. But, in truth, they change all the time and how you’re feeling today might be different from how you felt last week or will feel next week. Chronic depression is hard, but the end of the tunnel does exist. It’s just around another corner, so you can’t see it yet.
You would be missed
However alone you feel right now, your death would cause pain and grief in the lives of those you would leave behind. And the grief of a loss to suicide is one of the hardest to bear.
Life is still worthwhile
Even if, right now, it feels like life is not worth living, that can change. There are things you can accomplish, experiences you can enjoy, and people with whom you can connect. Give yourself the chance to find them.
Why do I feel suicidal?
Many things can drive a person to consider suicide, and everyone’s story is unique. Each of us copes with pain in different ways, and no two people share the same history (even identical twins). However, some common experiences can lead to suicidal thoughts and feelings.
Suicide can seem the only way out
When we are in the middle of a crisis or have experienced psychological trauma, it’s easy to become blinkered and see only one possible road ahead. As a result, you might not be able to see any other solution than to end your life. That doesn’t mean that other solutions don’t exist, just that you cannot see them at the moment. The severity of emotional can distort your thinking, making it much harder to find alternative solutions or sources of help and support.
Talking with others – friends, family, counsellors or support services – might help you find solutions you had not considered, or give you the support you need to get through this crisis. Please, give them the opportunity to help.
The world might seem better off without you
Sometimes it can feel like the world would be a better place if you were dead. Maybe you feel like you’re a burden on your family and friends, or you think that you have done something so terrible they would not want to know you. Or, perhaps, you feel that, for whatever reason, you’re not worth the air that you breathe?
No matter what your situation, there are people in the world who would miss you and would be hurt by your passing. You would be denying them the opportunity to help and support you, and yourself any chance of improving your life and making a difference.
Mountains can seem so big
When you are tired and have been battling something for a long time, it can seem like a mountain that you just cannot climb anymore. It might seem easier to give up, especially if you have no strength left. Sometimes, though, taking a step back and giving yourself time to rest, can bring things back into perspective. Then you might realise that the mountain that seemed so impossible was just a steep hill, or you might discover you’re almost at the summit. Give yourself time to step back and take stock of where you are–it could make a massive difference.
Even hopeless problems can have solutions
It might be that you have been struggling for a long time, and it all seems so hopeless. Chronic mental and physical health conditions can be debilitating, especially if they don’t seem to be getting any better. However, there are often different forms of therapy or alternative treatments that might help your condition or improve your quality of life. Sometimes it’s not possible to ‘fix’ a problem in the way you might want, but there might be other approaches that can help make life worthwhile. It’s worth giving them a chance.
Crises almost always pass
Even though it might feel like your pain and unhappiness will never end, it is important to realise that most crises are transient. Solutions are found; feelings change; more positive life events unfold. Suicide is a very permanent solution to, what is often, a temporary difficulty. Talking with someone can make a massive difference, too, as it can help you see things differently. Why not give yourself time for things to change, feelings to subside, and other solutions to be found?
What do I do now?
If you’re feeling suicidal, please follow these 5-steps:
1. Promise not to do anything right now
No matter how difficult things are right now, give yourself some space between thoughts and actions. Promise yourself, “I will wait for 24-hours, and I won’t do anything to harm myself in that time.”
Giving yourself space between decision and action allows you time to consider your choice. Thoughts and actions are not the same. Your suicidal thoughts don’t have to become a reality, and you don’t have to act on them immediately.
When 24-hours is just too much
If you are in a horrible place, 24-hours can seem like a lifetime. It’s just too long. Ok, take it one hour at a time. Can you get through the next hour? Good, then focus on that. Then repeat. Breaking it down into manageable chunks really does help, even if those chunks are only a minute long.
2. Avoid drugs and alcohol
While it can be tempting to drown your sorrows, suicidal thoughts can become much stronger when you have been drinking or have taken drugs. At the same time, drugs and alcohol harm your ability to think logically and rationally, making it even harder to cope with your difficulties. It is important, therefore, that you do not use drugs or alcohol when you feel suicidal.
3. Make your surroundings safe
Just as fire needs fuel and oxygen, suicide needs intent and opportunity. So, make your surroundings safe by removing those things you might use to kill yourself, or go somewhere where you are less at risk. If you are thinking of taking an overdose, ask someone to store your medicines for you, returning them to you on dose (or one day) at a time.
4. Tell someone how you feel
One of the first steps in coping with suicidal thoughts and feelings can be to share them with someone else. It could be a trusted friend or family member; a teacher, pastor, or priest; a therapist, counsellor, or helpline volunteer. Find someone you trust and tell them how you are feeling. Just connecting with another person right now can make a big difference. And, if the first person you try doesn’t seem to understand, try someone else. Don’t give up.
5. Take hope – people do get through
No matter how bad you feel right now, you’re not alone. Others have felt similarly and have got through it. Take hope from them. There is every chance that you can survive this, too. The fact that you’re still here and reading this is very encouraging. Part of you wants to survive. Give that part of you a chance: take the time you need and turn to some for help and support.
What’s the next step?
It is vital that you talk with someone about how you feel as soon as possible. If you are following the steps above, you have given yourself a 24-hour window to consider your actions. Don’t do it alone. Reach out to someone now.
How to talk to someone about your suicidal thoughts
It’s not easy to tell someone you are feeling suicidal, especially someone you are close to. Here are some practical suggestions that might help.
- Tell the person you are having suicidal thoughts or feeling suicidal. Avoid using vague or ambiguous phrases such as, “I’ve had enough,” or “I can’t take any more” as they are unclear and might be misunderstood. “I’m thinking of ending my life” is clear and unambiguous.
- Tell them precisely what you are thinking and telling yourself in your head. If you have a plan as to how you will end your life, explain it to them.
- If you find it too difficult to talk about, try writing it down and handing them the note, asking them to read it with you. Or, send them an email or text message, sitting with them as they read it.
What if they don’t understand?
If the first person you tell doesn’t seem to understand or doesn’t respond in a way you find helpful, tell someone else or call a suicide support line. Don’t let a bad experience put you off. Try again.
Who can I call?
In the UK, the Samaritans offer a 24-hour helpline on 116 123. If you are under 19, you can also call Childline on 0800 1111. Calls to these number are free from mobiles and landlines and will not appear on an itemised bill. We have details of other crisis helplines on our mental health crisis page.
If you are outside of the UK, visit suicide.org to find details of a helpline where you live.
Getting further help
If you would like to make an appointment to speak with one of your counsellors, please call 0151 329 3637 or complete our online referral form. You might also be able to access free counselling from the NHS, depending on where you live.