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Thinking about suicide

If you are thinking about taking your life, then we are glad you're here. You're not alone. We want to say that again: you're not alone. Many people have been here before and made it through, and you can too.

Suicidal thoughts can be incredibly isolating and scary. It can feel like you're the only person in the world who is experiencing them, and like no one else could understand.

Common experiences

Thinking about suicide is more common than most people think. In the United States alone, 12.2 million Americans seriously thought about suicide in 2020, according to research by the CDC.

Here are some common experiences of people struggling with suicidal thoughts:

Feeling...

  • Like you can't go on any longer
  • Like you're a burden to others
  • Intense sadness, anger, or guilt
  • A sense of hopelessness or despair

Thinking...

  • That there's no hope for the future
  • That life is not worth living
  • About your own death a lot

Wanting to...

  • Harm yourself or take your own life
  • Withdraw from friends and family members
  • Engage in risky or reckless behaviors

There is nothing wrong with you for thinking or feeling these things. While it may feel invisible to others, what you are going through is very real, and can be intense and scary to experience.

What causes suicidal thoughts

There isn't one single cause for suicidal thoughts, and you don't have to be in a crisis or have a diagnosed mental illness to have thoughts of suicide.

Some people who think about suicide have struggled with their mental health for a while. Others may be struggling to cope with a loss or change in their life.

You may have gone through a traumatic life event, lost someone close to you, or had a recent breakup. Or, you may have a history of substance abuse, or be in a difficult situation you feel there is no way out of.

If you are experiencing any of these thoughts or feelings, know that you are not alone and there is help available.

If you're worried about someone else

It can be difficult, and sometimes scary, to see a loved one struggle with thoughts of suicide. You may feel helpless and unsure how to best support them.

If you're worried about someone, here are some warning signs that can alert you that they may make a suicide attempt.

Warning signs

  • Changes in behavior. Withdrawing from friends and family, or taking risks like drinking, carelessly spending money, taking drugs and reckless driving.
  • Talking about their pain. Talking about wanting to die, kill or hurt themselves, feeling like they are trapped or like are a burden to others.
  • Preparing to take action. Giving away possessions, getting their affairs in order, appearing to say goodbye either in-person or on social media, appearing suddenly calm when previously distressed.
  • Previous history. Have a history of depression, substance abuse, or previously attempted suicide.

How to help

If you notice any of these signs in someone, it is important to reach out to them and check in. You will not put the idea of suicide in someone's head by asking about it. Importantly, you canhelp them feel heard, connected and supported.

If they have a plan in place to end their life, you can help by removing them from the location or object and working with them to get further support. Hotlines or helplines are usually happy to provide advice to people supporting others.

What to do if you're having suicidal thoughts

If you are thinking about suicide, know that you are not alone, and there is help out there for you. It can be hard to choose the right type of support, and it's normal to feel overwhelmed or doubtful that it will work. Take it from us – you're not beyond help, and you do deserve to get better.

There are many ways to reach out for help – some people prefer to talk to trusted friends or family members, while others would rather seek out a professional, mental health services or a suicide hotline.

Take care of yourself

Our physical health and mental health are interconnected, so if you're struggling mentally or emotionally, it helps to look after your body too. This can be as simple as eating well, getting enough sleep and exercise, and spending time with loved ones. It's also important to find ways to relax and de-stress; practices like yoga, meditation and journaling can be great for this.

Connect with a friend or family member

The most impactful thing you can do to get through a hard time is to connect with others.

While it might feel scary to open up, doing so will give those who care about you a chance to help and support you, and they will be grateful you trusted them. If you're not quite sure how to start, try writing down what you want to say before speaking to them, or reaching out via message or text.

You could start with, "Hey, I've been having a rough time lately, do you mind if we talk?".

Talk to a professional

If you have the financial ability, talking to a professional about what you're going through can play an important part in helping you to understand, process and cope with your thoughts and feelings about suicide.

If you’re in emotional distress, crisis services or suicide prevention services can help keep you safe in the moment, while talk therapy may help you to process what you’re going through and make a plan for recovery.

Contact a hotline

Crisis hotlines, also known as helplines or crisis call centers, provide immediate, free and confidential support to people all over the world.

Most countries have at least one suicide prevention hotline, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Crisis Text Line in the United States, and many are open 24/7 so that there is always someone available for immediate counseling in a crisis.

What to expect

If you call a suicide hotline, you might speak to a crisis counselor, a general counselor, a trained volunteer or a peer who has been through a similar experience to you. Who you speak to depends on the purpose of the hotline. Their job is not to give advice or tell you what to do, but to listen to you and help you decide the best way forward.

Contact options

Generally, hotlines can be contacted in one of three ways: on a phone call, via text message, and using online webchat. Many hotlines, but not all, are free to contact. In addition, many hotlines offer text relay services for Dead or Hard of Hearing callers via separate phone numbers.

Remember...

Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. No matter how dark things feel right now, there is always hope for the future. If you're feeling suicidal, please reach out – it could save your life. You are worth saving.

Phone
Finding a suicide hotline

Helplines are available in most countries, and through Find A Helpline we connect you to them for free.

To use Find A Helpline, select your country, and then choose the topic you want to talk about – e.g. "Suicidal thoughts". You will be shown the most relevant helplines for you in your location.

If you like, you can filter your results based on who you want to talk to (volunteers, counselors or peers), how you want to talk to them (phone, text, or webchat) and whether you want a helpline with a certain specialty (e.g. LGBTQ+).

This way, you can find the right helpline for you, available at the time you need it.

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