What are suicidal thoughts?
- Suicidal thoughts are thoughts a person has about not wanting to be alive.
- They range in intensity, from wondering what it would be like not to be alive, to making an action plan to end their life.
- Anyone can have them, and they can be a result of a whole host of different emotions or feelings.
- If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts it is important that you tell someone about them and get help.
People experience suicidal thoughts for many reasons – and they can be a result of a combination of things.
Anyone can have them, and there is nothing wrong with you if you or the person you care about is experiencing thoughts about taking their own life.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts it is important that you tell someone about them and get help. You can contact the CALM helpline here between 5pm-midnight or call 999 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger.
People experience suicidal thoughts for lots of reasons. These can include:
- A major loss, trauma or setback, like losing a loved one, losing a job or experiencing health or financial difficulties, can make it feel like isn’t worth living
- Someone close to you attempted to take their own life, or died by suicide
- Past life events, especially if they involve some form of trauma
- Drinking or using drugs heavily
- Challenges around personal identity – like sexuality, or your role within a family
- Feeling upset and angry but don’t understand why
- Experience of being bullied or rejected and feeling low or worthless
- Feeling alone and/or lonely
- Experiencing suicidal thoughts for what feels like no reason at all.
No matter how you’re feeling, or what situation you’re in there’s always a way forward – even if it doesn’t feel that way right now.
How do suicidal thoughts feel?
You can have suicidal thoughts at any point in your life. They can be general thoughts about not wanting to be alive, or specific thoughts about how to end your life. When you’re in a situation that makes you uncomfortable, sad, angry, or panicked, you might briefly think about wanting to take your own life. This is a passing feeling and so long as those feelings don’t last for extensive lengths of time or become too intrusive or overwhelming, they’re nothing to worry about. In fact, they’re actually pretty common.
Suicidal thoughts can spiral and make it difficult to think about or do anything else. If you are regularly having suicidal thoughts, or they are becoming overwhelming and difficult to ignore,
you should talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Speaking to someone about how you feel can help you to break the cycle and stop your mind running wild. It could be a friend or family member, a medical professional, or a CALM helpline worker.
A fifth of adults reported that they had thought of taking their own life at some point
Why do people have suicidal thoughts?
People who experience suicidal thoughts often want to end their life to be free of emotional or physical pain, to put an end to a difficult situation, to regain a sense of control when everything else feels out of control, or to relieve someone of a perceived burden.
Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, life can feel hopeless. Often in this situation, you can feel that other people will be better off without you, but this is never the case. Suicide has a devastating effect on the people left behind, including family, friends and whole communities. While suicide can seem like the only way to deal with your situation, there’s ALWAYS another option – even if that feels impossible right now. CALM’s helpline workers are there to listen, not to judge, have links with other helpful organisations and could offer you the support you need to stop feeling suicidal. We offer help, information and support to anyone calling within the UK, regardless of age, gender or geographic location. CALM is there to support whoever needs us, no matter what.
Where can I find help?
- Talk to CALM from 5pm to midnight everyday. Our professional helpline workers are there to talk and to help you find ways to move forward. Calls and webchats are free, anonymous, non-judgemental and confidential.
- Outside of these hours, calls the Samaritans on 116 123
- Call NHS 111 (freephone) or 999 if your life is at risk
- Contact your GP for an emergency appointment
- Contact your local mental health crisis team (if you don’t know who they are, NHS 111 can help you)
Dealing with Suicidal Thoughts
Thoughts of hurting yourself are temporary and will pass. If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts there are things you can do to help you cope with the distress you are feeling. It can help to come up with a list or a plan to follow when you feel like hurting yourself. It could include:
- Talk to someone you trust about your suicidal thoughts. It sounds like a big deal, but speaking to someone will help you find a way forward.
- Don’t know who to speak to? The CALM helpline is here for you if you’re thinking about taking your own life. CALM helpline staff are non-judgemental, and your call will be free, confidential and anonymous.
- Suicidal thoughts are just that – thoughts. Thoughts will pass, you don’t need to act on them.
- Focus on the here and now. You can’t control the future, but you can get through the next hour.
Talk about suicidal thoughts
It can be difficult to talk about suicidal thoughts with your friends, family or a medical professional. Here’s some ways you can start a conversation around how you’re feeling:
“I need to talk to you about how I’m feeling. Things are tough, and I’ve thought about hurting myself/taking my own life…”
“I need to talk – I’ve been struggling with [ ] and have had suicidal thoughts.
You're Not Alone
“I am a survivor of suicide. Since getting my mental health back on track I love the ethos of Campaign Against Living Miserably, as I lived miserably for so long”
“... the simple act of checking in on someone can be more powerful than we can possibly expect.”Mike Snelle, The Connor Brothers
On the site I found and read that I was not alone, that many other people had similar stories and had struggled with their mental health and like me other often struggled to explain it to people. Even now typing this, this isn’t even half of how I felt because unless you’ve experienced it its very hard to understand how your mind works and how you feel inside.
“I lost my nan and grandad, and my mum and dad split up all in the same time period. I tried to ‘be a man’ and bottle my emotions up. Not talking about it just made it worse, I attempted suicide twice, I’m currently having counselling and finally starting to turn the corner. I wanna share my story to help others. It's ok to show emotion, even if you are a man.”
"Something in me thought ‘I need to try and at least make one more attempt to avoid this, even if it doesn’t work.’ I called CALM and spoke to the best guy who listened. It was his compassion and ability to make me understand I did have options other then suicide. He saved me that night. It’s been difficult since but I’m forever grateful; without him I’m sure it could have turned out differently. He’s a hero in my eyes.”
"Don’t be a dick to yourself."
Illustration by Thomas Hedger.