Each year, 42,773 Americans die by suicide. For each suicide, 25 attempt. But with early intervention, support and treatment, suicide is preventable — and those considering it need to know they’re not alone.
To send messages of hope to those who might need it right now, we teamed up with PostSecret to collect images and notes for those who are contemplating suicide. Because suicidal feelings or ideations should never be a secret. We need to talk about it, and let others know it’s OK to do the same.
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or just needs someone to talk to, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. To learn more about the warning signs of suicide, head here.
If you’re feeling hopeless, here are some things you should know:
“I almost took my life four years ago. The suffering felt inescapable at the time. Things have gotten better since then. In fact, my life is better today because of the great depression I passed though.”
“My father died by suicide. Before he did it he told me he felt broken and that everyone was against him… I didn’t know he was going to die later that night. I never got to say goodbye. He left a hole in my heart. He was my best friend. I wish I had told him, ‘You are not broken. I love you more than you can imagine. You have always been my hero, and even hero’s fall down sometimes. Please hold on, please lean on me. The darkness doesn’t last forever. Even if the rest of the world is against you, I’ll always stand by your side.'”
“A few years ago, I sat on my bed with pills in hand ready to end the pain. Then my cat crawled into my lap and pretty much knocked them out of my hand while wanting to be pet. I looked at his sweet face and thought, ‘Who the hell is going to feed you if I’m gone? Will you end up in a shelter?’ That was my moment to reconsider my worth. Someone (my cat) truly needed me. I know it seems simple and contrite, but it was my truth. I was needed and I was loved. This is my story and you have a story, too. You have worth. You are needed! Please, if you need to talk, call me. Let’s talk. Or, call someone you feel can help. We are here.”
“Everything is temporary, including suffering. Trust the process. Let go of your need to control how things go. Just live until something changes for the better, because it will. Love, a cancer patient and formerly suicidal 23-year-old who cares about you.”
“A week before my 19th birthday I was diagnosed with HSV (herpes). I contemplated killing myself because of the social stigma of STDs. I went to counseling, eventually started a herpes support blog, now have 1,000 followers, have found a community and have talked others out of killing themselves because of their herpes diagnosis. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.”
“When I feel like I can’t bear any more… seeing something awe-inspiring brings me back and able to make it through the day. That’s all I have to do. Make it through today.”
“I had a friend who was suicidal. As I like to travel, my advice to her was… ‘There’s no point leaving the world until you have seen it.’ This seemed to give her the glimmer of hope she needed for really dark times and to hold onto the thought that there is a big beautiful world out there.”
“When I was 20 I was staring at a handful of pills, thinking the abusive man I had just left was right — I was useless, stupid and he was the only person who would want me. Now, I just celebrated my 26th birthday with my adoring boyfriend and my best friends. Last year I was her maid of honor. Things get better. Life is beautiful and imperfect and terrible, but all of that let’s you know you’re alive.”
“You’ve got this. It may not feel like it right now. But just know you will; you have what it takes. And if you need a reminder, just yell; someone will be there. Because they’ve got you.”
“My son came home from school one day and told me he has no friends, that absolutely no one likes him… I handed him his baby sister who instantly flashed him a smile similar to this, and I told him, “She loves you and that’s all that matters…” He thanked me and now he can’t wait to come home so she can smile and babble at him… So just remember there is someone who loves you as much as she loves her brother.”
“On a day about a year ago, I was at my absolute lowest. I was nothing — an empty shell and I felt so insignificant, that no one could see me, so why was I even trying to be here? I walked outside and literally on my doorstep was this arrowhead. I clearly understood. You are not invisible. I am seen. We all are. We are all visible and beautiful parts of an unimaginably complex universe.”
“You are not alone in the feeling of desperation and hopelessness. Your mind is playing a cruel trick on you. Try to think of a few things, anything, to be grateful for. That helped me the most in those darkest moments. And just to lighten the mood a bit, here’s a picture of my dog taking a selfie.”
“Ask for help. No one will look down on you. In fact, the right people around you will help you stand up. You write your own story, but sometimes, the story needs an illustrator. They don’t write the main story; they just help you see it better. And never be ashamed of who you are.”
“Don’t forget how wonderful you are. As horrible as it can get, as much as it can hurt, as alone as you can feel… there is beauty out there only you can see.”
“The man I love attempted suicide before we met. I am thankful every day he didn’t [die]. He brings me so much joy, so much perspective on life and so much love. We would have never had our love story if his life had ended. Love yourself and allow yourself to be loved. You could be someone’s forever.”
“Need a friend? I’ll be one. Like coffee? Let’s get some. Hungry? I’ll have lunch with you. Want to sit alone? I’ll be quiet. Sad? I’m a good listener. Hopeless? But there are so many sunrises and sunsets to look forward to… Need me? I’m here. Always.”
“‘Please don’t. We will not be better off without you. Our world would implode if you left us. Nothing will ever be the same for any of us, ever again and we will miss you every minute of every day. You are loved and cherished and important, and we look up to you and you’re the exact person we need in our lives and there’s so much more that we want to say to you and we want to help you get through this. Please. Just please don’t leave me. Don’t leave me alone. Don’t go. We need you. Here.’
What I would say to my brother, if I could go back in time.”
“One deep breath at a time… One day you’ll pick your chin up and realize that just the sight of wispy clouds against a vibrant blue sky is a gift to be grateful for. That’s what happened to me. Every once in a blue moon, on a bad day, the thought will pass – you must let it pass. Love and be loved!”
“Depression lies. It will try to convince you that you shouldn’t exist and that nothing matters. But, it is a liar. The truth is you are important. You are loved. You are needed. You are noticed. You have a purpose for being here. You have a place in this world, and if you haven’t found it yet, it’s still there, waiting for you. You can make it through. You are strong and capable. The darkness will pass, and the light will shine through. You can do it.”
“I’m a pediatric home health nurse. I work with children who are dying. I have struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts my entire life. The kids I care for give my life meaning and purpose. I have to live because in living I make their lives and their parent’s lives better. The pain is real. The desire to end the pain is real. Love is real too. Hope is real. Find a purpose greater than the pain to live for. Lose yourself helping others live.”
“Sometimes it seems like an endless battle that is fought within the mind and fueled by the emotions. Slowly it chips away at you piece by piece, but underneath all of those layers is where you begin to find the truth of who you are, what you have been carrying with you all of this time, and when you reach the point where you feel as though you have nothing left to lose, that is when you must hold on the most because profound changes are just around the corner waiting for you to take that leap, not to your death, but into a new life. You are not alone in this process of waking up, and you are loved more than you could possibly know by people you may never expect. Every act of kindness you have ever done has made this world a better place and we need more of that, we need you.”
“My mother attempted suicide when she was a teenager. She was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder that I inherited. I have never attempted suicide, or even considered it. But if my mother had died, me and my siblings would not be here. My father would more than likely be in prison, because meeting my mother changed his life. If my mother had died, my niece would not be here. And she brings a beauty to this world I have never imagined.”
“You matter. You’re existence matters. And life.gets.better. The dark place you’re in has an end. Because even though I’ve never wanted to end my life, I have seen the dark place .And what I know from that is that our will always get better. But if you end it, there is no chance it will get better. You will be someone’s someone. You matter.”
“No one in this picture would exist I if my mom [died after] her suicide attempt. You have a future. Live for it.”
“I’ve experienced suicidal ideation since I was 14 years old. Over time, I’ve learned to live beyond those thoughts and urges. They haven’t gone away, but I’ve removed their power. I think of suicidal urges much like a flighty bird; they may choose to perch in my hair, but I refuse to let them make a nest there. Likewise, there’s an old Cherokee legend about each person having two wolves fighting to live inside them. One is Fear-Based (anger, envy, ego, self-pity) the other is Love-Based (joy, peace, truth, compassion, faith). The one who wins is the one you feed. Feed the Love. Starve the Fear.”
“There is so much light and love in this world for you to add to and receive. You are a special part of it, and the world needs your spirit, love, creativity and light that you bring. So many people love you, and there are opportunities and experiences that are waiting for you. Just believe in yourself and the universe — this is not your destiny. (Said with much love to my friend who was suicidal a few weeks ago — and she is so happy she is still here with us!)”
“This is a photo taken of me less than a month before I attempted suicide. I always hated this photo because all I could see was the facade of happiness I tried to put on and it made me feel like a fraud. I looked at it again today, three years later, and realized that it is was not a facade. This moment that was captured by a friend was not a facade; what she caught was my small fleeting moment of hope that I could one day reach happiness. Two months after this photo was taken I checked myself into the hospital and three years later I can finally say I am happy with my life. I am happy with how far I have come and what I have achieved. Now when I see this photo I am reminded that even in my darkest moments I still had a glimmer of hope and happiness that, at the time, I didn’t even realize was there. Please don’t let your own fleeting moments of hope disappear.”
“‘Its not too late; its never too late.’ This is just a path in your great story. What is the lesson from all of this? Keep that pain, then you will use it for the future. Learn to walk through the rain, and know it was temporary, and there is a better day ahead. And walk your new path.”
“I lost my 16-year-old son to suicide, two years ago. If I could have said one thing to him, it would have been: Stay.”
“Almost four year ago I tried to take my life because I felt I had nothing worthwhile to live for. Today, I anxiously await the arrival of this little guy any day now. I’m so happy I [did not take my own] life because now I get to bring new life into this world. It does get better.”
“This is me… I didn’t intend to come home from this holiday; but I did. I’d like to tell myself that wanting to die won’t last forever; hours, or days later, it gets better; even if it doesn’t feel like I’ll ever climb out of the dark again.”
“I almost took my life more than once, but my mother once said: ‘I tried that, too, but then I decided I wanted to see how life worked out…’ We’re both here. I still have my moments. Life is a struggle, but you are the parentheses to that.”
“One day, I was challenged to make a list of 1000 things I loved. These items could be trivial or profound, it didn’t matter. Focus on the little things that may mean nothing to anyone else but that give you a tiny boost. The smell of scotch tape can be reason enough to make it through another day.”
“No matter how bad things get, there are dogs out there that will tug on their owners’ leashes just because they want so badly to say hi to you.”
“Please don’t go. Close your eyes and make a wish. For tomorrow to be better. For someday to be better. Cry and scream and fight until your lungs hurt. Because I would do that for you. Empathy means I feel what you feel, I cry the tears you hold back and we are here for you. Don’t quit on your worst day.”
“Your story is beautiful and needs to be heard, even as filled with pain and sorrow as it is. We need you here, to continue that story, and share it with the rest of us who also feel pain, and sometimes feel totally alone. It is only when we share in life together, without judgment, that hope is born again.”
“I attempted suicide more than once. I am thankful every day that I didn’t die because I never would have had my beautiful family. This is my husband and I the day our daughter was born. Don’t give up. The beautiful part of life is right around the corner.”
“If I had died the night I tried, this amazing creature would not exist today… and what a shame that would be. The future is beautiful if you just hold on.”
“Every winter, the Earth seems to die. Branches are left bare and blossoms are just a hazy memory. But remember that in spring, the ice thaws and things begin blooming again. Nature is not dead. It is going through a season which is necessary for new life and growth. You are the same. When the ice thaws (and it will) you will be new again, and your branches will grow taller and stronger than before, unburdened by the weight of last year’s leaves. You are not dying. You are changing. And it will make you stronger and more beautiful than before. Don’t give up just before the return of spring. You are about to find happiness you never imagined.”
If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
*Answers have been edited and shortened.