According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in America in 2014. This means someone in the U.S. died by suicide every 12.3 minutes that year. But with early intervention, support and treatment, suicide is preventable. If we help those at risk — and make help more accessible for those who need it — we can live in a world where these numbers shrink.

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.

For now, hear these messages from members of our Mighty community who’ve been there. We hope their words give you the push to get the help you need and deserve.

Here’s what they want to tell anyone who’s in a dark place:

1. “Although it’s cliché and you may not believe it right now, it really does get better. I promise you won’t regret sticking through it.” — Kristy Hindman-Cook

A quote from Kristy Hindman-Cook that says, "Although it's cliché and you may not believe it right now, it really does get better."

2. “You deserve to give yourself one more try. You deserve to live. You deserve to be.” — Bambi Sears

3. “Open up, let someone in so they can find a way to help you through your tough times. No one deserves to go through life alone.” — Katherine J Palmer

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4. “People have different reasons for suicidal thoughts and depression, so there’s no easy solution. All I can say is that tomorrow is a chance to start over. You just have to make it to tomorrow.” — Kelley Robinson

5. “Please reach out. I don’t care how dumb or weak you think you are or sound. Get the help you deserve.” — Morgan Stacy

A quote from Morgan Stacy that says, "Please reach out. I don't care how dumb or weak you think you are or sound. Get the help you deserve."

6. “[Suicide] is not a solution. It doesn’t fix anything.” — April Dominguez

7. “[If you live in the United States], call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — it’s in my speed dial. In my experience, the counselors are very caring and helpful. They’ve talked me out of a crisis many times.” — Debbie Kasuba Hendrix

8. “This world needs you.” — Alicia Nelsen

9. “You are worth it. Even when it’s dark and deep and cold. You are important. Even when you think your light is too dim, someone sees it. And you. You don’t have to go through this alone. I promise.” — Kelly Jo

A quote from Kelly Jo that says, "Even when you think your light is too dim, someone sees it."

10. “Those dark thoughts make your days feel like years and your weeks feel like centuries. But it doesn’t have to always be that way. You can tell someone. You can get help.” — Arielle Smith

11. “Depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses need to be treated. I know the darkness seems an eternity and hope is so far gone, but when you ask for help and receive it, life will turn around. I am a Survivor, and you are too.” — Renee Sheridan Birchall

12. “Don’t be ashamed of your suicidal thoughts. They don’t make you a bad person or make you weak. They are just a symptom of a mental disease, just like chest pain is a symptom of heart disease. When we experience symptoms, it’s time to seek help, regardless of the disease. Chest pains don’t make a heart patient weak or bad, and neither do any of your thoughts.” — Jennifer Sladden

A quote from Jennifer Sladden that says, "Don't be ashamed of your suicidal thoughts... They are just a symptom of a mental disease... When we experience symptoms, it's time to seek help."

13. “The people in your life are not better off without you.” — Cary Rice Schwent 

14. “Just make it through that hour — half-hour, 15 minutes, one minute. It’s so hard, but break it down to the best of your abilities to make it through.” —  Katherine Cavaliere

15. “Getting help is easier than the alternative.” — Suzy Ellis

16. “It’s a lie. Your mind lies like an ancient serpent. You are beautiful and worthy and the loss of you would devastate and cripple the hearts of those who love you. Don’t suffer in silence; the liar is counting on you to isolate. Speak up and let people help you. You have purpose on this Earth. Please don’t leave.” — Shell Rioux Hurrell

A quote from Shell Rioux Hurrell that says, "Don't suffer in silence; the liar is counting on you to isolate."

17. “Nobody will understand unless you tell people your story. And if that story saves one more life, then choosing to stay will not have been in vain.” — Douglas Honeywill 

18. “Honestly…I don’t know. But what I’ve found out is that it’s OK to not know. Going slow is better than quitting.” — LeChondra Sapp

19. “There’s a difference between wanting to kill yourself and wanting to kill the part of you that wants you to kill yourself. It’s still hard, but now that I know there’s a difference, I can get much better help when I’m struggling.” — Alison Taylor

A quote from Alison Taylor that says, "There's a difference between wanting to kill yourself and wanting to kill the part of you that wants you to kill yourself."

20. “I don’t know your story, your pain, your bone-deep tiredness, your struggle or your reasons. But I would listen to them all. We’re out here, thousands of us, waiting on helplines, aching for the chance to hold out our hand, hold yours as long as you need it, until you can rest a little, lean a little and believe in possibility of tomorrow.” — Charlene Dewbre

21. “What you’re feeling now is real. It’s not true, but it feels true. Call someone trained to ground you in reality and help you. Call.” — Joel-Sara Taylor

22. “Someday the light will come and it will be more beautiful because you are a survivor.” — Ashley Roenfeldt 

23. “It’s just a thought. Don’t listen.” — Louise Weis
A quote from Louise Weis that says, "It's just a thought. Don't listen."

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. 

23 Messages for Anyone Considering Suicide, From People Who've Been There

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Mental health advocates are speaking out against shirts sold on Amazon they say make light of suicide.

Editor’s note: The images and descriptions below may be triggering for some. Suicide prevention resources are at the bottom of this article.

The designs in question are being sold by multiple vendors on the site. One example is a shirt that reads, “Got Suicide?” The other shows someone with a noose around his neck while another figure watches eating popcorn. The text reads, “Suicide Watch.”

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 9.22.05 AM
Images taken from Amazon.com

“The images on the shirts that Amazon is selling are so harmful because they make light of the very thing we have to change to save lives: complacency. Suicide is preventable, and yet we fail to prevent it more than 40,000 times every year in America,” Mark Henick, a suicide attempt survivor and mental health advocate, told The Mighty in an email. “This scandal haunts the lives of the millions of people who have either had a family member or friend who completed suicide or who themselves have attempted suicide.”

In 2014, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in America.

Henick started a petition and is boycotting the online retailer until the company agrees to take the shirts down.

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“This has nothing to do with free speech,” Henick said. “This is dangerous. It can trigger people who have previous exposure to suicide and help pave a pathway toward something that should never be an option.”

Dr. Victor Schwartz, Medical Director of The JED Foundation, agrees messages like these can be dangerous for people who are vulnerable to suicide, and hurtful to those who have experienced losing someone to suicide. “Comedy and humor are valuable and great, but certain topics ought to be off limits. This is the case with suicide,” he said.

Henick also pointed out the shirts are a violation of Amazon’s own policy on restricted products, which includes “products that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views.” It had recently pulled products with the Confederate flag based on these standards.

“There is no defensible position for continuing to promote, sell or even manufacture any product that promotes or makes light of suicide,” Henick said.

Maggie Harder, a 14-year-old who started Liberate Minds, a campaign to stop the stigma associated with mental illness, initially found the shirts while browsing Amazon’s site. She said products like this perpetuate stigma and prevent people from getting help.

“Having these slogans on shirts show that mental illness isn’t something to be taken seriously,” she told The Mighty.

Harder wrote a letter Amazon but hasn’t heard back yet. Amazon also hasn’t responded to The Mighty’s request for comment.

To sign the petition, click here.

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.


I’m not sure I have words powerful enough or meaningful enough to explain what happened.

At the time, it was a normal day. I had just finished speaking at a local high school and was exhausted. As my speech came and went, I had amazing conversations with the students and the counselors. I found the subway with ease and was reflecting on the day when I had to transfer subway lines. I went down the escalator, looked up and connected eyes with a guy not much older than myself. He looked unassuming, dressed in all black and, frankly, he was kind of cute. Then, I saw how close he was standing to the edge of the platform.

The realization washed over me. He was going to jump.

I held eye contact with him for a while. He smiled at me and moved to the edge of the platform.

His smile was one of relief.

I knew that smile — I’d given it too many times before. It’s misleading; many assume it’s the smile of finally feeling better. But it was a knowing smile. He thought the train was going to take the pain away.

The next thing I knew, I heard the rumble of the approaching subway and my instincts took over. Without realizing it, I had ran to where he was, placed my arm over his chest and pushed him away from the train. All I can remember was his weight against my hand, not realizing someone was there. When the train was in the station, he looked at me. I don’t think I can place the expression, but the closest was probably confusion.

I felt the need to say something.

All I could manage was, “You shouldn’t stand that close to the train, it’ll knock you over.” He nodded and walked into the train. My legs were weak and I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. I sat in a seat with my brain just repeating: “Did that actually just happen?”

Then I looked up. He was standing there, looking at me again. I looked up with probably with a fake smile, usually reserved for family gatherings. He spoke.

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“You know I was trying to jump, right?”

I nodded. Crap. What should I say?

I spit out, “I didn’t want to call you out on it.” Cue internal face palm.

He nodded and said, “Thanks.” I sat there looking up. Looking at this guy, trying to find any words to make this better. My mind was blank. The train stopped and he ran out. Feeling a sudden need to leave, I got off at a stop that wasn’t even close to mine. I stared at my phone, not even knowing who to call. How would they take it? I’ve lived through being suicidal. I’m trained in suicide prevention. Yet, I didn’t do anything I was taught.

I spoke to friends, but no one could understand why I wasn’t celebrating. I did what every person in mental health hopes to. I saved a life, didn’t I? Why on Earth did I feel like crap? They dismissed how I was feeling, and started ranting about what was happening in their lives.

It was the first time in a long time I felt like no one understood my feelings. I spent the next few days feeling heavy and confused. I couldn’t feel anything. I’m usually able to feel music, if nothing else. But it was just words. There was no song for this feeling. No poem. Just confusion as what the heck was happening. I forced smiles and laughter. I tried to act normal. None of it was real.

I reached out to the former program director at mindyourmind. She helped me realize that what I saw was not someone preparing to die, but in the act of dying. That my mind was torturing itself with images of what might have happened…and all the things I could have said. The police that should have been called. The help I should have gotten. Everything that should have happened.

She told me I should write. Write all the things I wish I had said.

So, after probably what is the longest introduction to anything ever, here it is:

“Dear the man in black,

I want to tell you how awesome life can be. But I know you don’t feel that right now. I want you to know I’ve been there. Felt like there was no hope and like change wasn’t possible. I thought I was too crazy, too broken, to be helped. I’ve felt like my problems were too much to bear and the world would be so much better without me. And some days I still feel like this.

I want you to know more than anything that help is out there. Good online and telephone crisis lines are life-saving resources. I want you to know there is something to stay here for. Whether it’s an overarching change you want to see in the world, or the fact that no one will feed your goldfish. People, as much as they suck sometimes, do care about you. I care about you. I want you to find a life that makes you happy. There are amazing groups of people out there who have felt just like you’re feeling right now. And they want to talk to you and support you through this.

I hope my one act made even a little bit of a difference. I hope you know people can care, notice and want to help. I hope you find more people like that in travels, if you don’t already have them. I want you to realize it isn’t you that’s broken — it’s the situation or the illness that drove you to this. Lastly, I sincerely hope the next time you smile, it’s because you realize how awesome you truly are. “

I wrote that in tears, but it does make me feel a little better. And I hope this journey through text can help someone else one day. I know now my training in suicide prevention, if anything, gave me the confidence to move. To intervene. But, please recognize how dangerous what I did was. Please always try and talk to someone if you think there might be a problem.

Every day that passes, I’m getting a little bit of me back. I’m coming to terms with what happened. I’m riding the subway again. I’ve started to feel again. I’ve felt true laughter and happiness again. I’ve had moments where I don’t think about it. The walls I put up when I’m scared are slowly coming down.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.


All my life I’ve battled severe depression. On numerous occasions I’ve been suicidal. It’s a horrible thing for all involved. Here are some of the most unhelpful (and helpful!) things I’ve been told during these times.

1. Don’t tell me:God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”

First off, you don’t know what my belief system is. Perhaps I don’t believe in God. Or maybe I do, but the pain does feel like more than I can handle. I’m the one dealing with it. I’m the one who has to wake up and face each day. If God dealt me this hand intentionally, it feels like he made a mistake — there are days I truly feel like I can’t deal with it. When you say something like that, it makes me feel ashamed.

Say instead: “I understand you might be thinking of suicideI will do everything in my power to get you the help you need.”

And then actually do it. Make calls to a doctor or my therapist. Take control of an out-of-control situation.

2. Don’t tell me: “Just think of your family. Aren’t your children and spouse enough?”

I love my family with all my heart. When I’m feeling suicidal, I actually think I would be sparing them the pain that is me. Saying something like this makes me feel guilty, but not better.

Say instead: “Your family loves you no matter how you feel inside.”

Talk to me about my family in general – What are the kids into? What do my husband and I enjoy doing together? Remove the guilt and focus on the positives.

3. Don’t tell me: “Things will be different tomorrow.”

You don’t know that — don’t tell me things that sound nice, but aren’t necessarily true. The truth is I might feel 100 times worse tomorrow.

Say instead: “Let’s take this a minute at a time.”

Instead of making false promises, remind me to live just one minute — or one second — at a time. Tell me while you don’t know what tomorrow will bring, you’ll always be there. Offer to sit with me and help pass the time. Let’s watch a movie or some other mind numbing activity. Every minute I stay is a step toward recovery.

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4. Don’t tell me: “You’re being selfish.”

Wow. Just, wow. How is that helpful? A person who’s suicidal is in insurmountable pain. If wanting someone to notice me and sit by my side while I fight my inner demons is selfish, then so be it.

Say instead:I want to help you.” 

Tell me I’m not a burden to you or my friends and family. Tell me you’ll be with me every step of the way and really mean it. Ask me what they need.

5. Don’t tell me:Just snap out of it.”

The absolute worst thing to say ever. Depression is a very real medical diagnosis. Would you tell someone with cancer or diabetes to “snap out of it?” Believe me, if “snapping out of it” were a possible solution, I’d do it.

Say instead:I know what you’re going through is real.” 

If you’re feeling suicidal, reach out to friends, family or a doctor — someone to walk on the road to recovery with you. Get help when you need it. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.


It starts at home. I’m doing the dishes and listening to a podcast. I’m about to rinse off when my brother walks through the front door. “About time,” I think. Salman’s been gone for a while and I was beginning to wonder when he was coming back. We put on some tea, sit down and watch an old episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” making fun of Worf during the commercials.

That’s when I wake up.

I have this dream every other week. I hate it – not the dream, but being ripped away from it. Waking up is like finding out my brother died all over again.

birthday-coming-home

On May 19, 2008, Salman took his own life, following a long battle with bipolar depression. He was 36 years old. Salman suffered in silence – his illness wasn’t diagnosed until he was 34, after a very public manic episode that tore my family apart.

The dreams are always the same – I’m living my life right now in New York City and then my brother appears. Life has continued as if he never died – he was just away for a while. I’ve come to think of these dreams as a parallel universe where he never died by suicide, an alternate timeline in which he lives.

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Waking up reminds me of how I found out. I got a call from my dad at 4:46 a.m. that Monday. I can hear his trembling voice – “Ali, your brother is no longer on this Earth – he committed suicide.”

I remember my guilt – Why didn’t I do more to help him?  What did I miss? Why wasn’t I there for him?

I get out of my bed, run through my morning routine, but the pain lingers. Listening to music and checking the news helps me bury my memories.

I could be having a normal day, then someone says, “My boss makes me want to shoot myself.” It feels like waking up again. How dare you joke about that? You have no idea what you’re saying! But it’s just a figure of speech to them; what can you do but shove the anger down and get out of there as quickly as possible.

It’s worst when I physically can’t get away. Days after learning about Salman’s death I flew back to visit his grave in Pakistan and shared the seat with a man my father’s age. He looked easy to talk to.

“Are you on your way home?” he asked. brothers3

“Not really, I’m going to visit my parents.”

“Ah, good for you. I’m sure they’ll be happy to see you. I was here for my daughter’s graduation – she just finished med school.” He was beaming with pride.

We talked about the medical profession and my training to become a psychologist.

“How’d you get interested in that? Were your parents psychologists?”

“It’s what I loved most in college, honestly.”

“What do your siblings do?”

“No…no siblings,” I lied, “it’s just me.”

“Oh, an only child,” he nodded. Now he wanted to talk about it! “Growing up, you must have had all the pressure from your parents.”

I had to get out of that seat. I said “excuse me,” tore off my seat belt and went into the lavatory. Not to pee, just to stand there. My heart was racing. I couldn’t tell him the truth – that I had a brother and he just died. I didn’t know why, I just knew I couldn’t do it.

When I returned to my seat, I put on my headphones to block out the older man. Despite his efforts, we didn’t speak for the remainder of the flight.

I don’t remember much from that visit. I know a lot of people came to pay their respects, but the rest is a blur. What sticks out vividly is seeing his grave for the first time. I stayed with him for an hour. I promised Salman I would keep his memory alive with his son and pass on what he had taught me. In that moment, I was overcome by the smell of fresh jasmine, as if his spirit was trying to embrace me.

After returning home to Washington, D.C., I grouped people into two categories – those who knew me before my brother died and those I met after. Friends and family gave me a wide berth, avoiding the topic of Salman’s death. With new people, I pretended to be an only child. I hated myself for lying, but the last thing I wanted was to be the guy – the therapist – with the bipolar brother who killed himself. Denying Salman’s role in my life was the quickest way to avoid the pain. With the exception of my dreams, Salman never existed.

That year I spent Thanksgiving at my friend’s home and met her sister’s future fiancé, Karl. The two of us hit it off after we discussed a mutual appreciation of Batman and Iron Man. After dessert, a few of us played board games. Karl and I joined forces and declared ourselves “Team Awesome.”

“It was weird growing up,” said Karl, “My brother was 10 years older than me – he was a friend and a bit of a dad.”

I wanted to say “me too,” but didn’t. I deflected and asked, “What was that like, being so far apart in age?”

“We did a lot of things together – sports and all that stuff, but he let me hang out with him and his friends, sometimes even sneaking me into rated-R movies.”

“Sounds like fun,” I said, but nothing more. In fact, Salman did the same. He took me to a bunch of movies I wasn’t old enough to see – “Terminator 2,” “The Rock,” “The Matrix.” My favorite thing was to tag along with him to Galactican, our local arcade. He knew everyone there. It made me feel so cool just being around him.

I didn’t tell Karl any of this. I might have made a good friend that day, but I kept pretty quiet.

“You know,” Karl said, “My brother helped me decide to major in computer science.”

“That’s cool,” was all I said, but inside I was screaming, I desperately wanted to tell Karl how my brother introduced me to “Star Trek,” how that led me to psychology, but I was too scared. I didn’t want him, or anyone else at the table, to ask questions, to judge me, to think poorly of my family.

disneyland-1980s By numbing myself to Salman’s suicide I restricted all of my memories about him – the bad and good. Remembering the experiences we shared together made me miss him dearly.

I think about that now – if Salman were alive today, he’d clear his schedule and take me to see the new “Star Trek” movie. I like to believe we’re both doing just that, in the parallel universe. Maybe in that universe he’s the best man at my wedding, the uncle to my kids and my friend in old age.

Salman ended his life to stop his suffering. By refusing to face my pain, I’ve prolonged my suffering.

Last year I was serving on the board of directors of the American Psychological Association. At our end of year dinner, I sat next to Melba Vasquez, a past-president of the association. After some small talk, Melba started a conversation about family.

“Ten siblings!” she asked one of our colleagues. “What was that like, growing up in such a big home?”

“Jennifer, what about you – how big is your family?” Melba continued around the table, one by one.

I felt sick. I was stuck – nowhere to hide.

“Ali, what about you?”

“There were four of us, my parents and my older brother…but he died a few years ago. He had bipolar depression and took his own life.”

“I’m so very sorry, Ali,” she said. “I had no idea.”

“It’s not something I talk about.” Even as the words came out of my mouth, the whole situation felt unreal – I had never publically talked about Salman’s death before.

“That makes sense,” she said. “There’s so much stigma about suicide – it’s not something anyone talks about.” Melba always communicated with compassion and honesty – it was one of the reasons I looked up to her and why I couldn’t lie to her.

“I’ve always been afraid that people would think differently of me and my family. I had this fear that people would think I’m an incompetent psychologist because I couldn’t save my own brother.”

“I’ve felt that way at different times in my life. Clinicians are just as vulnerable to these things as anyone else.”

When I accepted that fact, I felt comfortable seeking out my own therapy.

Later that night, I told Melba the things I wanted to tell Karl – how my brother taught me to build computers, our late nights watching “Twilight Zone,” debating Captain Kirk versus Captain Picard.

Yes, as I talked about it I felt that pain, the pain of waking up, but I endured it.

This way of dealing with things has also kept me away from the people I love. I rarely speak to my parents and I’ve been terrified of calling my brother’s son. I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t kept my promise at Salman’s gravesite. The last time I spoke to my nephew he asked me, “Why don’t you call me Uncle Ali?” I didn’t have an answer for him.

I want to be able to remember Salman more. It’s taken me five years, but I’ve finally put up photos of my brother in my home. They sit next to the other reminders of him that have always been there – the starships, action figures, video games.

The photos no longer just bring me pain; they remind me of the joy we shared together.

UCLA-graduation

This post originally appeared on Brain Knows Better.


Kevin Hines is part of the less than 1 percent who have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and survived. Now he’s sharing his story with the world in a powerful new video from BuzzFeed. Hines hopes his experience will help others seek help and realize suicide is never the answer.

By the age of 17, Hines faced numerous mental health issues, including bipolar disorder, and began “spiraling out of control.” When he was 19, after writing a suicide note, he took a bus to the Golden Gate Bridge and jumped. In the video above he says:

The millisecond my hands left the rail, it was an instant regret. And I remember thinking that no one’s going to know I didn’t want to die. In four seconds, I fell 75 miles an hour, 25 stories, and I hit the water. I was in the most physical pain I had ever experienced.

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most frequently used places in the world to die by suicide, reports BuzzFeed, and more than 2,000 people have jumped to their deaths since it opened in 1937.

“It’s OK not to be OK,” Hines, who’s now in treatment, says in his video. “It’s not OK not to ask for someone to back you up.”

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He’s currently working on a film project, Suicide: The Ripple Effect, and wants to continue raising awareness for those living with mental illness.

“Recovery happens,” Hines concludes. “I’m living proof.”

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

The Crisis Text Line is looking for volunteers! If you’re interesting in becoming a Crisis Counselor, you can learn more information here.

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