Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.
If you experience suicidal ideation, life can often feel really lonely in the moments you’re ruminating on feelings of worthlessness, self-loathing or intense emotional pain — particularly when those around you don’t understand what you are going through.
Each person who experiences suicidal ideation needs something different when they confide in someone about their struggles. One person might need to have a lengthy discussion about safety plans. Another person might just want to be listened to and have their feelings validated. Another might just really need a hug.
But above all, people who experience suicidal thoughts need to be heard.
To open up this conversation, we asked people in our mental health community to share with us one thing they wish others understood about their suicidal thoughts.
We hope this post can help others articulate to their loved ones what they need in the times they are experiencing suicidal thoughts. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please know there is hope and help available to you.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “Just because the thoughts are there, doesn’t mean I will act on them. Sometimes they just appear and I can’t control that.” — Victoria M.
2. “Even when [people] say, ‘It’ll get better. Suicide is a permanent answer [to a temporary problem],’ I still feel the same. I can’t see past that mindset at the time. I see no future and only remember the bad in my past. [In those moments] I truly believe everything would be better if I were dead.” — Dan A.
3. “It has nothing to do with the people in my life not making me happy. It had everything to do with being desperate for my own internal pain to end. Nothing they did or didn’t do caused it.” — Jayme S.
4. “It’s not a phase, it’s not attention-seeking, it’s not against everything you believe in. It’s pain.” — Atiya M.
5. “There are various stages of suicidal thoughts. They can be intrusive, but they don’t always mean I’m a danger to myself. If I talk about it, please listen. I know it’s scary but I’m opening up for a reason. Don’t shy away from the topic.” — Sydney A.
6. “I don’t want to die, but experiencing life with anxiety, depression and PTSD is so overwhelming. Sometimes, the idea of living with these mental illnesses for the rest of my life is too much.” — Nicole P.
7. “Even when I’m laughing and smiling and being super positive and happy I’m still imagining suicide… Every day. It’s a constant [for me]. So just [because] I was having the best day of my life yesterday doesn’t mean today will be OK.” — Harlie B.
8. “[For me,] it’s not so much wanting to die but wanting the pain to end and seeing no other [option].” — Grace R.
9. “I’m not looking to have a savior and you can’t rationalize everything for me when I have irrational ideas. I can be almost myself and yet not really. It’s different than just being sad. Sad is like being damp from the rain, and depression and suicidal thoughts [are] like being soaked in an ocean… Sometimes some waves are just too big.” — Krissy B.
10. “Just because the thoughts are there, doesn’t mean I will act on them. Sometimes they just appear and I can’t control that.” — Victoria M.
11. “It’s not always a crisis. Having an overreaction when someone expresses their thoughts can make it so they don’t tell you again. Responses should be filled with empathy and reassurance to the person [to let them know] they are not alone, you are there and they can get through this. Of course if the person is taking actions such as planning for their suicide, then more action needs to be taken to make sure they are safe. But just because someone is having suicidal thoughts doesn’t mean we need to freak out and cause a scene. Sometimes they just need someone to tell them it’s OK.” — Alyse R.
12. “I wish others understood I don’t even understand these thoughts myself. To walk away when I mention these thoughts won’t help, but hinder them, which can create a bigger feeling of being a burden in my heart.” — Tatauq M.
13. “When people speak up and say something has triggered them, it’s not ‘manipulation.’ Speaking up about suicide should be taken seriously.” — Carissa W.
14. “It’s not the ‘easy option.’ It’s the very hardest option there is, but sometimes it seems as if it’s the only one.” — Lucy D.
15. “I wish others understood these thoughts are so dark, every second is a nightmare filled with anger, regret, self-hate [and] a guilt so deep the pain it causes forces you to believe your existence is not only unimportant, but a burden to others. It also means suicidal thoughts may cause you to fantasize about when, and in what way you would choose to end your life. It does not mean that you are actually planning to carry this out or that you truly intend to die. You may even know without a doubt that you will never actually do it. Still, the thoughts and the fantasy and the desire can remain on and off consistently.” — Heather W.
16. “I wish [people] knew that healing does not have a specific, quick, timeframe… It’s difficult to explain how things can recur without a limit or ladder of intensity. It’s much the same every time — the intrusive thoughts or full on desire to cease existence.” — Kayden M.
17. “I need to feel safe to talk about it without you panicking or making it about you. When the feelings are there, holding them in [so] someone else [won’t] freak out is just an added layer of stress.” — Jen L.
18. “[In my experience,] once you have experienced real contemplation of suicide, or even attempted it, these thoughts never really go away… Whether you get better on your own or with help, [oftentimes] these thoughts will come up again when you feel stressed, down or sometimes just randomly. The goal is to realize this, and recognize that when these thoughts become obsessive [you can do] something about it.” — Kevin M.
19. “Using guilt to try and make me not have [suicidal thoughts] only makes me feel worse.” — Athena C.
20. “Please, don’t walk eggshells around me. It makes it difficult to talk with you openly and I then start to feel guilty for bothering you with my problems. Be open and honest with me and let’s discuss why I’m feeling suicidal or experiencing those thoughts like adults. It’s easier to open up then.” — Keira G.
21. “I don’t get to decide when to have these thoughts. They just come from nowhere. I wish that people understood that depression and suicidal thoughts can be experienced by anyone regardless of race, religion or socioeconomic status. Just because I’m a black woman who’s also a Christian, they seem to think I should not be suicidal.” — Cameron T.
22. “I wish people understood how fragile I can become on some days. I can get to a point of such hopelessness that one push could send me over the edge. I try not to be this way but I’ve been through way too much… I need to be loved and nurtured now in my life.” — Karen E.
23. “[I wish people knew] I’m not a danger to others.” — Elizabeth D.
24. “I wish I was able to talk about it more. I’m very hesitant to talk about it with anyone because I don’t want pity and I’m not trying to get attention. I just want to talk about my struggles without being judged or labeled dangerous to myself. It’s a heavy burden to face every day and it’s a lonely one, too.” — Leticia E.
25. “Even when I wanted to die there was a small part of me that wanted to live.” — Kate P.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Thinkstock photo via AnkDesigns.