21 Things People Say That Can Actually Be Code For 'I'm Suicidal'

21 Things People Said That Were Actually Code for 'I'm Suicidal'


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.

Oftentimes, when someone is feeling suicidal, they won’t come right out and say it. Some may hint at what they are feeling, hoping others pick up on the clues. Others may use language that means “I’m suicidal” without actually saying the words — because saying them can sometimes make it feel too real, or you might be afraid of how others will react. 

No matter what reason someone has for using “code words,” it’s important we talk about what kinds of phrases to look out for. Talking about these phrases can help us identify loved ones who are really struggling and get them to the resources and support they need.

To find out what people said when they were feeling suicidal, we asked members of our Mighty community who have been suicidal to share one thing they said that was really code for “I’m suicidal.”

Here’s what our community shared with us:

1. “I’m just tired.”

“Not physically tired, but emotionally. I’m just exhausted.” — Sonja R.

“Most of us hide our feelings and won’t ever say anything. We just try to sleep because those are the only couple hours our minds get rest before we end up exhausted again fighting demons inside us.” — Lucy O.

“I always hid all my feelings, from anyone and everyone, so I told them I was fine but being ‘just tired’ meant tired of life, the constant symptoms of mental illness and myself.” — Amy W.

2. “I just want to be done.”

“That’s a common one of mine. Or I would/will make ‘jokes’ saying something like, ‘Oh look, a cliff. I’ll be right back.” Things like that only get an uncomfortable chuckle in response though.” — Tabitha A.

“[This] gets understood as wanting how I’m feeling at that point to be over, [when] I’m actually talking about life itself.” — Jamie G.

3. “I just want to sleep.”

“Innocent enough, but deep down, it was a cry for help.” — Josie S.

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

4. “I can’t keep doing this.”

“They think I mean whatever stressor I’m dealing with, they don’t realize it’s life I feel like I can’t do any more.” — Jessica E.

5. “I just want to be alone.”

“When I don’t want to share with those closest to me, I say ‘I just want to be alone.’ That statement is huge for me because I literally never want to be alone.” — Nicole P.

“Sad to say I still say this. I bottle up my feelings and I barely cry unless I’m so pissed off.” — MaKayla D.

“Repeating, ‘I want to be alone’ over and over. Losing interest in things I love always should be a sign to others I am not handling myself well.” — Helen P.

6. “I want to go home.”

I used to always say ‘I want to go home.’ Life felt so meaningless and hard that nowhere felt familiar, nowhere felt like home. The idea of going home or being at home was so unattainable that ‘home’ became an idea I just couldn’t reach, and in my most distressing moments, I wanted nothing more than to go home, or to just cease to exist.” — Gabby W.

“I want to go home. Like home is an unattainable thing that can never be reached.” — Jesse C.

I’ve said, ‘I want to go home’ or make ‘lighthearted’ jokes about it. Something like, if they ask if they can do anything I’ll be like, ‘You could run me over with a car, haha JK!” — Violet S.

7. “If anything happens to me, promise to take care of…”

“For me it’s ‘If anything happens to me, promise to take care of my animals.’” — Liz A.

8. “I’m just stressed out.”

“I’ve been getting better handling my depression and anxiety through work. My job is like my therapy because I can focus on the task at hand and not about the negatives things going on in my life. My daughter is also helping me realize she has better chance at a happier life with me being around than she would if I was gone.” — Stephanie F.

9. “I’m having a hard time.”

“’I’m having a hard time.’ But mostly I’m silent, and that’s what concerns me and others.” — Diane P.

10. “No one cares.”

“I feel like I’m an afterthought to everybody… I feel like I’ve said those words so many times, sometimes it’s a daily struggle to hold myself together.” — Amanda O.

11. “I don’t care.”

“What you’re hearing is that I’m callous and apathetic, but what I’m saying is I’m completely consumed by suicidal thoughts and don’t have the mental energy to spare for other things.” — Robi K.

“Saying ‘I don’t care’ a lot. But nobody notices.” — Shayna K.

12. “What will heaven be like?”

“At the time when I was dealing with suicidal thoughts, I was very religious, and I would often engage people at my church in conversations about heaven — what we thought it might be like, how much better it would be than here and how much I wanted to be there. My church didn’t believe that suicide was an automatic ticket to hell, so thinking about heaven was equivalent to me thinking about how much better off I would be if I were dead. My beliefs are quite different now, but themes of a possible afterlife could definitely be a warning sign.” — Heather S.

“[I said], ‘Soon I’ll be home with my Heavenly Father.’” — Sienna K.

13. “I should just kill myself.”

“Me joking about me killing myself in any way is honestly a red flag for when I feel like I want to die… And while I’m mostly joking, it’s also a code for how much I want to be dead.” — Caleb W.

“In general making jokes about dying or being suicidal. Sometimes they know I’m serious because people know me well enough, but sometimes not.” —Helena T.

14. “I can’t imagine living the rest of my life like this.”

“Most people don’t get the seriousness behind it. When I say I literally can’t see past all the problems. It’s hard to think that depression and anxiety are something I have to live with every day for the rest of my life. I just hope to find better ways of coping and dealing with it.” — Megan N.

15. “I feel so much better.”

“‘I feel so much better.’ If you know someone who is depressed and they suddenly start making statements like this, they [may] have decided to die…” — Stephu C.

16. “You know I love you, right?”

“My boyfriend has talked me out of suicide several times because he knows when I say those words, it’s bad. It’s my subtle cry for help without saying, ‘I want to die.’” — Maya P.

I recall one day where I was just so emotional of the fact that [suicide loss survivors] never get their last goodbye. They’re always left with, ‘I just want to tell them I love them one last time,’ so I did exactly that. I spent a whole week with a specific member of my family each day. I talked with all my friends on the phone, told them how much I loved and appreciated them. Most of the guys were a little uneasy but appreciated it nonetheless. Then on the last day of the week, I stayed up talking with my best friend and told him how much I loved him. He was the only one [who] caught on. He spent the entire night talking me through all of my emotions and giving me motivation to hang on. I don’t know where I’d be if it wasn’t for him, he’s the best I could ask for.” — Nic R.

17. “I want to disappear.”

“‘I just feel like disappearing’ when I mean I want to end this suffering.” — Amanda L.

“I wonder what it would be like if I could just disappear… Would anyone notice?” — Cora C.

18. “I want to tell you something. Oh, never mind.”

submitted by Emma M.

19. “ I don’t know.”

“‘I don’t know’ is sometimes code for, ‘I haven’t thought that far because the first thing my brain jumps to is ending my life.’” — Nick B.

20. “I’m not feeling good.”

“My grandma is the one who always supports me, through anything. So when I get these suicidal thoughts, and begin to fall down into deeper state of depression I would say, ‘I’m not feeling good.’ But her being a mother, she always knew and would comfort me and give me space. It’s really only her who knows, but my close friends don’t know it’s a silent cry for help.” — Alex S.

21. “I don’t think I’ll be at school next week.”

“I said to my friend, ‘I don’t think I will come back to school next week. She asked why. I just said, ‘Because I just don’t want to do it anymore. I had been planning to [attempt] suicide that weekend, I had it all planned out. Then I found out I was pregnant with my son. He literally saved my life. He is 5 years old now and started school this year.” — Katy M.

If someone makes a comment you are concerned about, the best thing you can do is ask them directly, “Are you feeling suicidal?” Contrary to popular myth, asking this question directly will not encourage a suicide attempt or put the idea in their head. Opening up the conversation in a nonjudgmental way can give them the opportunity to talk about it.

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.

Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure

RELATED VIDEOS

Flowers and a candle

Mother's Moving Obituary Points Out a Flaw in Our Mental Health System


When someone dies by suicide, it can be hard to speak the word, let alone reflect on the tragedy thoughtfully in the immediate aftermath. In an obituary for her adopted son, Sergei Neubauer, Mary Neubauer not only opened up about her son’s cause of death, but wrote a beautiful message for others who may be struggling as well.

She starts by describing who Sergei was, and then goes on to name what he struggled with:

An enormously talented and gifted young man, he had experiences and adventures few could even imagine. He brought joy to those around him with his warm smile, quick wit and sometimes wicked sense of humor. He was a fun-loving teenager who often went out of his way to help others, particularly those he believed were vulnerable or hurting.

But Sergei also struggled throughout his life with depression, anxiety, PTSD and survivor’s guilt related to his tumultuous childhood in Russia. He had worked for years to overcome mental illness. It is right to acknowledge and honor the progress he had made while recognizing the toll that struggle took on his life.

According to The Des Moines Register, Neubauer and her husband, Larry Loss, adopted Sergei in 2009. Neubauer told The Des Moines Register after a few one-on-ones with Sergei, “We knew that was our son.”

But Sergei’s childhood trauma still affected him, and after graduating from high school he started to self-harm. The Des Moines Register reported that Sergei spent more than a week in inpatient mental health care, but continued to severely hurt himself after he was released. The Iowa-based couple had trouble finding long-term care for their son, and eventually settled on treatment center out of state.

“I shudder and weep for anyone who does not have the resources we did to put behind their child’s care,” Neubauer told The Des Moines Register. “There is nothing out there to guide people. We spent hours researching and calling (departments of human services) across the country.”

This struggle to find Sergei help is echoed in his obituary:

Mary and Larry are so proud that Sergei was their son. They know they are more caring and better enlightened people for having him in their lives. They plead with lawmakers and policymakers everywhere to recognize the toll that mental health struggles and addictions are taking on our society, particularly our young people. They believe it is a crisis facing America, one that must be acknowledged, better understood and ultimately addressed for people to have the tools to heal. Iowa did not have adequate mental-health resources during Sergei’s times of crisis, and he spent several months out of state this year in residential treatment.

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

Lack of access to mental health treatment is a huge issue in the U.S. In a report issued by Mental Health America, it was found that 56.5 percent of adults with mental illness received no past year treatment, and for those seeking treatment, 20.3 percent continue to report unmet treatment needs. Although Sergei’s family was able to find him long-term treatment out of state, there wasn’t enough support locally to potentially prevent his suicide.

In the obituary, Neubauer said, “Sergei took the brave step of asking for help,” and urged others to do the same if they’re struggling. She also had four requests in light of his death. She wrote:

1. If you need help, ask for it. Can it be scary to take that step? No doubt. But you are not alone.

2. Seek to build others up, not tear them down. In little ways every day, we each can try to make a constructive difference. A smile, a kind word, a moment of your time can make a huge impact on others.

3. Avoid drama. It does no good. Use your energy more wisely – there is only so much to go around.

4. Recognize small moments of joy, for they happen all the time. We just have to notice.

We’re so sorry for the loss of Sergei Neubauer, and thank his parents for opening up an important conversation.

You can read the full obituary here

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, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

abstract painting of man walking alone through a city

19 Things People Don't Realize You're Doing Because You're Suicidal


Too many times we hear heartbreaking stories from those whose loved ones have died by suicide, wondering why they didn’t see the signs. Wondering what red flags they were missing. Wondering what preventative actions they could have taken if only they had known.

Because from the outside looking in, mental illness and suicidal thoughts don’t have a “type.” There is no description or look to “someone who is suicidal.” And from the inside looking out, it can be hard to communicate what might be going on as it unfolds.

That is why we asked our Mighty mental health community to tell us things people didn’t realize they were doing because they were suicidal. It’s important to remember that everyone is different, but by taking time to reflect on what red flags others (and ourselves) should be aware of, we might be able to prevent another story from ending too soon. 

Here is what they had to say:

1. “I usually start cleaning things, like my social media accounts (removing pictures, quotes, statuses etc.). I also tend to avoid going out and try sleeping a lot to pass time and avoid emotions.” — Lauren G.

2. “Taking care of everything. When I’m really suicidal, I fulfill all my responsibilities and do things I’ve forgotten or neglected so that people won’t have to worry about it when I’m gone. I also tell people how much I love and appreciate them because I don’t want to leave without the people around me knowing how important they are.” — Julia W.

3. “Dress really colorfully. I tend to overcompensate for my depression with colorful clothes.” — Brandi S.

4. “I don’t take care of my health and I don’t have very good self-care. This includes not brushing my teeth or my hair, eating unhealthy food or not eating at all, never sleeping when I want to.” — Anias B.

5. “I dissociate. I don’t answer what few phone calls or texts I get. I don’t go to appointments, self-care is at a low. A couch, bed or my car is the safest places in those times because I don’t have to worry about rejection, judgment or trying to feel anything. I will make poor financial choices to ‘make myself feel better’ because I figure why not do whatever I can to make myself happy or feel alive like everyone else around me.” — Knowledge L.

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

6. “Obsessively filing and painting my nails, trying to make them perfect. It distracts the hands and mind.” — Angela L.

7. “Don’t really talk to anyone about it. [I] drink alcohol and skip work” — Holly L.

8. “I go for a walk and listen to music about how I feel. I usually come home with a new perspective, or at least feeling better after crying it out a little and realizing I’m not alone in this. Music always reminds me I’m not alone.” — Andy S.

9. “Not making decisions — just letting things happen around me.” — Laura M

10. “Spacing out I guess. Just staring into blank space.” — Lian S.

11. “I become quiet. I won’t talk much or engage in any conversation with anyone, because [if I’m having those days] I usually think about it: what would happen to my loved ones, how am I gonna do it, etc.” — Mae R.

12. “I start over-expending and exaggerating everything I do. I push myself harder so that people don’t worry about me, but then I reach a breaking point and disappear for a couple of days. I will also start rearranging things, even if they’re minuscule to some. It helps me get a clearer view on things if I feel like I can control what I’m doing.” — Jolyn T.

13. “Not posting or talking much on Facebook. I get to a point where my mind is filled with ideas of suicide, and all I have to talk about is how I feel. So I stop posting, commenting or in-boxing. I was watching ‘Supernatural’ (my favorite show). It helps get me through quite often, but wasn’t helpful tonight, so I went and laid down and slept.” — James C.

14. “Locking myself in the bathroom so I can sit and cry, scream or pray and get through it on my own or in the shower. I isolate myself from people and even hide away from my family I live with and struggle alone.” — Veronica R.

15. “I always love to give gifts, but when I start handing away things that have sentimental value to me, I’m cleaning up before an attempt.” — Teri R.

16. “Watch suicide attempt videos and listening to suicidal songs. I thank everybody I know for their love and kindness. I isolate myself, withdraw from social activities and lie that I am ill.” — Kitty C.

17. “Looking for things that make me want to stay. And if I can’t find anything I just put on a smile so that no one suspects anything.” — Sikarin P.

18. “I stop planning for the future. Halloween costume? What Christmas presents to buy? I stop all of that trivial planning.” — Tanya L.

19. “I lose my appetite completely which is a bad sign because I love my food. [I] also cut myself off from people.” — Patricia Y.

If you’re worried a loved one might be suicidal, here is a resource that might help. If you are currently struggling with suicidal thoughts, know you are not alone, and please don’t hesitate to reach out

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, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure

Watercolor and Ink Portrait of a Girl Holding Heart. Stylish Valentine's Day Illustration.

The Question I Struggle With When I'm Feeling Suicidal


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.

Do I stay or do I go?

I grapple with this question constantly in what I’ve come to call my fight between hope and hopelessness.

I fear what’s ahead. What has often kept me on this earth alive is the hope the future will somehow be good, so good, and make up for the trauma from my childhood. But what if it’s not? What if the good doesn’t outweigh the bad in the end? What if I never reach my goals? Or travel? Or find love — be in my “tribe” or find my other half? What if I never feel OK, and whole, and free? What if I settle? What if? What if I don’t make it there and all I ever experience is this crappy set of circumstances? But then, what if I do? What if I make peace with myself and feel confident, strong and healthy one day? What if I marry? Someone truly great and it lasts for 50 years and counting? What if I have a wonderful kid who loves me to the moon and back? What if I have two? The good, the bad, I just can’t know. But I know that as long as my heart is still beating, I’m closer and closer with every passing second to a future filled with potentially amazing things.

So this too shall pass. It might pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass nonetheless. Then, the sunshine that only seems to reach others will reach me too and renew. Is it cheesy to have hope? Maybe. Sometimes I certainly think so. OK, most times. But right now it means my survival. Something inside of me is scared and refuses to loosen its grip on life because I could miss out on the complete 360 that could happen.

I see now the only way past is through. My family won’t change. The damage is done. I just have to survive this now and get to the other side of it. Simple as that… in theory. In practice, this leaves me feeling shattered. Over and over again, I am shattered, trying to get to the other side of this. And I bleed trying to put my pieces back together into one. It is hard work finding me again, the me before I learned to be afraid and make myself small, insecure and soft spoken. But this is not all of who I am. There is a whole person buried within. You sometimes hear of beautiful, entire cities that lie submerged by the sea. That’s what it’s like. There is a whole person buried within. A beautiful person. A caring person. A patient person. A worthy person. A person. Worthy.

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

The hardest part about depression is feeling like all that remains is a shell of that person. Not being able to connect deeply with others anymore, and worse, not being able to connect with yourself. It is a pain that you can taste like blood in your mouth. And it can’t fully be comprehended unless you’ve experienced it yourself. But I’m in here and I’m absolutely worth the time and trial and error it is taking to feel whole again.

Every single second of it.

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.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via brickrena.

Dear Hubby, I'm Sorry I Tried to Kill Myself


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.

Dear Hubby,

You saw me, the women you had loved for 14 years with tubes coming out of every orifice not knowing whether I would live or die. You held my hand as I lay unconscious wondering how the hell this had even happened. You took that phone call nobody ever wants to get. You had the awful job of explaining to the children their mother was not visiting their uncle up north like she had said she was, she had in fact been in hospital. And when she was supposed to be safe and getting help, she had instead tried to die by suicide.

That is not a conversation any parent wants to or should have to have with their kids.

I am so sorry I wasn’t as open with you about my feelings as I should have been. I am so sorry I put you in a position of uncertainty.

I am sorry I tried to kill myself.

Memories of the time I spent in hospital are patchy to say the least. I remember my brother and sister visiting from interstate, my best friend crying by my bedside, my sister comforting me when I was delusional and terrified thinking I had been cast in some awful reality TV drama. But I don’t actually remember seeing you until I was moved back onto the unit, funny because you were with me for every single minute I was in intensive care, only parting my side when the helicopter transferred me from the small country mental health unit I was in, to the big city hospital.

The only image I have of you from that time is the flash of anguish and hurt in your eyes, and the sound of your voice straining as you tried so hard to keep loving me. To keep loving this woman who tried to leave you in the most awful and permanent kind of way, this woman who had shared your life, your dreams and bore your children. Now, you may have thought you didn’t really know her after all.

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

But you honored your marriage vows — in sickness and in health. You blocked out everything except family. You didn’t even go to work so that every single day of the two months I spent on the mental health unit after my attempt you could be there for me — bringing me edible food, talking to me, advocating for me and just loving me. Even on the days when the hurt was too much for you to bear and you could hardly make eye contact, you still came and sat with me, perhaps just making sure it wouldn’t happen again.

When the hospital finally let me come home, you followed me around the house like a puppy for weeks. Sometimes I got angry because I felt like you didn’t trust me even to go to the bathroom by myself. You counted my pills out for me and watched me take them before locking them back up into their box. You refused to go back to work for months, your priorities had changed and now above all you had to keep me safe.

That was two years ago now. We have walked a long road but the trust has slowly grown again as the fear gradually dissipates. In many ways, our relationship is stronger than ever before. We are more open about our feelings, you work hard to understand my anxieties and I work hard to be honest about them. I know without a shadow of a doubt just how much you love me. You are my protector, my lover and my friend.

You ride the roller coaster of my bipolar disorder every day, you smile knowingly and hide the credit card when I start listing off my manic ideas and calmly and rationally talk me down when the black dog tries once more to swallow my soul. Sometimes when hormones flood me and I just break down and cry, you ask me what’s wrong and I can’t give you an answer you because there is no “real reason.” On those occasions I see that same hurt from the hospital flash into your eyes for a moment before you make the decision to trust me and you just hold me in your arms lovingly and try to make me laugh until I feel better.

I don’t think there are words to accurately describe just how much I love you and how much I appreciate everything you do for our family every single day. You are an amazing father, my soul mate and my rock.

Love always,

Kate

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.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Unsplash photo via Mickael Tournier

two young women talking to third female friend upset

3 Things People Contemplating Suicide Need to Hear


Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Here are three things people contemplating suicide need to hear:

1. You matter, you are loved, and people would be worse off if you died.

2. It gets better.

3. There is help that actually helps, and I can help you obtain it.

We tend to do a pretty good job with number one when confronted with someone actually contemplating suicide. We could do a better job of saying it more frequently, whether we think people need to hear it or not, because lots of people need affirmation even though they don’t appear to be in dire straits.

We also tend to do a pretty good job with number three, at least some of the time. This one would be easier if mental health care were more financially accessible, and it’s important to work toward mental health care accessibility in addition to being supportive of people when they’re on the brink of irreversible decisions.

But societally, we’re pretty bad at number two. Think about the last time someone significantly younger than you told you how stressful or hard their life was. Did you sympathize? Did you tell them things get easier? Or did you say, as many people in my life have, “Just wait until you’re in high school/in college/working a real job/raising kids”?

That kind of response, when life already seems to be nothing but misery, is worse than unhelpful; it makes suicide seem rational, and it undercuts number one and number three. After all, if life feels terrible now and is just going to get worse, why stick around? Why continue living a miserable life just to avoid upsetting people with your death? Why try to access help to stop feeling this way, if feeling this way is the most reasonable response to your circumstances? This attitude breeds resentment toward those who care about you and an unwillingness to seek out help.

So please, the next time someone tells you how hard or stressful their life is, tell them it gets better. Tell them that with age comes the ability to set limits, the maturity to avoid getting hung up on the little things, the experience to take long to-do lists in stride, and the freedom to make their own decisions. Tell them these things help — they make life more bearable. Do this even if you think the other person is completely fine, because you never know for sure.

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

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, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world. 

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Real People. Real Stories.

8,000
CONTRIBUTORS
150 Million
READERS

We face disability, disease and mental illness together.