36 'Comfort Items' People Turn to When They're Struggling With Suicidal Thoughts
Suicidal thoughts can be incredibly intrusive, overpowering and all-consuming. If you’ve struggled with them before, you may know how difficult it is to fight back and keep going despite what the thoughts are telling you.
When your world feels painfully inescapable and lonely due to suicidal thoughts, sometimes small, but familiar items can help you stay grounded. That’s why we asked our Mighty mental health community to share a “comfort item” they turn to when they’re struggling with suicidal thoughts. Because although it’s important to have a person you can reach out to when you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, adding a tangible object to your coping skills toolkit can be so helpful during difficult moments.
Here is what our community shared with us:
1. “My dogs and cat. Especially my cat. She knows when something is wrong with me and will love on me as if to say, ‘It’s OK. I’m here and I love you.’ If it gets too bad she’ll actually fetch my husband so he can talk me down. She’s woken him up in the middle of the night several times for me. And if he’s not home she’ll get the dogs in on it.” — Emily N.
2. “I typically get my stuffed animal and old baby blanket, then I lie on the couch or bed watching ‘Adventure Time’ while my cat, Nibbs, lays on me because she knows somethings wrong.” — Tamara B.
3. “My car. It gives me control of my life again and my music surrounds me to drown out the thoughts.” — Falina B.
4. “My horse Ella. I remind myself how much she depends on me and only me. She picked me when I survived my suicide attempt, and when I get suicidal again I remember how much I mean to her and how far she’s come and I’ve come too.” — Sarah H.
5. “Coloring books, blogging and my pets help a lot with these thoughts. I also find it very hard on some days to push myself to do this. Find your support system. Tell them to be aware of certain signs and when they see those signs, try cuddling and then suggest one of these activities while talking about some of these feelings.” — Alex T.
6. “My rats. They are so affectionate and so gentle and are always so happy and excited to see me. They always cheer me up on my hardest days” — Alysha P.
7. “I write poetry. Albeit it’s self-absorbed and not very good, but I write poetry. It gets all the darkness out of my head. It’s OK to feel it. I have to remember that. I just have to get it out.” — Nicole L.
8. “I’ve started to make forts out of blankets surrounding my bed or under desks. I used to do it as a kid when I was scared or upset, and I’ve figured that there’s nothing wrong with going back to childhood comforts if it helps you as an adult. I made a fort around my bed and put fluffy cushions and teddies in there so that I can hide and watch films in my cozy, enclosed space. It’s so comforting when I feel vulnerable. Sometimes when you need that level of comfort, you need to treat yourself the way you would look after a child.” — Abby A.
9. “Honestly, I grab my (very beaten up) edition of ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” and my Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal that I got for my third birthday. My Pooh Bear helps remind me that everything is going to be OK, and gives me something to hug. When I felt like I had no one, I always knew I could just read ‘Harry Potter,’ and I felt like I had friends who understood me. It’s kind of silly, but they are my anchors back to reality when my mind starts to tell me everyone is better off without me.” — Kayla M.
10. “Oreo cookies. They remind me of the little good things that happened in my life. I don’t really have to eat them to calm myself down, I just hold them in my hand and don’t let myself get devoured by my dark thoughts” — Sana H.
11. “Before I believed in God I always thought of tomorrow, especially when I was super-duper depressed. Because, somehow, I always discovered at least some small light that made my life brighter. Later, I discovered these as the little miracles that flit around the periphery of my vision.” — Stephan H.
12. “Ice — to keep grounded.” — Anna Z.
13. “My dogs. If it wasn’t for my husky I would have attempted when I was with my ex-boyfriend. But my dog was the reason I didn’t.” — Jodie H.
14. “Weighted blanket. Burrowing under one of those and just letting the warm heavy weight press on me makes me feel comforted and calm.” — Allie M.
15. “The soft blanket candle from Yankee Candle. I was going through a terrible and painful moment in my life when my girlfriend gifted me it. We were long distance, so whenever I felt terrible and lonely I’d put it on while chatting with her and it always helped. Now on hard days the smell and her cuddles make it so much easier than back then.” — Bere W.
16. “My kids are probably the only reason I’m still alive. When I get in a bad place in my head all I have to do is remember how much love they have for me. It doesn’t make my depression better, but it does keep me from following through with my suicidal ideations.” — Julie O.
17. “Voice recordings I asked my therapist to make for me. Having her voice to listen to is grounding and soothing and reminds me I’m not alone and there’s someone who’d care if I was gone.” — Monika S.
18. “Video games. Sometimes the more complex the better. First-person when I generally feel down, but real-time strategy for those times I feel like drinking the world through a straw.” — Alan P.
19. “I have three ‘calm down’ shows that I’ve watched over and over again but I can always get lost in. When I’m struggling with suicidal thoughts, I nearly always watch ‘New Girl.'” — Anna P.
20. “I scream into my pillow. Or cry in the bathroom for hours. Listen to music, usually one song on repeat that I can relate to at that particular moment. Or I eat. So many different things really. Sometimes I think of my mum. But they’re all just distractions. It’s difficult, but it helps at that particular moment, and I can live to fight another day.” — Annalize D.
21. “Usually I nap and hope that when I wake up I’m more refreshed to deal with my issues at hand and my thoughts.” — Pamela C.
22. “I make my house messy. The thought of someone finding my house a mess stops me from moving forward. Then as I am processing my suicidal idealization I clean and organize. The process is soothing for me.” — Ashley S.
23. “Certain family or friends, my pets, or I plug in my earphones and listen to Linkin Park really loud.” — Kat W.
24. “My children’s toys, ones they have been cuddling recently so they smell just like my kids. That way even when the kids are in bed or staying with my other people they still feel near. It helps remind me what I am fighting for.” — Heather F.
25. “I typically look through or use my coloring books, or even watch people color and chat on YouTube. It’s my autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR)!” — Cassy H.
26. “Usually getting in an old big comfy sweater that’s well loved and used. And drinking hot tea.” — Courtnie B.
27. “I watch documentaries about disasters, like ‘Disasters of the Century.’ It puts into perspective that life is short and makes me reflect on death. It also makes me feel like I’m not the only one who has struggled in a world that demands constant happy thoughts.” — Andrea G.
28. “It sounds weird and it seems small, but I think of my two betta fish, Freja and Tyr. If I weren’t here tomorrow, who would feed them? They won’t understand why I’m gone. They are given good care. If I were gone, someone would stick them in a fish bowl of cold water. I can’t let that happen to them. Freja and Tyr help me. This is Freja, my female.” — Shayla D.
29. “When I’m in bed I have a lot of pillows. I use them and place them all around my body so I am cocooned, feeling safe, warm and comforted. It helps me sleep as well. Its great, especially when you don’t have an significant other to spoon.” — Karla L.
30. “I try to write it out if I can’t talk to anyone. I listen to a playlist I made called ‘Stay Alive’ and just try to distract myself with cleaning or something easily achievable.” — Haley F.
31. “Music. The only thing that takes my mind completely turn off everything is being on stage and playing piano. I use songwriting as a means of getting my problems out on paper, and performing my songs as a means of shouting at people about said problems.” — Jenfa S.
32. “My hoodie. My hoodie wraps around me, allows me to tuck my head in and just feel that warmth I need.” — Becca D.
33. “A bear that someone, who used to be my mentor once, gave me during an outing that she and I took. I hold onto it and remember her words of encouragement that she said to me years ago. I haven’t seen her in a very long time but her words still echo in my mind when I’m at my lowest points.” — Cherri N.
34. “Audio books. I find hearing someone else’s voice and words calming and it distracts me from my destructive thoughts. Also my mindfulness meditation apps.” — Jo M.
35. “My pen, I draw on myself to remind myself that I’m a work of art.” — Rose M.
36. “My service puppy. This is him trying to help out.” — Debora B.
What would you add?
Getty image via Vera_Alferava