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How You Can Tell If I'm Having 'Passive' or 'Active' Suicidal Thoughts

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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 741741.

Let me begin by saying I am in no way a danger to myself or to others. This post is mostly being written to help educate others on the difference between active and passive suicidal thoughts.

The first thing someone usually thinks when an individual tells them they’re suicidal is they need to be put in a mental institution. They automatically assume the individual is going to kill themselves before the night is over. They’re wrong.

Many people will admit they feel suicidal on a regular basis, but a lot of the time, they only experience passive suicidal thoughts. Let’s break down the difference for a moment.

Active suicidal thoughts mean a person has come up with a plan to kill themselves and has taken the steps to put that plan into motion. They may or may not reach out to their loved ones and say their last goodbyes. Passive suicidal thoughts mean an individual thinks about death almost on a regular basis, but has no plan to carry out the deed.

I have experienced suicidal thoughts since I was a child. I remember them starting as early as 10 or 11 years old, however, I wasn’t diagnosed with any kind of illness until I was 12. I’ve basically been suicidal continuously since I was that young. However, the majority of the suicidal thoughts I’ve had have all been passive.

When I say I’m suicidal, this is what I mean:

My life is riddled with anxiety on a 24/7 basis, and my thoughts are consumed by depression and traumatic events I can’t seem to escape. All I want is for the pain to go away. I want to experience life for what it was really supposed to be for me. I want a brain that does what it’s supposed to do. I’m tired of the sadness and the fact that depression seems to linger over my head no matter how many happy thoughts I think and how many happy experiences I have. I don’t want to die because I hate my life and everything about it. I actually love life and have a zest for it. No. I want to die because I’m tired of the pain. It has been 10 years since I was diagnosed. I have been fighting this war for much too long and quite frankly, I’m not only exhausted, but I’m just completely over it. I’m ready for everything to go away. But it doesn’t seem to, and therefore, I believe death is the only answer. If I could live a life of peace within my own brain, I wouldn’t want to die.

Put it this way — I wouldn’t intentionally walk out in front of a car so that they will hit me, but I sure as hell wouldn’t mind if they swerved off the road and hit me while I was walking.

I have been actively suicidal many times since I was diagnosed. I’ve been to the emergency room several times, and have been hospitalized once. I know what it’s like to experience intrusive suicidal thoughts to the point where you can hardly function. All I could think was the people closest to me were better off without me, and I didn’t deserve the life I had been given. I know what it’s like to come up with a plan to end your own life, and nearly carry through with it.

Believe me when I say, if I tell you I’m feeling suicidal, it’s passive. I’m a pretty straightforward person. If I have a plan, I’m probably going to tell someone, like I did when I was hospitalized. Unless I state I have a plan, you have nothing to worry about.

Sure, you should be concerned, because I’m obviously still feeling enough pain in my life to still think about death. But you do not have to worry about me taking steps to end my life.

There’s actually some beauty in passive suicidal thoughts. For me, it means I am resilient enough to keep them at bay. It means I have the ability to understand there is still some beauty in this world and I want to be around to see it.

I’m proud of the fact that despite thinking of death every single day from the moment I wake up until the moment I fall asleep, I am able to find the beauty in life and the small things that bring me joy. I try to fill my days with laughter, smiles, good humor, coffee and meaningful conversations. It reminds me of why I choose not to come up with a plan and carry it out.

I fight to keep my suicidal thoughts passive so they can’t win.

There’s no telling if and when my passive suicidal thoughts will ever become active again. I like to think that since my hospitalization, I have a little bit better of a hold on them. Life has been treating me well these last few months and I like to think it’s all enough to keep the thoughts at bay. On the bad days, I think about all of the things I’m going to miss out on if I were to leave too soon. That’s enough to keep them as passive for the time being.

Getty Images photo via Grandfailure

Originally published: February 20, 2018
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