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17 Things People Don't Realize You're Doing Because You're Passively Suicidal

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. If you need support right now, you can call, text, or chat the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988, or text HOME to 741-741 to reach the Crisis Text Line if you are in the U.S. A list of crisis centers around the world can be found here.

When we think about preventing suicide, oftentimes we only think of helping folks who have gotten to their lowest point and have a plan to carry out suicide. And while we should definitely continue to prioritize these folks in crisis, sometimes we miss out on helping the people who aren’t in an immediate crisis, but still experience a steady and constant hum of suicidal thoughts in their daily lives.

These experiences can be differentiated with the terms “active” and “passive” suicidal thoughts. Mighty contributor Arya Grace broke down the difference in her piece, “Let’s Talk About the Difference Between Passive and Active Suicidal Thoughts.” She wrote,

Passive vs. active suicidality is something some people have problems wrapping their heads around. I can say with absolute certainty I’m suicidal… I have been for almost a year now. However, it’s passive. The difference between the two is very simple (but also super complex). Being passively suicidal means you wish to die. Actively suicidal is just that — you’ve got your plan and you’re planning on going through with the plan.

Though active and passive suicidal thoughts are different, both can still be incredibly debilitating and need to be talked about. We wanted to know what kinds of things people do when they’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, so we asked our mental health community to share one thing people don’t realize they are doing when they’re passively suicidal.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

1. “I stop putting effort into everything, often letting chores go undone or putting essential tasks off as long as possible.” — Megan G.

2. “I never make plans. Ever. Not for the weekend, for dinner, anything. Having something to look forward to makes me uncomfortable, nervous. Even when I’m feeling good. Maybe especially when I feel good. I can never shake the feeling that a nameless Something will ruin the plans. It took me nearly 20 years to realize I was the nameless Something.” — Sarah G.

3. “I engage in a lot of risky behaviors. I’m not sure whether it’s because I just don’t care anymore of if the adrenaline is a way to feel anything that replaces the constant anxiety and depression. I’ll drive through red lights, speed, swerving erratically through traffic, cross the street without looking, self-harm with less restraint, engage in risky sexual behaviors or abuse prescription and recreational drugs.” — Brendan J.

4. “I sit in bed. Actually no, I lay in bed. Without showers, without eating, without doing anything but sleep for hours and hours, even days on end.” — Leah K.

5. “The outside world becomes nothing to me. Whatever responsibilities I had don’t matter. Why do I need to worry about so-and-so deadline if I don’t want to be alive?” — AnaLucia P.

6. “I tend to make a lot of ‘weird jokes.’ Well everyone takes them as jokes. Like I’ll say… ‘I wish I was dead’ and I’ll laugh about it. I say these because it’s how I feel and I try make it known. But so far no one has said anything about them. Another example is if I see a death or someone experiencing suicidal thought on TV or social media, I’ll say ‘same.’” — Lauren P.

7. “I don’t have any form of hunger pangs or desire to eat. I don’t have a will to shower, cry, sleep, stay awake or even think. I just keep breathing, and somehow it’s enough. I forget my meds constantly, I don’t hydrate, I don’t exercise, I just have no motivation or energy. When I work, I pretend that everything is OK. I wear a hat to cover my unkempt hair, spray and deodorant to hide my neglect.” — Rita L.

8. “I don’t wear seat belts. Literally struggle to remember to wear one because it’s always been optional in my mind.” — Shelley A.

9. “I go into my own bubble: my bed. No one hears from me for days, and if so, it’s limited replies. The contemplation is always there — it’s a daily fight. I’m exhausted. Sometimes it’s easier to believe if you listen to the feeling it will be easier in the end. It’s like I’m a disappointment. I don’t eat. I don’t sleep. It’s just an endless circle.” — Brooke W.

10. “When someone asks what I’m thinking about I always say, ‘Nothing,’ because it’s so much easier to say than explaining the thoughts to someone who doesn’t understand.” — Raven W.

11. “I become very silent. I have nothing to say because I feel there’s nothing else worth talking about, and nothing will help. Sometimes even talking about it just makes me want it more, which is very upsetting. So I just stay silent, trying to mentally white-knuckle it through the thoughts.” — Jacinta M.

12. “Putting myself in risky situations. Just met a new person? I’m going home with you. Dating sites? Take me back to your place. In a sketchy neighborhood? Let me walk it at 2 a.m. River known to have strong currents? I’m swimming there anyways. It’s. Awful.” — Jewellia H.

13. “A sign that a lot of people tend to miss is sleep schedule. When I am passively suicidal I go to bed immediately or as soon as I get home. I will take sleeping pills at 5 p.m. and not wake up until morning just to stop the ideation. I usually try to let friends/housemates know that if I am sleeping for very long periods of time (especially at unusual times of the day) that’s a main way of knowing I am not doing OK.” — Steph M.

14. “When I’m ultra down and the only release is sleep, I don’t drink any sort of caffeine or energy drinks. I’ll have a stock of them, but they just sit there because drinking them would mean being conscious longer than I have to be.” — John B.

15. “I obsess about things my husband would be left with and unable to do or know about so I make lists. Endless, overwhelming, detailed, exhausting lists. Dog food and meds, where things are kept, who to give what to, etc. etc. etc. I don’t care about much of anything except making his life easier and less complicated if I’m gone.” — Jennifer B.

16. “Planning everything. I desperately search for activities. I have to know what is going on and prepare the social interactions. I have to put on a mask that says I’m OK, but the process can take so much time. Also, making plans help me to resonate myself during crisis. I like to think that I can’t end my life if I have to grab coffee or a beer with someone the next day.” — Albane L.

17. “I might make you laugh or smile. I might have an entertaining story. I’ve sat next to you all day. I’ve probably thought about suicide dozens of times already today. I’ve thought about ways to do it. I’ve thought that I wouldn’t be missed. I’m afraid if you knew what goes on in my head, you would judge me. So I have to keep it inside. I smile at you, but I don’t want to live anymore. I’m just biding my time feeling this raw pain that I know you wouldn’t understand. It doesn’t go away. (I’m safe. I’m currently in IOP. I have chronic suicidal ideations.)” — Cristie E.

How do you stay safe when you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts? For some ideas, we have a list of 10 survival tricks people use when they’re feeling suicidal.

Originally published: July 11, 2018
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