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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.

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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.

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

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