17 Signs You Grew Up With Suicidal Thoughts
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.
Growing up, we often aren’t taught about mental illness — and about suicide, we are often taught even less. So if you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, especially as an adolescent, it can be all too easy to think there’s something wrong with you for feeling this way — especially if parents and adults in your life are telling you it’s “just a phase” or invalidating your very real struggles.
But there’s nothing wrong with someone who has suicidal thoughts — and no one is “too young” to feel that pain. The reality is, many kids and teens do experience suicidal ideation, and we need to talk about it and know the signs.
To find out how people knew they experienced suicidal thoughts growing up, we asked our mental health community to share, in hindsight, the signs that made it clear. No matter what your experience growing up was, it is important to remember hope is never lost and there is help out there.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “I used to wish and pray for bad things to happen to me so I would have a reason to feel the way I did. I didn’t realize they weren’t ‘normal’ thoughts for a kid.” — Becca W.
2. “At first, I became resentful — toward everyone. I thought my family just wasn’t doing enough, that no one really provided the support I needed. Then, as I got a bit older, I resented myself. I still didn’t feel supported, but I told myself it was my fault, that I was to blame. And so I closed myself off from everyone else. I didn’t go out with friends, I didn’t date and I certainly didn’t share my feelings. What was the point, if at any moment, I may finally take my own life and rid them all of the burden of having me around? And so I missed out on so many opportunities to develop lasting friendships or even strong bonds with relatives. Because I thought it was a gift to them, especially for when I was no longer here.” — Thomas J.
3. “I never planned out my future because I never expected I’d ever get here. Now I feel lost and confused because I got further in life than I ever expected to, and now I feel like I’m too far behind to ever catch up.” — Emrys M.
4. “I routinely thought about running away when I was really young.” — Samantha E.
5. “I would sleep for hours because I thought sleeping would chase away those thoughts. Not at all! I developed insomnia because my dreams scared me so much.” — Glenda W.
6. “I stayed really busy. I didn’t leave time for myself to have bad thoughts. When I was in high school, I was there from 6:30 a.m. to at least 6 at night. Some nights it was until 9. Because of all the extracurriculars, I was able to suppress those thoughts. Until the weekends… then everything would crash down. I wished my life was done so I never had to feel the way I did at home ever again.” — Kayla C.
7. “I stopped trusting people. I had gone to my mom and tried to tell her I was having these scary thoughts and feelings. She told me to shut up and go to bed. Next, I tried to tell a counselor at school. He called my father and told him I was making up lies about my home life and trying to get attention. All I wanted was help. To this day, I struggle deeply with trust issues and keep my feelings to myself because I [fear] nobody really cares.” — Shari W.
8. “I would draw. I would spend my day secluding myself somewhere, like my bedroom or in my tree hideout and draw out my emotions… I still draw my emotions. I still seclude myself. Many days, [I feel like] I would be better off dead.” — Ally M.
9. “I first started thinking about suicide at age 7. Growing up in a Christian house, I relied on Bible verses about how life is a gift and my body is a temple to help me decide to live. I threw myself into values that would keep me alive — such as family — and made sure to notice I would be missed if I were gone. In a way, this helped me to appreciate the love I had around me.” — Mara H.
10. “I avoid places or things I could use to harm myself… It’s confusing, I hear these thoughts in my head but sometimes I really do want to live.” — Thaydean B.
11. “I would randomly wake up in the middle of the night and cry all night or until my mother knocked on the door and told me to get out. I would sit on the floor feeling sorry for myself asking myself why I was alive and how much of a burden I was or even how better life would be for my family if I were gone. I would stare into the mirror and tell myself how unworthy I was and would mock myself because I felt so pathetic — so lonely and so far away from the people around me. Right after, I would wash my face and tell myself — try to convince myself — I would get better.” — Kayla W.
12. “I would, and still do at times, take extreme life-threatening risks because I had no concern for my life or safety.” — Hollie H.
13. “I would hide under the bed and hope I wasn’t ‘bad’ because I wanted to hurt myself.” — Fox I.
14. “I started experiencing suicidal ideations when I was 11 which was well before I knew what suicide was, so I used to go to bed and pray to God I just wouldn’t wake up in the morning. But I always did.” — Dara D.
15. “I became more sensitive to my needs when I start slipping. I talk to very few people about what’s going on in my head but one person in particular I have known since I was a teen. He’s seen me in my ups and downs and will always listen and make time to talk to me when I need to. I grew up spending all my teenage [years] fighting severe depression, have been admitted for the care I needed and have dealt with self-harm and suicidal thoughts. I look back at how I handled everything, the signals my mind presented as I spiraled. I vowed never again will I allow myself to get to that point again. I always seek help when I know I need it.” — Erin W.
16. “I would beg my mom not to make me go to school and I wrote poems about what I was feeling and going through. I also used to stay in my room most of the time and I wouldn’t have anything to do with the rest of the family. My mom asked me what was wrong and I told her I just felt like I was in everybody’s way.” — Kimberly T.
17. “I planned out so much of my future because it was one of my ways of battling those thoughts. To give myself an objective, no matter how big or small, made me quiet those thoughts so I could actually look forward to something in life.” — Audra B.
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 Archv.