The Mighty Logo

50 Tattoos People Look at When They're Struggling With Suicidal Thoughts

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

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.

When you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, sometimes you just need one small reminder to keep going. That’s why, sometimes, we turn to tattoos — permanent reminders we etch on our skin, as proof we’ve made it before, so we can make it again.

We asked our Mighty mental health community to share with us tattoos they look at when they’re struggling with suicidal thoughts. Whatever sentiment reminds you to keep going, hang on to that. You’re important and deserving, and we’re so glad you’re here.

Here is what our community shared with us:

1.I got this last year. The lotus flower blooms in the muddiest of waters and helps remind me to try and do the same. Semicolon to remind myself that I have continued fighting in the past and will keep going, and the infinity hearts to remind myself why I keep going (for the people I love).” — Maureen H.

tattoo on women's leg

2. “I just covered up 15 years of self-harm scars. I still get urges sometimes and have scars on other places, but this tattoo works as a vivid reminder. I knew I wanted a dagger held by a hand with a moth in front if it. It is only afterwards that I looked up the significance and it matched perfectly — ‘life is no bed of roses,’ a hand holding a dagger that has its point in my wrist speaks control and has the most in your face meaning in that spot. It’s funny to me how people see this as a beautiful design where my self-harming scars are seen as weird and scary. The moth hiding the dagger speaks of change and transformation with a darker twist. It could fly away anytime.” — Liraco T.

tattoo on wrist

3. “My favorite part of the movie would have to be between ‘Dory’ and ‘Marlin.’ ‘Hey, Mr. Grumpy Gills… When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming.’ It’s a reminder that when I’m down to just keep swimming through it. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to hold on a little longer to find it.” — Brittany L.

tattoo of "just keep swimming"

4. “Another mental health related tattoo on my arms from the song ‘missing you’ by All Time Low. I met them a few years ago and they told me to never give up.
These are lyrics from the song that mean a lot to me, so that I won’t lose my fight.” — Abby A.

tattoo on arm

5. “When I was younger, my nana taught me that orchids take a lot of effort to grow and get to the point where they are pretty enough for society, but she also taught me that it only takes one slip up to have to start all over again. I decided that this was a perfect metaphor for my mental health, because it takes constant work to get to a point where I feel that my mental health is at an good point, but one slip up will mean I have to start all the work again, and that’s OK.” — Monica H.

orchid tattoo on arm

6. “This is inspired by a twenty one pilots song. In the song it states: ‘No one else is dealing with your demons. Meaning maybe defeating them could be the beginning of your meaning, friend.’ The song is called ‘Kitchen Sink.’ It’s a reminder that my feelings are valid and nobody else can tell me otherwise.” — Falina B.

sink tattoo on wrist

7. “Got my semicolon with my mom after I got released from the hospital a year ago. Just recently I got my brave tattoo in my mom’s handwriting. My happy face is the smiley face my mom would write on my napkins in my lunchbox at school when I was younger.” — Amy H.

tattoo of brave with semi colon and smiley face

8. “My Taylor Swift tattoo of lyrics from her song ‘Long Live.’ I started listening to Taylor around the same time symptoms of my mental illness started appearing 12 years ago and her music has helped me so much since I’ve started experiencing it all. I’ve gone through so much with Taylor, including suicidal thoughts a few times, and this quote is a reminder of everything she’s helped me through and that I need to keep going.” — Kira M.

taylor swift lyric tattoo

9. “Never thought one little tattoo can mean so much to me. I got a semicolon tattooed on my index finger to not only stand as a personal reminder, but also a conversation piece… Our world would be a much more beautiful place if we all loved each other more. We’re so much more similar than you may think. I believe in you. I am thankful to be alive, and I am so thankful you are alive. You are not alone. You are loved by every particle in this entire universe.” — Kara S.

semicolon tattoo on inside of finger

10. “This is a tattoo of my sisters’ heartbeat and a semicolon. It reminds me to keep going, and that I’ll always have someone to lean on. She has the same tattoo but with my heartbeat” — Brandy F.

heartbeat tattoo with the word love and semicolon

11. “It’s one that reminds me of the best holiday of my life and keeps me determined to get back there with my family.” — Paul B.

key tattoo

12. “I got this tattoo after I left an abusive relationship. It is my reminder that I got through a difficult part of my life and I can do it again.” — Lindsay J.

tattoo of heart with pins in it on wrist

13. “My grandma’s memorial tattoo. She expected me to live a good life. Can’t let her down. She would probably kick my ass if I went too soon. It reminds me of all the good memories I had with her and that I need to make good memories with my children and my children’s children.” — Sasha C.

memorial tattoo on wrist

14. “I got this done yesterday as I’m having a tough time with my mental health. It’s here to remind me that I can escape, even just to the park or to the shore — and that there’s a whole universe out there, and that I’m not stuck forever. (This was taken immediately after so it’s pretty red.)” — Abby A.

space tattoo

15. “The Greek word ‘tetelstai’ which means ‘it is finished.’ It’s a biblical reference from the New Testament when Jesus was hanging on the cross… His grace is amazing!” — Mary D.

tattoo of greek word

16. “I am always in the labyrinth. We will all end up in the center (whatever that means to you) eventually, despite the fact that the path appears to be convoluted. When times are tough I just have to keep stepping and a bend will eventually redirect me ever more closer to my own center.” — Sammy J.

maze tattoo on woman's shoulder

17. “I got this one because I had a lot of ups and downs in my life so far. It reminds me that there is only one option when I’m feeling suicidal or down at all, and that is to swim or else I will sink. It’s my favorite tattoo that I have.” — Nathan D.

sailor tattoo

18. “Mine says ‘Don’t let the Muggles get you down.’ I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. The story helps me get through days, so when I’m having a really bad day, ‘Don’t let the Muggles get you down’ reminds me to not let things or people get to me. That those things shouldn’t get me down.” — Karen P.

don't let the muggles get you down harry potter tattoo

19. “My Star Wars tattoo includes Carrie Fisher to remind me to keep fighting in those moments of weakness. Mental illness is a struggle, but as long as I keep going, I’ll make Carrie proud.” — Alaure F.

star wars Carrie Fischer tattoo

20. “I got this to remind me where I have been where I am and where I can still go and how my illness and thoughts don’t define me. The semicolon is in there, along with the butterfly and a grey ribbon. I wanted the eyes to show the emotion having borderline personality disorder (BPD) can have one sad and crying and happy. Since my thinking is black and white, the only color is in the eyes — my eyes. So every day I look down and see this on my arm as a reminder that just because I have BPD and suicidal thoughts, I am more than that and I can overcome it” — Trudy B.

tattoo of eyes on arm

21. “Keep moving forward. I could be having the worst day ever and then I think about my tattoo and how much it means to me and it helps get me through the worst days.” — Lindsey B.

keep moving forward tattoo

22. “I’m a high school theatre teacher. This reminds me that I’m doing the thing I love and that I’m a prominent figure in the lives of so many of my students. It reminds me that I can help make an impact on their lives.” — Heather C.

apple tattoo with musical theater stage

23. “My tattoo for my kids. They are my heart and soul and my reminder that their lives wouldn’t be better without me in it.” — Crystal L.

dream catcher tattoo on woman's back

24. “My tattoo is inspired by a teacher I had in high school that realized I was going through a very tough time so she played me the song ‘ThisTtoo Shall Pass’ by OK Go. That song and that moment having someone recognize my struggles was so important to me that this became my first tattoo of many.” — Andrea D.

this too shall pass tattoo

25. “To remind me of all the books I’ve read where the hero/underdog found the courage to push through adversity. And my semicolon to remind me to find the strength to see the true ending of my own story. To live for my best friend who lost his battle with depression. To put a symbol of hope in the very spot that was used for pain! To remember to keep turning the pages .” — Brittany H.

book and semicolon tattoo

26. “My tattoo is of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ with a quote from the book: ‘How do you run from what’s in your head?’ It reminds me of my emotional state as a teenager and things I’m still going through, but like Alice, I found my way out and can now choose to go back and deal with things.” — Lisa P.

alice in wonderland tattoo

27. “Sometimes I have to give in to my mental health issues and sometimes I have to fight them. Both are important parts of my mental health battle.” — Glenda W.

wolf and princess tattoo

28. “I designed this one myself to remind myself I’m a delicate butterfly with holes in her wings, but I’m strong and built mechanical wings onto myself to help me glide through the storms of life. Also the flames represent me coming out of the ashes like a phoenix.” — Juniper H.

butterfly with holes in wings tattoo

29. “I recently got an olive branch done as a reminder to try to extend an olive branch of peace to everyone I meet, but also for myself. The placement was most important because it’s always extended for any handshake; but most importantly, as a reminder for myself in bad times. I’ve struggled with self-harm for more than half of my life at this point. There’s no going to grab a razor and attempting to cut without seeing it. Getting tattooed has always been really therapeutic for me. It’s a much safer version of self-mutilation. Because the area I chose to tattoo doesn’t always stay the best, it will need regular touch ups. If I feel the need to harm myself I can just go in to have it touched up and begin the healing process again. It’s the perfect reminder to be patient with myself, I’m growing.” — Kait R.

olive branch tattoo on hand

30. “My owl. There’s a quote that goes with it that says ‘Your struggle is not an indication of your failure.” To me, if an owl can fight for food, I can fight to live.” — Sara O.

owl tattoo on woman's chest

31. “I got this last year and it helps so much. It means no worries, and it helped me a lot during my childhood.” — Celena R.

hakuna matata tattoo

32. “I got this tattoo when my family moved out of the home I grew up in. It’s a symbol of the lake I used to go sit by when I felt depressed. Now I have it with me always.” — Courtney W.

33. “Mine is on my forearm and is an image from a spoken word poem called ‘To This Day,’ by Shane Koyzcan. The quote that goes with this is: ‘You built a cast around your broken heart and signed it yourself, you signed it, they were wrong!” This quote got me through some of my darkest times and seeing it every day reminds me of how far I have come and how hard I will work to not go back to that place.” — Shannon D.

poem tattoo

34. “Hamlet’s soliloquy ‘to be or not to be’ was always a speech I was fascinated by, and I loved the pun idea of putting ‘two bees’ in a tattoo. I haven’t dealt with suicidal thoughts in several years thanks to a lot of excellent therapy, but I got this tattoo two years ago to always remind myself ‘to be’ and to recognize my own strength in moving forward.” — Ashely C.

bee in sunflower tattoo

35. “This one is a phrase taken from my favorite game, Undertale. In the game, when you die in battle, a voice speaks to you and says something along the lines of ‘You can’t stop now, we need you. Stay determined,’ and puts you back into battle. It stuck with me. No matter how bad I feel, I’m needed, I can do this, and I have to keep going. It’s in my arm where I can see it at all times.” — Kayla C.

stay determined tattoo

36. “I designed this when my best friend passed away in the fifth grade. Every time I look at it, it reminds me that no matter how much crap you are put through, you always have a reason to keep going. Dennis always looked at his awful situations in life and decided to see his glass half full rather than empty. He is my rock, my motivation.” — Morgan M.

heart tattoo

37. “I got this after going through two really bad breakups. I have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is the chemical compound for serotonin, the ‘happy chemical.’ When I look at it, it reminds me that all I want in life is to be happy.” — Amanda C.

chemical compound for seratonin tattoo

38. “When I get discouraged, I rest my forehead in my left hand. Now, I can see ‘no small dreams’ to remind myself to dream big, even when it’s hard.” — Tricia L.

woman holding balloon tattoo

39. “My dogs paw print on my foot. When I’m feeling low and feeling like everyone would be better off without me, it’s a great reminder that I’m still needed. She gives me something to live for when I feel like I have nothing else. Its made to look like she stepped in mud and then stopped on my foot while we were walking together. She’s my best friend and I never feel alone when she’s with me.” — Sarah A.

dogs paw print tattoo

40. “I wanted this on my body since I was a teenager. This is the viking symbol for ‘where there is a will, there is a way.’ Although I can’t see it on the back of neck, I know it is there.” — Casey D.

viking symbol tattoo

41. “I needed something to remind me that everything is going to be OK. My safe place is in the mountains with pine trees. I come alive when I’m in areas like these. It reminds me to take a breathe and picture the wind flowing through the pine needles.” — Brook D.

mountains tattoo

42. “It symbolizes how I need to go through life, enjoying the little things, instead of getting swept away by my pessimistic thoughts” — Aidan F.

woman dancing in the rain tattoo

43. “This helps me remember I’m strong — a diamond that will never be broken that shines the lights of the rainbow on my good days. And when it’s broken down, turned into graphite, which reminds me to write.” — Alison T.

diamond tattoo

44.I got this after I was told I needed more surgery again, after just having had major surgery. It helps. Because despite the surgeries and the demons and the things life chucks my way; life is still so darn beautiful and always worth the fight.” — Jasmine O.

tattoo of quote

45. “When I’m struggling with anxiety and feeling overwhelmed, I would usually self-harm. I got this tattoo to remind me to take a step back a breathe. I use the shape of the triangle as guidelines to breathe so I breathe in on one line, hold for a line and exhale for a line. A triangle is also the strongest shape and reminds me I can be strong.” — Ayme O.

breathe triangle tattoo

46.I got my tattoo just after being released from the psych ward. The flowers represent emotional mind, the geometric shapes logical mind, and together they make wise mind. It reminds me to make better choices and reminds me I survived.” — Lisa  P. flower tattoo

47. “A quote (in my own handwriting) on my cutting arm. When I was in rehab, one of the nurses used to tell me this almost every day. It reminds me that even small things count toward a brighter tomorrow.” — Anne A.

handwritten quote tattoo

48. “Went through one of my most painful breakups and I almost killed myself. I got this tattoo to remind myself that no matter what I go through, I’ll stay unbroken and grow my wings to fly.” — David M.

infinity sign tattoo

49. “‘Bàs no Beatha’ (Death or Life); it’s Scots Gaelic from my mother’s coat of arms. It reminds me, as someone struggling with bipolar II, that I have a choice each day. It hasn’t failed me yet.” — Chris S.

gaelic tattoo

50. “It means ‘new beginnings.’ I’ve been through a lot in my life. I’ve been resilient dealing with an abusive marriage, divorce, raised two kids who are the reason I’m still here. Anxiety, depression, PTSD.” — Jennifer C.

feather tattoo

Originally published: June 5, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home