"I Want to Die" -- Coping with Thoughts of Suicide
Understanding suicidal thinking is a first step to coping with thinking you want to die.
When thoughts of suicide and ways to kill yourself dominate your thinking, it can be nearly impossible to get through the desperation, hopelessness, isolation, and pain. When your head swirls with "help me from killing myself" to "should I kill myself" to "committing suicide is the only way out", finding reasons to live becomes a quagmire filled with false steps and no foundation. There are ways through the muck and back to solid ground.
Understanding is a first step.
If you are thinking of killing yourself and want ideas to stay alive during the more intense moments, see I am Suicidal! If someone you know is suicidal, find out how you can help. For immediate help, please call the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you are outside the U.S., please visit the Befrienders for hotline numbers for 60 different countries.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, you are not alone. Suicidal thinking isolates and destroys the people it infects. It twists every thought and experience into pain, isolation, destruction, hopelessness, and worthlessness. This thinking is not you. Suicidal thoughts are a dark, awful, terrifying storm in your brain. The storm isn't you.
Most people know thinking about suicide is often related to depression. Thoughts of suicide can also relate to a physical problem, anxiety, substance abuse, a number of mental health situations, and other factors. While causes of suicidal thinking aren't the focus of this page, please understand there can be a number of reasons for suicidal thoughts. Please consider seeing a doctor. A thorough physical exam can diagnose or rule out physical causes and possibly speed your way to recovery.
Understanding what is happening in your mind is one key to staying alive. You can make it through this and enjoy life again. By understanding some of the ways suicidal thinking hijacks your thought process, you increase your odds of finding coping strategies to help you manage the storm.
Tools to Help the Suicidal Mind
Read a full review of the best book for suicidal thinking here.
When I was suicidal, I went from competent, capable and balanced to self-loathing, needy, empty, and despairing so completely that I could just vaguely remember having ever been different. This is one important aspect of suicidal thinking.
When you are thinking about suicide, you cannot trust your memories to be accurate. Suicide twists your thinking so much that it is difficult or impossible to remember being happy, successful, calm, or at ease. Happy memories become clouded and every small painful thing that has ever happened to you crowds into the front seat of your mind fighting for attention.
This is a characteristic of what I call the Suicide Voice; it isn't the truth! You must tell yourself that all the thoughts of failure and worthlessness are the Suicide Voice over and over and over again. Despite all the apparent proof in your head that you are a horrible loser and life is not worth living, you must tell yourself repeatedly that those thoughts are distorted lies and only temporary.
Another pervasive quality about thoughts to commit suicide is the helplessness and hopelessness that takes over. Whereas you once were able to handle life and muddle through stressful times, now things like checking the mail, much less opening it create such overwhelming feelings of inadequacy that you start to believe you cannot do anything, that you will never be able to function again, and that you are a stupid, incompetent mass of molecules taking up space.
Again, this is a lie. This is just another characteristic of suicidal thinking, just like a cough is a characteristic of a cold. It is not true, and it is not forever. Today you may not be able to manage. That's okay. It is not an indication of your tomorrow. Even though you may not see it or believe it now, a day will come when opening your mail or buying groceries will not cause you to lie down, get angry, or cry.
Everyone does this sometimes, People who feel suicidal do it a lot!
The incessant conversation in your mind replays situations over and over again in an endless loop so you continually beat up on yourself and wish things from the past were different. This awful trait keeps you firmly stuck in the muck. It is quicksand and can lead to suicide attempts. By understanding that this is another symptom of suicide's pervasive grip, you can more easily stop it.
This circular thinking, also called, "rumination", can be stopped. The first step is learning to identify it.
Learn more about stopping rumination here.
The last aspect of suicide I want to cover in this article is the way thoughts about the future are affected. People who struggle with suicide often find that "future" becomes just a word. It loses all meaning. This does not mean there is no future or that you don't have one; it only means that suicide is preventing you from seeing it. It's like wearing dark sunglasses inside -- just because it looks dark doesn't mean it is.
If you are thinking about killing yourself, it is akin to wearing really dark sunglasses. There are ways to take the sunglasses off. It takes time, patience, support, and help.
Support and help can take a lot of different forms. Many people are helped by therapy and/or antidepressant medication. Others are helped by churches. Anonymous help can be found by calling a Suicide Hotline or the Samaritans or through peer support from someone who has been there. Getting help in whatever form is most comfortable to you is vital to getting through this. You don't have to do it alone, and there are options that are safe, affordable, and confidential.
For more information on Spirituality and Self Help, please visit my blog.
Understanding Suicidal Thinking
Have you struggled with thoughts of suicide? Has this information been helpful and/or do you have suggestions? Please share your thoughts. Your voice matters.