How to Calmly Deal With Suicidal Thoughts
Trigger warning: This post contains a frank discussion of suicide and suicidal thoughts.
It can be quite scary and disturbing to experience suicidal thoughts. These kinds of thoughts may also overwhelm you and make you feel worried about acting on them. However, you can calmly deal with suicidal thoughts.
Often, suicidal thoughts arise as part of a mental health condition, such as major depression. They may be related to feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, but they can also arise if you have been suffering (physically or mentally) for a long time, especially if this has been debilitating for you. For many people, suicidal thoughts come from a deep desire to no longer be in pain and not being able to see a way out of that pain. Experiences of suicidal thoughts can be highly personal, however.
While dealing with suicidal thoughts may be frightening and make you wonder whether you’ve become a danger to yourself, you can deal with these thoughts in a calm manner and protect your mental wellbeing in the process.
4 Ways to Deal with Suicidal Thoughts
1. Take a Mindful Approach to Dealing with Suicidal Thoughts
Suicidal thoughts become more difficult to deal with when you build on them in some way. For example, suicidal thoughts can morph into more intense or unpleasant thoughts if you approach them with an attitude of resistance, denial, fear, and guilt. Taking a mindful approach to suicidal thoughts involves allowing them to arise and pass without judgment, simply noticing them in the process. There is no reason to panic about having suicidal thoughts. While mindfulness can help you take away the seriousness you attach to suicidal thoughts, this doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t seek out help if they are a persistent feature in your life.
2. Maintain Self-Compassion When Dealing with Suicidal Thoughts
It’s worth reiterating that suicidal thoughts can arise out of a wish to no longer be in pain – they don’t have to result out of a genuine desire to not exist. It’s a common experience for many people to have suicidal thoughts when they are feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, and in crisis. While it is understandable to have suicidal thoughts in the midst of emotional hardship, self-compassion can also help you through those difficult times and it can allow you to view your suicidal thoughts in a more understanding way. Try to recognize your suffering, that your suicidal thoughts come from a place of pain, and that you don’t want to be in pain. This will help you to see suicidal thoughts as a cry for relief and help, rather than as a serious solution.
3. Don't Deal with Suicidal Thoughts Alone
Suicidal thoughts can also be based on unrealistic beliefs about oneself. This can often happen when you experience a severe episode of depression, for example, and you are burdened by intensely negative thoughts about yourself. You might believe you’re a burden to others, a failure, worthless, useless, and unlovable. The very fact that you are depressed and struggling to function as normal may also make you think you’re fundamentally broken in some way.
By dealing with suicidal thoughts (and the beliefs that underlie them) and by voicing them to others, you can get a more realistic perspective on things. It may be hard to reveal such thoughts to loved ones, but doing so can prove to be highly illuminating and beneficial. In response to your thoughts, loved ones can stress how they believe the complete opposite and think of you as lovable, capable, and valuable to them for so many reasons. While you may be primed to doubt or reject such affirmations, if there’s a chance that some of it will combat your suicidal thoughts, then this is a conversation worth having. You can also remind yourself of these comments from others if suicidal thoughts arise again. This can help them to dissipate.
4. Know that Suicidal Thoughts Don’t Have to Lead to Actions
Suicidal thoughts can range from abstract thoughts about ending your life to imagining actual methods of suicide. It’s important to know, however, that suicidal thoughts don’t have to lead to suicidal plans or actions. Having suicidal thoughts or feelings doesn’t necessarily mean you’re at a high risk of taking your life. Treat your suicidal thoughts simply as thoughts. They don’t have to be authoritative, controlling, or connected to any dangerous behavior. When you start to fear and worry about suicidal thoughts, they can become overwhelming, but they don’t have to be. Of course, suicidal thoughts can sometimes lead to actual intent and planning, so if you do feel a danger of this happening – or it’s happened – it’s vital that you seek immediate help and support. Even just one conversation can make a world of difference.
If you feel that you may hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately.
For more information on suicide, see our suicide information, resources and support section. For additional mental health help, please see our mental health hotline numbers and referral information section.
Woolfe, S. (2019, September 11). How to Calmly Deal With Suicidal Thoughts, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, November 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2019/9/how-to-calmly-deal-with-suicidal-thoughts