Semi-Suicidal: Don't Want to Die, But Can't Live Like This
Trigger warning: This post contains a frank discussion of suicide pertaining to feeling semi-suicidal.
September is Suicide Awareness Month, and in honor of that, I want to share my experience with feeling semi-suicidal. My hope is that other people who have occupied this awful in-between space will understand that what they're going through is very real, and someone else has been there too.
What Does It Mean to Be Semi-Suicidal?
Over the last six years, I've been semi-suicidal many times. Semi-suicidal is a state of being where you may experience suicidal thoughts or feelings, but don't necessarily want to die. This looks different for different people, but for me, it typically involves thinking something like, "I don't want to die, but I just can't keep living this way, being this person."
When I am semi-suicidal, I truly don't want to die. I don't want this life to be over, I just want it to be better, but in that moment, it doesn't feel like there's any way for that to happen. Because when I'm semi-suicidal, the problem isn't usually my life, it's me. I'm so inherently wrong in some way that living a good life sounds ridiculous and impossible. I become so ashamed of who I am that I can't imagine living the rest of my life this way, as this person I hate so very much.
How to Deal with Semi-Suicidal Feelings
So how can you keep yourself safe and maybe even feel a bit better when in this semi-suicidal headspace? I recommend these three things:
- Accept this is how you're feeling. I've spent a lot of time trying to deny my feelings and I think this is a very common experience when it comes to semi-suicidal feelings specifically. After all, you don't actually want to die, so you're probably fine, right? Wrong. Do not try to ignore these feelings. It's so important that you accept that you're feeling this way so you can take steps to start to feel better.
- Tell someone. This is hard because half the time I don't even know what I'm feeling, so I don't really know how to explain it to someone else, plus I don't want to cause them undue stress ("Explaining Depression To A Friend"). But I try to remember that these feelings are big and difficult and it's important for me to reach out to someone to help me deal with them safely.
- Send the semi-suicidal feelings to the corner for an hour. This is a strategy I learned in therapy several years ago, and it's a bit tricky because the other two steps have to come first. If not, then you're just avoiding and denying the emotions and that definitely won't help. Once you've acknowledged your feelings and let someone else know how you're feeling, you can treat these semi-suicidal thoughts like a cranky toddler and send them to the corner for an hour with a coloring book and a juice box. You aren't abandoning them or avoiding them, you're just refusing to let them take over your entire house. In an hour, check in on them again. Have they gotten stronger, or are they starting to subside? Monitor the feelings and go to the emergency room if they continue to escalate.
Have you ever felt semi-suicidal? It's more common than you might think, so please feel free to share your story in the comments.
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.
Griffith, M. (2019, September 24). Semi-Suicidal: Don't Want to Die, But Can't Live Like This, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, September 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2019/9/semi-suicidal-dont-want-to-die-but-cant-live-like-this