Using Suicidal Ideation as a Depression Coping Mechanism

September 18, 2019 Mahevash Shaikh

Trigger warning: This post contains a frank discussion of suicide and suicide attempts as it pertains to suicidal ideation as a depression coping mechanism.

Depression brings about a lot of changes in a person's mind and body, such as feelings of apathy and hopelessness, and headaches and body pain. These changes are typically overwhelming and most of us need to rely on some coping mechanisms to be able to simply function on a day to day basis. Unfortunately, not all coping mechanisms are healthy and can harm the individual, even causing death if left unchecked. Suicidal ideation is one such negative coping mechanism that is best avoided by a depressive.

Why Suicidal Ideation for Depression Is Dangerous

Suicidal Ideation for Depression Coping Is Addictive

As the term implies, suicidal ideation means thinking about taking your own life. There are two types of suicidal ideation: passive and active. Passive suicidal ideation is when you wish you were dead, but you don't take any action to make that happen. Active suicidal ideation is when you wish you were dead, and you make a plan to die by suicide. Generally, and in my case as well, I had passive suicidal ideation, which then morphed into active suicidal ideation. This transition is what makes suicidal ideation so dangerous, and why us depressives should avoid it even though suicidal ideation is not a choice and occurs naturally. 

Suicidal Ideation for Depression Coping Is Insidious

Shortly after I was diagnosed with clinical depression last year, my mind was naturally drawn to passive suicidal ideation. Whenever I had a particularly bad day or was in a situation I'd rather not be, I would wish that I were dead. Often, I would even picture my own funeral. Either way, I would feel calmer; and soon, passive suicidal ideation became my go-to coping mechanism for episodes of depression.

However, over time, the thought of not existing wasn't enough to make me feel better. And then when I first experienced a very bad episode of depression, my mind immediately took me to the then alien zone of active suicidal ideation. I went from passively wishing I were not alive to actively planning ways to die. It was overwhelming and made me feel completely out of control. At one point, I almost succumbed to it. If it weren't for my younger sister stopping me from harming myself, I might not be here today to share my experience. That's when I realized that using suicidal ideation as a coping mechanism was a terrible idea. It always escalates, so it's best avoided completely.

How to Avoid Suicidal Ideation as a Depression Coping Mechanism

A few days later, my therapist and I figured out a healthy coping mechanism for depression. Now whenever I feel lost and hopeless, I cope with it by taking deep breaths and read my little book of positive mental health affirmations. More often than not, the combination of deep breathing and mental health affirmations helps keep my depression and suicidal ideation in check. On the rare occasion that this doesn't work, I confide in my friends, family, or therapist.

Once others know you are in a bad place and are thinking of taking your own life, you'll be surprised to know how supportive some people can be. Just give them and your life a fighting chance and stay away from suicidal ideation. For all you know, if you ignore suicidal ideation long enough, it may stop visiting you forever.

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

APA Reference
Shaikh, M. (2019, September 18). Using Suicidal Ideation as a Depression Coping Mechanism, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Mahevash Shaikh

Mahevash Shaikh is a millennial blogger, author, and poet who writes about mental health, culture, and society. She lives to question convention and redefine normal. You can find her at her blog and on Instagram and Facebook.

August, 30 2023 at 12:30 pm

Taking deep breaths, oh yeah, like that'll work. All I have to do is deep breaths and then suddenly covid will disappear, the wildfires in Canada will stop, and Vlad Pootin will drop dead, whoopee!! Face it, the world is ending, humans are idiots and we're all doomed.

June, 28 2022 at 7:14 am

I want too.. but I'm better off dead but I don't want to make my fam sad.

April, 25 2022 at 8:22 am

I have been using suicidal ideation as a coping mechanism for a long time. It has gotten so bad that now I do it every day, several times a day. I wish I had recognised earlier how damaging this was and had gotten help sooner.

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