Coping after a suicide attempt
If you're struggling after a suicide attempt, we're here for you. You're not alone.
On this page:
- How you might feel after a suicide attempt
- What might happen after a suicide attempt
- Making a safety plan
- Tips for taking care of yourself
- How to talk about your suicide attempt
- Where to find support
- Organisations who can help
Content warning: this information might be upsetting or difficult to read. You may want to take your time reading it. Or this might not be the right time – you can come back when you're ready.
We don't include any information about specific methods of suicide.
Going through a suicide attempt and managing the days and weeks afterwards can be overwhelming. You might feel a range of different emotions, and these may change over time. However you're feeling, it's ok.
You might feel:
- Relieved – you might be relieved that you survived the attempt. Or you might be relieved that people around you are now aware of how you're feeling.
- Numb – you might feel nothing, or a sense of emptiness, after surviving a suicide attempt.
- Disappointed – for example, because you survived the attempt.
- Angry – you might feel angry at yourself for trying to take your life. Or angry that you're still alive. You might also feel angry about how other people have responded to finding out about your attempt.
- Ashamed – you might feel a sense of shame within yourself. This can be a very uncomfortable feeling.
- Guilty – this might be about making the attempt. Or about the impact your attempt has had on the people around you.
- Embarrassed – you may feel embarrassed about having attempted suicide, particularly when it comes to telling people about it.
- Alone – you might feel like people don't understand why you attempted suicide, or like you can't talk to them about it. Or it might be that no one knows you tried to take your life.
- Regretful – you might regret trying to take your life. Or you might feel regretful that you survived.
- Scared - if you felt like suicide was your only option, you may feel uncertain about your future.
- Confused – you might have a mixture of positive and negative emotions, which makes it difficult to describe exactly how you feel.
You may also feel difficult emotions if this isn't the first time you've attempted suicide. No matter how many times you've attempted suicide, you should still receive the support you need.
I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, numb, and broken.
Trauma from a suicide attempt
Attempting to end your life can be very frightening and distressing. You might describe it as traumatic, and you may experience some symptoms of trauma. This could be straight away, or some time after the attempt.
These might include:
- Reliving memories of the attempt – for example, experiencing flashbacks or nightmares
- Avoiding things that remind you of the attempt
- Feeling numb, spaced out, detached from your body or as though the world around you is unreal (this is called dissociation)
- Alertness or feeling on edge
- Experiencing difficult beliefs or feelings
See our pages on trauma to learn more, including ways to get support.
What happens after a suicide attempt will depend on your own circumstances. For example, you might go to hospital, or seek help for any physical injuries. This section has information on what might happen in these situations.
But not everyone does these things. You may have made a suicide attempt and not told anyone about it. This experience is a lot to carry on your own. Even if it's been a while since your attempt, you can still reach out for support. See our section on where to find support for options.
What might happen if I go to hospital?
If you go to hospital after attempting suicide, the type of treatment you get will depend on your situation. In most cases, there are a few things that should happen.
If you need treatment to save your life, this will be the priority. You might need to stay in hospital for tests and treatment if you have physical injuries. Or if there's any concern about your health.
While you're in hospital, you should be seen by a healthcare professional who can assess your mental health. Some A&E departments have a liaison psychiatry team, who can give specialist help for mental health. You can ask to see them.
The liaison psychiatry team or mental health team might:
- Make an initial assessment of your mental health needs (sometimes called a psychiatric evaluation)
- Help keep you safe in the short-term
- Prescribe medication
- Put you in contact with other services for ongoing support, such as your local crisis team (CRHT)
- Decide if you can go home, or if you need to be admitted to hospital
You may be kept in hospital overnight for observation. Depending on how you're doing, you might be kept in hospital for a longer period for mental health support. Or the hospital staff might decide that you're ready to go home.
What if I have physical injuries?
You might have physical injuries from your suicide attempt. If so, you might be dealing with physical recovery as well as how you feel.
You may have permanent injuries that you're now learning to cope with. Or you might experience pain and mobility issues. This can be isolating and may feel very difficult to cope with.
You can ask your GP about any support you might be able to get for your physical injuries. Talking therapy might help you to process what's happened and teach you some coping skills.
What happens when I leave hospital?
Leaving hospital after attempting suicide can be scary and overwhelming. It might be especially hard if you’re going back to the place where your attempt happened.
Hospital staff should discuss and plan follow-up care with you before you leave. They might work with you to make something called a care plan. This includes assessing any risks you might face. And planning who you should contact if you need support. Your GP will also be contacted to let them know.
You may receive follow-up care within 48 hours of leaving hospital. This is to assess your risk of self-harm or attempting suicide. And to see what other help and support you need. This will be given by a mental health team, your GP, or the hospital staff who carried out your follow-up care plan.
If you live alone or don't feel supported by the people you live with, you could consider staying with someone you trust for a while.
What if I don't have somewhere safe to go when I leave hospital?
There are a few reasons that you may not have somewhere safe to go after leaving hospital. This may be because you're homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless. Or if you’re trying to escape a difficult situation, such as domestic abuse.
If you're worried about this, talk to the hospital ward staff as soon as possible. After a suicide attempt, you’ll likely be asked about any safeguarding concerns. This includes domestic abuse.
What if I'm unhappy with how health professionals have treated me?
You might feel like you haven't been well supported while you were in hospital. Or that your experience in hospital was not what you might expect. This can be very tough, at during a time that's already difficult.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has guidelines for how healthcare professionals should care for you after harming yourself. This includes if you attempt suicide.
All healthcare professionals are encouraged to follow NICE guidelines. But your experience of care may be different.
Our information on seeking help for a mental health problem has some information about what to do if you're unhappy with how you've been treated. This includes information about how to make a complaint.
After I received medical treatment for the ‘physical’ problem, I was sent home with my parents, without any psychiatric assessment, support, medication, follow up or further checks.
You might still feel suicidal after surviving an attempt. The reasons for your attempt may not have changed. Or you might be struggling with how the attempt has affected your life – such as your relationships, physical health or work.
If you don't have one already, it might help to create a safety plan. This can help to keep you safe if you feel suicidal again. Your plan is personal to you, but it could include:
- How to recognise your warning signs. You could think about any changes in your thoughts, feelings or behaviour that you noticed before your previous attempt.
- Your coping strategies. You may have found certain things helpful for coping with difficult feelings in the past. Try thinking about how you can use these things to help yourself now.
- The names and contact details of people you trust. These are people you can ask for help if you’re feeling distressed.
- The names and contact details of professionals who can support you, such as your local crisis team.
- Details of helplines and listening services. These services can help you when you’re feeling distressed. Trained professionals can listen to how you feel and keep you company, for as long as you need.
- What you can do to make your environment safe. For example, removing things you could use to harm yourself.
- Details of a safe place you can go for support. This could be the home of a friend, family member, or someone else you trust.
If you can, try to make the plan when you're feeling a bit better. It helps if you can think clearly about what you'd find helpful when you're struggling. It might be useful to make the plan with someone you trust, such as a friend or therapist.
Developing a safety plan can take some time. It's ok if you feel overwhelmed by it or don't know what to write. It might help to complete it in a few stages.
It may also help to put your safety plan somewhere visible in your home. For example, on a fridge or noticeboard. If you live with other people, this helps them see your plan more easily.
If you're being seen by mental health services after a suicide attempt, they might develop a safety plan with you. You could also give them a copy of the plan to keep.
Having a safety plan where others can see it may help, because you’re kind of putting it out there saying, ‘This is how I may feel.'
The time after a suicide attempt can be overwhelming. It can be tough to think about how you'll manage, especially if you're still experiencing difficult feelings.
These are some tips that might help. But remember that not all these ideas will help everyone. And what you find helpful might change over time. So don't worry if any of them don't feel right for you.
Give yourself time
It's ok if you need time to recover after a suicide attempt.
You may still be coping with any feelings or circumstances that led to your attempt. And you might have difficult feelings about the attempt itself. You may also feel stressed about telling other people.
You might also feel like you need to take some time away from certain parts of life to recover. For example, taking a break from work or studying, if you can.
Continue with your treatment
If you were already receiving treatment for a mental health problem before your attempt, it's a good idea to continue with this.
You might want to talk to your doctor or therapist about whether your current treatment is working for you. Or discuss any changes that might help.
Ask for what you need
The people in your life may not always know what they can do to help. But there may be different kinds of emotional or practical help you need. You can tell them what you'd find most helpful.
If you're not sure, these are some ideas for how someone might be able to help you:
- Help you create a safety plan.
- Let you stay with them.
- Help with chores, such as cooking or cleaning.
- Contact services for you, or go to appointments with you.
- Help you manage your medication.
- Remind you to eat, drink and care for yourself.
- Check in about how you're doing, even if you don't feel up to responding.
- Sit with you and not saying anything at all.
You might not feel ready to accept help from others yet. But it may help to think about what support you might want in the future.
I found it useful to ask for people to remind me to eat and drink, to go to bed and do those self-care things. It was helpful because I was such a mess at the time. I didn't know what I was doing.
Make your environment safe
Remove anything in your environment that you might use to hurt yourself. You could ask someone to lock them away for you.
Reading or watching content that mentions suicide or self-harm can be upsetting. Especially if you’ve recently experienced a suicide attempt. If you don’t feel ready to see this kind of content, it’s ok to avoid it.
It can also help to look out for content warnings. And if you come across something that upsets you online, close the screen or quickly scroll past it. You may even want to turn off your computer or phone and take a break.
Take care of the basics
Try not to put pressure on yourself to do too much. Prioritise the most important things you need to do. Some of these things might feel difficult, but it helps if you can:
- Eat and drink regularly
- Take care of your basic hygiene
- Get some fresh air each day
- Try to get good quality sleep
You might find that having a routine can keep you focused and help your recovery. A routine could involve small things. For example, making sure you take your medication or brush your teeth at the same time every day.
There are apps and online tools that can give reminders for your routine. Or you could ask someone else to remind you.
If you're struggling with these things, it might help to think about how you'd look after someone you care about. For example, a friend who needs your help. Try to treat yourself in the same way.
Find something you enjoy doing
Finding an activity you enjoy can help distract you from difficult feelings. And it could add meaning to your life. It doesn't have to be something big or expensive. It could be an activity you do alone or with other people.
Think about any hobbies you've enjoyed in the past, or new ones you'd like to try. Creative activities like writing and painting can sometimes help us process painful experiences.
Spending time in nature or being around animals can also really help. Or you might find it helpful to watch a comforting TV programme, or read a book that you know well.
You might feel like talking about your suicide attempt after it's happened. Or you might not. Even if people have questions or worries, it's up to you what to share and how you share it. You don't have to share anything at all.
If you feel ready to talk, these tips can help you decide who to talk to and what to say.
Who you could talk to about your attempt
It can be difficult deciding who to tell about your attempt. You may worry about how someone will react or how it might affect them.
But if you feel like talking, it might help to talk to these people:
Friends and family
If you have friends and family in your life, talking to them about what's happened might feel tough.
But letting them know what's going on could help them support you. And you might find it helpful just to talk things through with someone close to you.
Peer support groups or online forums
It might help to talk about your experiences in a peer support community. This could be online or in person.
You might find other people who’ve had similar experiences. They may have advice that they can with you. Make sure to follow any guidelines about what details it’s ok to share, especially about your attempt itself.
See our pages on peer support for more information.
If you were treated in hospital after your attempt, they should tell your GP. But if you didn't seek help after your suicide attempt, you may want to tell your GP yourself.
If they know what’s happened, they'll be able to help you get the right support. Our page about talking to your GP has some tips for talking to your doctor about how you feel. This includes how to prepare for the conversation.
If you have an employer, you might feel unsure about telling them about your suicide attempt. You might feel worried about confidentiality or being treated unfairly. But if you feel comfortable telling them, they can support you better.
See our section on telling your employer to find out more.
Starting a conversation about your attempt
It can be hard to know how to start a conversation about attempting suicide. These tips may help:
- Plan what you want to say before having the conversation. You can give as much or as little detail as you want.
- You might worry about finding the right time to tell someone. It may help to let them know in advance that there's something important you need to talk about. This might be easier than trying to bring it up during another conversation.
- It might feel less intimidating to talk about how you feel more generally. This might help you start the conversation, before talking about your suicide attempt.
- You could write down what you want to say in advance. If you're finding it hard to talk, you could send them a letter instead.
- There may be some people who you want to know about your suicide attempt, but you might not want to tell them yourself. You could ask someone you trust to share this with them for you.
The person you're telling might not respond in the way that you expect. Even the people closest to you might be shocked or upset.
They might also not know what to say. Or the things they say might be stigmatising. So it might be hard to deal with other people's reactions.
Try to remember that their response might come from a lack of understanding. Or a deep level of concern for you. You don't need to defend yourself. And you can end any conversation that doesn't feel supportive.
If you're absent for under 7 days
If you're absent from work for under 7 days, it's likely that you won't need to tell your employer about your suicide attempt.
They might still ask why you were absent. But you may only need to give them a more general answer – for example, taking time off for your mental health.
If you're absent for 7 days or more
If you're off work for more than 7 days in a row, you'll need a fit note from a healthcare professional, including GP, hospital doctor or pharmacist. The NHS has more information about who can give you a fit note.
You'll need to present this to your employer. In most cases, you're entitled to statutory sick pay from your employer for the first 28 days that you're off sick.
What kind of support might they offer?
If you decide to tell your employer about what's happened, think about a person at work you can trust. This might be your line manager, or someone in your human resources (HR) department. They may be able to offer you different types of support.
For example, they could:
- Provide you with a phased return to work
- Help you develop a Wellness Action Plan (WAP) to support your wellbeing at work
- Put you in touch with your employer's Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), if they have one
- Make reasonable adjustments to help with any difficulties you experience at work
What if I experience discrimination?
It's up to you if you what you want to tell your employer. If you do, you may encounter stigma. And in some cases, you might experience discrimination.
Our pages on disability discrimination have more information on what you can do if this happens. Your mental health could mean you're protected by the law - whether or not you think of yourself as disabled.
Acas also has lots of advice and support options if you're struggling with an issue at work.
It might feel hard to know where to get help after attempting suicide. But seeking help can be the first step towards feeling better.
It's always ok to ask for help – even if you're not sure whether you're experiencing a mental health problem. This section explains some ways that you can find support.
Making an appointment with your GP can be a good first step towards getting support. They can refer you to other mental health services, and can prescribe medication.
If you received hospital treatment for your suicide attempt, you may already be in contact with mental health services. In this case, they will contact your GP.
See our information on talking to your GP for tips on telling your doctor about your mental health.
I eventually got the help I needed. I went to my GP and talked about how I was feeling. Then I started getting myself back into work. My manager was really supportive and that helped me a lot. Speaking about what I was going through really helped me.
Talking to someone after your suicide attempt could help you make sense of what’s happened. And it could help you process any emotions that you might be experiencing.
If you'd like to try talking therapy, you can ask your GP to refer you. Or if you're in England, you may be able to refer yourself. Visit the NHS’s tool to find local NHS therapy services to find out whether you may be eligible.
There are also options for private therapy, but these can be expensive.
See our page on how to find therapy for more information.
Counselling helped me recognise some of the things that helped me and some of the things that didn't. Counselling didn't cure me, but it gave me tools to have better control over my emotions. It made me able to breathe more easily and feel a little bit lighter.
Community mental health teams (CMHTs)
You might be referred to a community mental health team (CMHT) after your suicide attempt. CMHTs support people outside hospital with severe or long-lasting mental health problems.
The team may include several health and care professionals. For example, a community psychiatric nurse (CPN), a psychologist, an occupational therapist, a counsellor, a community support worker and a social worker.
You may be put in contact with a care coordinator. This is a member of the team who will keep in regular contact with you and help plan your care.
You may be referred to a crisis team after your suicide attempt. Crisis teams can help if you need urgent mental health support. For example, if you need to go to hospital for your mental health.
See our page about crisis teams for more information.
What if I already had mental health support?
If you were already getting mental health support when you attempted suicide, they may be the best people to speak to.
If you went to hospital after your attempt, these services may have been told what happened. And they might change your treatment plan to help prevent you attempting suicide in future.
App with help and resources for people who feel suicidal or are supporting someone else.
Online mental health community (formerly called Big White Wall). Free in some areas through your GP, employer or university.
This information was published in October 2023. We will revise it in 2026.
References and bibliography available on request.
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