for better mental health

Suicidal feelings

Explains what suicidal feelings are, and what you can do if you feel suicidal. Also covers the causes, treatments and support options for suicidal feelings.

If you feel unable to keep yourself safe, it's a mental health emergency.

Get emergency advice

What are suicidal feelings?

Suicide is the act of intentionally taking your own life.

Suicidal feelings can mean having abstract thoughts about ending your life or feeling that people would be better off without you. Or it can mean thinking about methods of suicide or making clear plans to take your own life.

If you are feeling suicidal, you might be scared or confused by these feelings. You may find the feelings overwhelming. 

But you are not alone. Many people think about suicide at some point in their lifetime.

"I couldn't see past the pain. It was a different reality for me. I only knew I wanted the pain to stop, the anguish to go away."

What does it feel like to be suicidal?

Different people have different experiences of suicidal feelings. You might feel unable to cope with the difficult feelings you are experiencing. You may feel less like you want to die and more like you cannot go on living the life you have.

These feelings may build over time or might change from moment to moment. And it's common to not understand why you feel this way.

How you might think or feel

  • hopeless, like there is no point in living
  • tearful and overwhelmed by negative thoughts
  • unbearable pain that you can't imagine ending
  • useless, not wanted or not needed by others
  • desperate, as if you have no other choice
  • like everyone would be better off without you
  • cut off from your body or physically numb
  • fascinated by death. 

What you may experience

  • poor sleep, including waking up earlier than you want to
  • a change in appetite, weight gain or loss
  • no desire to take care of yourself, for example neglecting your physical appearance
  • wanting to avoid others
  • making a will or giving away possessions
  • struggling to communicate
  • self-loathing and low self-esteem
  • urges to self-harm.

"Suicidal thoughts aren't permanent  things do improve. You can find your motivation to live again."

What's it like to have suicidal feelings?

Graham, Miram, Alicia and Lee talk about what it feels like to want to take your own life, and ways they have learned to cope.

How long will I feel suicidal?

How long suicidal feelings last is different for everyone. It is common to feel as if you'll never be happy or hopeful again.

But with treatment and support, including self-care, the majority of people who have felt suicidal go on to live fulfilling lives.

The earlier you let someone know how you're feeling, the quicker you'll be able to get support to overcome these feelings. But it can feel difficult to open up to people.

You may want others to understand what you're going through, but you might feel:

  • unable to tell someone
  • unsure of who to tell
  • concerned that they won't understand
  • fearful of being judged
  • worried you'll upset them.

If you feel like this, you might find it helpful to show our pages on supporting someone else with suicidal feelings to someone you trust. This can be a good way of starting the conversation and can give them suggestions of how they can help you.

It's important to remember that you deserve support, you are not alone and there is support out there.

"Sharing that I felt suicidal with close friends, although scary as I worried they'd be angry, has helped me in subsequent black times. They said they'd hate to lose me having not been given the chance to help."

This information was published in April 2020. We will revise it in 2023.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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