Suicidal feelings

Explains what suicidal feelings are, including possible causes and how you can learn to cope.

Getting help in an emergency

If you don't feel you can keep yourself safe right now, seek immediate help.

  • go to any hospital A&E department (sometimes known as the emergency department)
  • call 999 and ask for an ambulance if you can't get to A&E
  • ask someone else to contact 999 for you or take you to A&E immediately

If you need some support right now, but don't want to go to A&E, here are some other options for you to try:

Worried about someone else? See our pages on supporting someone else with suicidal feelings.

What are suicidal feelings?

Suicide is the act of intentionally taking your own life.

Suicidal feelings can range from being preoccupied by abstract thoughts about ending your life, or feeling that people would be better off without you, to 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.

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?

Everyone's experience of suicidal feelings is unique to them. You might feel unable to cope with the enduring 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 fluctuate from moment to moment. And it's common to not understand why you feel this way.

Here are some thoughts, feelings and experiences you may go through if you are feeling suicidal:

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, unwanted or unneeded 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

What you may experience

  • poor sleep with early waking
  • change in appetite, weight gain or loss
  • no desire to take care of yourself, for example neglecting your physical appearance
  • wanting to avoid others
  • 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."

How long will I feel suicidal?

Suicidal feelings can be overwhelming. How long these feelings last differs for everyone.

It is common to feel as if you'll never be happy or hopeful again.

But with support and self-help, 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.

However, 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 this is the case, 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.

"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."

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

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.

This information was published in June 2016. We will revise it in 2019.

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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