Suicidal feelings

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

How can I cope in the future?

If you have experienced suicidal feelings in the past, or are still feeling low now, you may be worried that these feelings might return or get worse.

But there are steps you can take to look after and improve your general wellbeing when you're feeling low, as well as prepare for if you were to feel suicidal again:

A safety plan is a personalised plan to support you step-by-step at times when you may be thinking about suicide.

Your safety plan might include:

  • recognising your warning signs
  • details of your own coping strategies – what has helped in the past and what you can do to help yourself now
  • the names and contact details of loved ones or telephone support services who can help in a crisis
  • the names and contact details of professionals or agencies you can contact during crisis
  • steps on making your environment safe and details of a safe place you can go to if you need

Try to make a plan when you are well or able to think clearly about what you find helpful. You might want to complete the plan with a trusted friend or therapist and give them a copy to keep.

"I tried to plan for feeling really bad, knowing that I could become incapable of controlling my feelings for a while. It hurts to not trust yourself but it does pass and I am so glad to be here still."

You can find safety plan templates online, like this one from the Students Against Depression website and this leaflet from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Is a safety plan the same as a crisis plan?

A safety plan focuses on what you can do now to keep yourself safe.

A crisis plan or joint crisis plan (agreed jointly between you and any mental health professionals involved in your care) also focuses on what has helped to keep you safe in the past, but is more detailed. It also covers what treatment you would like to receive if necessary, and whether you've made an advance statement or decision

You can read more about crisis plans here

  • Take each day at a time. There might be good days and bad days. Try to focus on each day at a time and set yourself small, achievable goals.
  • Develop coping strategies that work for you. Self-help resources, such as Mood Juice, can help you to work through difficult feelings and learn coping skills.
  • Allow yourself to feel your feelings. Supressing your feelings when they happen can cause them to build up over time and make them even harder to cope with. Think about what caused you to feel suicidal and share this with those supporting you.
  • Make a happy box. Fill a box with memories and items that can provide comfort and help lift your mood when you feel down. The box can contain anything that is meaningful and helpful to you, for example: a favourite book, positive quotes, photos, letters, poems, notes to yourself, a cuddly toy, a perfume or smell important to you.
  • Learn your triggers. Keeping a diary can help you to find patterns in your mood over time and help you to think about what might be causing you to feel suicidal. You can track your feelings by using an online mood diary (there are many freely available).
  • Don't blame yourself. Many people who have tried or thought about taking their life feel guilty afterwards, especially if they have worried loved ones. Try to accept that was just how you were feeling at the time, and focus your energy now on looking after yourself.
  • Write a letter to yourself. Include happy memories and mention the people who love and care about you. This can be helpful to read when you are experiencing suicidal feelings to remind yourself that things can get better.
  • Make plans to look forward to. It doesn't have to be something big like a holiday but scheduling time with loved ones, booking tickets to a music or art event or joining a club can help you to feel more positive about the future.
  • Build your self-esteem. See our pages on increasing your self-esteem.
  • Celebrate yourself. Write down your achievements and the things you like about yourself, however small. If someone compliments you, make a note of it.
  • Do things just for yourself. Whether it's spending half an hour reading a book, doing a hobby or taking up a new one, try to regularly make time to do the things you enjoy.
  • Seek support. If you're not already receiving support or don't feel the support you have is helpful, take a look at our page on support for suicidal feelings.
  • Let others know how you're feeling. Tell people what you find helpful and let them know when you are finding things difficult. It's okay to ask others to be with you if you need them.

"Being suicidal is nothing short of a nightmare so it is essential that you tell someone."

  • Volunteer. Giving your time to help others can be rewarding. It can build confidence and help remind you that you are appreciated and needed by others.
  • Try peer support. It can be helpful to talk with others who have experienced suicidal feelings. Contact your local Mind to find what peer services are available locally. You can also access peer support online, on websites like Elefriends.

"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."

Read Steven's blog about asking for help when he was feeling suicidal.

  • Get enough sleep. Learn to relax before bed, making sure your bedroom is a calm place clear of distractions. If you are having trouble sleeping, see our pages on coping with sleep problems.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol. Stopping or reducing your use of drugs and/or alcohol will help you feel more in control of your thoughts, and make it easier to rationalise your feelings. See our pages on street drugs.
  • Eat well. Eating regular healthy meals can make a big difference to your overall sense of wellbeing. See our information on food and mood

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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