Suicidal feelings

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

Please note: this page offers practical tips on what you can do right now to help yourself cope with suicidal feelings. If you don't feel able to keep yourself safe right now, call 999 or go to A&E.

Alternatively, scroll to the top of this page and click the yellow 'I need urgent help' icon.

You might be feeling so upset, angry and in pain that you believe that these feelings will never end. But it's important to remember that they cannot and will not last. Like all feelings, these will pass.

There are steps you can take right now to stop yourself from acting on your suicidal thoughts. Everyone is different, so it's about finding what works best for you. Here are some practical tips that other people have found helpful when they've felt suicidal:

  • Get through the next 5 minutes. Taking things minute by minute can help make things more bearable. Reward yourself for each 5 minutes that pass. Go to our 'I need urgent help' pages for practical ideas on things you could try.
  • Remove anything you could use to harm yourself or ask someone else to remove these for you. If you're in an unsafe location, move away.
  • If you have a safety plan or crisis plan, follow it.
  • Tell someone how you're feeling. Whether it's a friend, family member or even a pet, telling someone else how you are feeling can help you to feel less alone and more in control.

"When it got really bad and the temptation to harm myself was really bad I would get my family to hide dangerous things away and go to bed."

  • If you're thinking of harming yourself, find self-harm coping techniques that work for you, such as:
    • holding an ice cube in your hand until it melts and focus on how cold it feels
    • tearing something up into hundreds of pieces
    • take a very cold shower or bath. See our tips for coping with self-harm.
  • Focus on your senses. Taking time to think about what you can smell, taste, touch, hear and see can help to ground your thoughts.
  • Steady your breathing. Take long deep breaths; breathing out for longer than you breathe in can help you to feel calmer.
  • Look after your needs. Avoid taking drugs or drinking alcohol as this can make you feel worse. If you can: get a glass of water, eat something if you're hungry, sit somewhere comfortable and write down how you're feeling.
  • Get outside. If you are feeling numb, feeling the rain, sun or wind against your skin can help you to feel more connected to your body.
  • Reach out. If you can't talk to someone you know, contact a telephone support service or use online peer support such as Elefriends.

"Sometimes it's just about survival and focusing on something that's real until the feelings can become easier to deal with."

  • Make a deal with yourself that you won't act today. Plan to get support if you're not getting support already (see our pages on support for suicidal feelings).
  • Find your reasons to live. You may feel like the world will be better off without you or there's no point in living, but this is never the case. You could:
    • write down what you're looking forward to, whether it's eating your favourite meal, seeing a loved one or catching up on the next episode of a TV show.
    • make plans to do something you enjoy tomorrow or in the near future. Plans don't have to be big or expensive.
    • think about the people you love. No matter how bad you're feeling, it's important to remember that these people would miss you.
  • Be kind to yourself. Talk to yourself as if you were talking to a good friend. Do whatever you think might help you to get past these thoughts. It could be something small like having a bath, wrapping yourself in a blanket and watching your favourite film. These ideas may seem silly but it can be easy to forget to do something nice for yourself.
  • Tell yourself you can get through this. At times, we can concentrate on the negatives we tell ourselves and lose hope. Repeating to yourself that you can get past these feelings can help you regain hope and focus on getting through it.

"Rather than focus on all the desperate negative thoughts about being a burden and of no use, bring your focus into trying to believe it will not last forever and working out how you can safely get through."

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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