Managing suicidal thoughts

Suicide is the act of intentionally taking your own life. Suicidal feelings can range from being preoccupied by abstract thoughts about dying, wishing you were dead, wanting to disappear, 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’re not alone. Many people think about suicide at some point in their life.

Thoughts of dying, wishing you were dead or wanting to disappear are common at times of distress following stressful life events.

You might feel

  • Hopeless, like there is no point in living
  • Tearful and overwhelmed by negative thoughts
  • Unbearable pain
  • 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

You might also 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

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

There are steps you can take 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 young people have found helpful when they've felt suicidal:

  • Remove yourself from danger
  • Distract yourself, imagine things are going well
  • Challenge your thinking
  • Talk to someone you trust
  • Contact a helpline, for example, Childline
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol as they make it hard to think clearly and make good decisions

If your thoughts are infrequent, less distressing and don’t interfere with daily life, then you should:

  • Notify someone you trust
  • Get in touch with support services in your area, which you can find through the the ‘Local Offer’.

If your thoughts are frequent, more distressing and affecting normal functions such as your sleep, mood or daily activities, you should:

  • Refer yourself to us for support and advice if you’re over 16
  • Ask your parent, carer or healthcare professional to refer you if you are under 16
  • Talk regularly to someone you trust.

If you think you’re going to act on your suicidal thoughts, go to Accident & Emergency immediately or ask someone to take you there.

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