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Suicidal thoughts

It is common to have suicidal thoughts, and this is nothing to be ashamed of. You are not alone. Having suicidal thoughts does not mean that you actually want to take your life, but is usually because you want to change your situation and end your suffering. There are always other options, even if you do not see them just when you feel the worst.

If you have suicidal thoughts, do not keep this to yourself. You need to talk with someone you trust. There might be someone you know or someone at a support line. You may also need to seek care to feel better.

Suicidal thoughts and hopelessness

If you feel that you have lost power over your life and lost all hope, suicide may feel like a way out. You may think that by taking your life, you take back power over your life. Suicide may seem to be a solution to your problems. But taking your life does not mean a solution — to the contrary, it eliminates your chances of changing things.

You can see other ways and options by talking with other people. You may need help to go on, from someone who can listen and help you view the situation in different ways. There may be many people around you who want to help, without you having discovered this yet.

What is like to have suicidal thoughts?

When you think about taking your life, it’s common for you to think that nothing can get better, that you’ve burned all your bridges, that it’s all over. Even if this is not actually true, you may feel sure that it is. Thinking about taking your life may feel like a relief at the moment, like getting a little break from your problems. At the same time these thoughts may feel forbidden and shameful and they may increase your anxiety.

This is because these are thoughts that challenge the norms that our society stands on. We are supposed to take care of ourselves and be successful and positive. Wanting to end one’s life is a taboo subject. The social norm may feel very difficult to live up to when you feel bad. Having suicidal thoughts can cause you to withdraw from other people and feel very lonely.

How do I get rid of suicidal thoughts?

If you have suicidal thoughts, do not keep this to yourself. Talk to somebody. You may feel alone and alienated in your situation, but in fact there are many people who have thought and felt as you do. Putting your thoughts into words with someone who will listen can help you find new ways to look at your problems and discover new possibilities for solving them. When you’re alone with your suicidal thoughts, they can grow and become stronger. Expressing your thoughts in writing and speech challenges these thoughts and you can receive compassionate support.

The world is full of people who have had suicidal thoughts earlier in life, but have got rid of them, and who even have difficulty later understanding how they thought when they felt the worst. In addition to considering which person or people around you you might want to talk to, you can call a support line.

When should I seek help?

If you are having serious suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to seek professional help. You can contact a health centre or psychiatric clinic. If it feels difficult to contact them on your own, you can ask someone to come with you. It’s a good idea to do this as soon as possible. Help is available, and you have the right to receive help. If you have serious suicidal thoughts or concrete plans to take your life, seek care immediately.

Reviewed by: Marie Åsberg, Professor of Psychiatry at Karolinska Institutet. Last modified 2017-06-14