What is suicidal thoughts?

Suicidal Thoughts

Suicidal thoughts in a family member: Overview

People who consider suicide often feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless. They may think that suicide will solve their problems and end their pain. They may not really want to die, but they may feel that there's no other choice.

These thoughts and feelings may come from having a mental health problem, such as depression. These problems can be treated. With treatment, your family member can feel better.

Take any talk of suicide or wanting to die or disappear seriously, even if it's said in a joking manner. Don't be afraid to talk openly with your family member about their feelings. It may not be easy to talk about suicide, but it can help the person feel supported and connected. Support and connection can help protect people from suicide.

Suicide

Suicide is ending your own life on purpose. When a person tries to end their life but doesn't die, it’s called a suicide attempt. Any suicide attempt or talk of suicide should be taken seriously.

A person who has made a plan to harm themself or someone else needs immediate help. National or local suicide hotlines, local hospitals, or a trusted health professional can usually help.

What are the warning signs of suicide in adults?

Warning signs of suicide in adults include:

  • Talking or writing about wanting to die or to hurt or kill themselves or someone else.
  • Saying they feel hopeless, trapped, without purpose, in pain, or like they're a burden to others.
  • Looking for ways to harm themselves. For example, they may buy a gun or stockpile medicines.
  • Increasing their use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Withdrawing from family, friends, and activities.
  • Seeming angry, grumpy, anxious, or depressed.
  • Eating or sleeping less or more than usual.
  • Doing risky things, like driving too fast.
  • Giving away their belongings.

Where to get help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

If you or someone you know talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away. You can:

  • Call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
  • Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
  • Text HOME to 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line.

Consider saving these numbers in your phone.

Go to 988lifeline.org for more information or to chat online.

How can you care for yourself when you have suicidal thoughts?

Where to get help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

If you or someone you know talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away. You can:

  • Call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
  • Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
  • Text HOME to 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line.

Consider saving these numbers in your phone.

Go to 988lifeline.org for more information or to chat online.

Other things you can do

  • Talk to someone. Be open about your feelings. Reach out to a trusted family member or friend, your doctor, or a counselor.
  • Attend all counseling sessions recommended by your doctor.
  • Make a suicide safety plan. This is a set of steps you can take when you feel suicidal. It includes your warning signs, coping strategies, and people you can ask for support. It's best to work with a therapist to make your plan.
  • Ask someone to remove and store any guns, pills, or other means of suicide.
  • Avoid alcohol and drug use.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.

What kind of support can help when you have suicidal thoughts?

If you're thinking about suicide, it can help to talk to someone about your feelings. It may not be easy to reach out for help, but it's so important. We all need support from time to time, and there are people who want to help.

Consider talking with:

  • A trusted family member, friend, or spiritual advisor.
  • A health professional, such as your doctor or counselor.
  • Other mental health resources, such as a community mental health agency or employee assistance program.

Where to get help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

If you or someone you know talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away. You can:

  • Call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
  • Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
  • Text HOME to 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line.

Consider saving these numbers in your phone.

Go to 988lifeline.org for more information or to chat online.

What puts children and teens at risk for suicide?

Things that increase the chances of suicide in children and teens include:

  • A previous suicide attempt.
  • Depression or another mental health problem.
  • Knowing someone (such as a friend, a family member, a sports figure, or a musician) who recently attempted or died by suicide.
  • A disruptive or abusive family life.
  • A history of sexual abuse.
  • Having gone through a stressful experience, like a divorce in the family or the death of a parent.
  • Having a drug or alcohol problem.
  • Having access to a means of suicide, such as a gun or pills.
  • A family history of suicide.
  • Being LGBTQ+. Issues like bullying and discrimination can contribute to an increased risk.

How can you help someone who is suicidal?

Talk about the situation as openly as possible. Show understanding and compassion. Don't argue about or deny their feelings. Encourage them to get counseling. If they have a plan to harm themself or someone else, get help right away. Stay with them until help arrives.

Suicidal thoughts in a family member: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think your loved one may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Someone you know is about to attempt or is attempting suicide.
  • Your family member feels that they cannot stop from hurting themself or someone else.

Where to get help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

If you or someone you know talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away. You can:

  • Call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
  • Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
  • Text HOME to 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line.

Consider saving these numbers in your phone.

Go to 988lifeline.org for more information or to chat online.

Call the doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your family member has one or more warning signs of suicide. For example, call if the person:
    • Starts to give away their possessions.
    • Uses illegal drugs or drinks alcohol heavily.
    • Talks or writes about death. This may include writing suicide notes and talking about guns, knives, or pills.
    • Starts to spend a lot of time alone or spends more time alone than usual.
    • Acts very aggressively or suddenly appears calm.
  • Your family member hears voices.
  • Your family member seems more depressed than usual.

Watch closely for changes in your family member's health, and be sure to contact the doctor if you have any questions.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.