If you’re having thoughts about ending your life, no matter how fleeting they might be, it’s extremely important that you seek support. This guide will help you to do that.
This guide outlines how suicidal thoughts can make you feel and what to do if you have them. If you're in any immediate danger, please reach out and talk to a trusted adult or organisation.
If you’re in any immediate danger…
If you have already taken steps to end your life or if your thoughts of suicide are particularly intense right now, you need emergency help. Visit your local hospital or call the emergency telephone number for your country, which you can find here.
What are suicidal thoughts?
Suicide means to end your life intentionally. Thoughts of suicide can range in intensity and differ from person to person. They might be very fleeting, appearing only now and again and seemingly out of nowhere. They can also be quite abstract, such as wishing you could disappear or escape when life feels particularly hard. Sometimes, these thoughts might develop into feelings of hopelessness and planning or taking steps to end your life.
Whatever your reasons are for having suicidal thoughts, they are significant and valid. Anyone who is thinking about ending their life, no matter why, how intensely or how frequently, should not suffer in silence.
What to do if you’re having suicidal thoughts
Your first step should be to talk to someone, ideally someone that you trust and who you feel would understand you. This might be:
- your parents or partner
- your doctor
- a teacher or university tutor
- a youth worker or counsellor
- your friends or other family members
- support services and helplines
It can take a lot of courage to talk about suicide. You might feel ashamed or embarrassed, beyond help, worried about upsetting your listener, or not know how to bring it up.
- Know that even thinking about talking to someone is a positive first step in the right direction.
- Know that suicide is not your only option, and nobody is beyond help. If you speak to someone, there is every chance that things will start to get better for you. Even though your pain might seem overwhelming and permanent at the moment, there are ways to deal with suicidal thoughts and overcome the pain.
- Know that you are not alone, and that these thoughts are nothing to feel ashamed of. According to the mental health charity Mind, around one in five of us experiences thoughts of suicide at some point during our lifetime. It’s a big issue, and there are a range of services dedicated to helping people who are suffering in this way (we link to them at the end of this guide).
- If the thought of opening up to someone feels overwhelming, it might help if you take some time to figure out how you’re feeling. These things can sometimes be difficult to put into words, but writing it out first could help with that. You might even find it easier to communicate with someone purely through writing, such as by text or email (some support services offer text and email support - we link to them below).
- Even if you’re worried about upsetting your listener, it’s important to not play down the severity of your thoughts and feelings. Let your listener know that you are really struggling, and that you’re worried you might do harm to yourself.
What help is available?
Once you’ve spoken with someone, especially if it’s a teacher, counsellor or helpline, they might explore your options with you and help you to find support. The help available to you will depend on where you live, but could include:
- talking therapies such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy
- community mental health support
- crisis services and sanctuaries
Support services and helplines
If you’re ready to speak to someone right now and you would like that person to be a trained professional, a support service or helpline could be the answer. We've listed a number of UK-based support services and helplines here, but if you're not from the UK, The Samaritans - a charity offering support to anyone in crisis - have a number of offices around the world. It's also worth speaking with a teacher or counsellor to see if they can direct you to any other local support services.
Childline is a private and confidential service for anyone under 19 in the UK. Their trained counsellors will talk to you about any issue you’re going through, big or small. Calling Childline is free and doesn’t show up on the phone bill. You can also speak with a counsellor through their one-on-one chat service, which you can access through their website.
Call: 0800 1111
Self Injury Support
Self Injury Support provides phone, email, text and webchat support to any women of any age or background affected by self-injury, whether their own or that of a friend or family member. The service is provided by female volunteers who have received specialist training.
Call: 0808 800 8088
Text: 07537 432 444
Grassroots' StayAlive App
The StayAlive app can connect you to support services, and includes a safety plan you can turn to in times of crisis. It also has customisable reasons to stay alive and a LifeBox where you can store important photos and videos.
Download it here: https://www.stayalive.app
Good stuff from elsewhere
Papyrus provide confidential support and advice to people under the age of 35 who are struggling with thoughts of suicide, and anyone worried about a young person, through their helpline HOPELINEUK. Call: 0800 068 4141. Text: 07860 039 967. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US)
Suicide prevention helpline and guidance for US teens. Call 1-800-273-8255.
The Mix (UK)
The Mix offers essential support for under 25. You can get one-to-one focused support with a member of their trained team through phone, text or email. The Mix also offers a counselling service, group chat service and discussion boards, which you can find on their website. Call: 0808 808 4994. Crisis messenger (if you’re experiencing any painful emotion or are in crisis): text THEMIX to 85258.