This article discusses suicide. If you feel like you’re going to act on suicidal thoughts, call 000 if you live in Australia. A number of crisis support services are also there for you – have a look at our urgent help page.
It can be scary and confronting to experience suicidal thoughts and urges. Many people will experience thoughts like this at some point in their lives. When you feel suicidal or start thinking about death, it's important to remember there are things you can do to keep yourself safe.
This can help if:
- you think about suicide sometimes
- you feel overwhelmed and don’t know what to do
- you want to find a way to manage your suicidal thoughts.
What to do if you're experiencing suicidal thoughts
If you sometimes think about ending your life or feel that you want to die, it may be because you can’t see any other solution to the difficulties you’re going through. Sometimes life can be really overwhelming and it can be incredibly difficult to know how to handle things.
If you’re beginning to feel that there’s no way out, it might help to know that many people who’ve thought about suicide found that those feelings went away, and they were glad they didn't go through with it.
Maybe you feel that there’s no one you can trust to help you, or that you just don’t fit in with the people around you. Sometimes it’s difficult to reach out to others for support, but contact with others can make a real difference.
If you think you need to talk to someone about how you’re feeling but there’s no one around that you trust, have a look at our urgent help page for some services that can offer support.
Understanding your suicidal thoughts
It’s important to remember that suicidal thoughts are only thoughts. Just because you’re thinking about suicide, it doesn’t mean you have to act on these thoughts.
It’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed and stressed if you’re going through a tough time, and sometimes it can feel like things will never get better. If you’re thinking of suicide because you can’t think of any other way out, know that there are a number of ways you can keep yourself safe and work through your feelings.
Immediate things you can do to manage suicidal thoughts
- Postpone any decision to end your life for 24 hours. Use this time to talk to someone you trust.
- Talk to someone who can help. Contact a crisis service so that they can help with your immediate situation, and help you to find other, longer-term support. You can also make an appointment to talk with your doctor or a mental health professional.
- Develop a safety plan. Anyone who has experienced suicidal thoughts in the past or who is going through a tough time can plan ahead for how they are going to manage suicidal thoughts if they come up. There are apps to help with how to make a safety plan, or you can speak to a mental health professional.
- Seek help early. Talk to someone about how you’re feeling; a family member, friend, local doctor or support service can be a good place to start. If it seems that people aren't listening, keep asking for help until someone does.
- Avoid being alone (especially at night). If you can, stay with a family member or friend, or have someone stay with you until the thoughts of suicide decrease. If someone you trust can't be there, chat to a service online or use one of the 24-hour crisis services. You don't have to go through this alone.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. Alcohol and many drugs can make you feel even worse. They won’t solve your problems and may even make you do things you wouldn’t normally do.
Things you can do after immediately managing your suicidal thoughts
- Write down how you’re feeling. Sometimes writing a journal, story, song lyrics or poem can help you to understand yourself better and find alternative solutions.
- Challenge your thoughts. Remind yourself that, just like other thoughts, suicidal thoughts come and go and thinking something doesn’t mean you have to act. Don’t accept thoughts for what they are; think of ways to challenge them. When someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts, they might really be feeling that no one cares, or that others would be better off without them. This is never true – what would you say if a friend said that to you?
- Remind yourself of reasons to live. Write down what is keeping you from acting on suicidal thoughts. Remind yourself that even though things might seem hopeless, there are things that are important to you and that you still want to do.
- Set yourself small goals. Try to set goals that will make you feel in control and help you move forward. Write them down and tick them off when you’ve achieved them.
What can I do now?
- Download the BeyondNow app and develop a safety plan.
- Want to chat with a peer worker who can listen to you and support you? Book a free, text-based session with ReachOut PeerChat. Please note that PeerChat cannot provide urgent support.
- Get personalised support for when you're feeling low with the ReachOut NextStep tool.
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