How to deal with suicidal thoughts

There are many reasons why you might want to read this. But I can see only two worth addressing.

1. You want to end your life. 
2. You know someone who plays with the idea of ending their life. 

I was in both situations. Below is what helped me and what helped them.

Remember, while this advice comes from personal experience, it's always best to consult health professionals when dealing with suicidal thoughts. 

International list of Suicide Hotlines

If you don't want to call a helpline, I hope that my experience will help you. Thank you for reading, and take care. 

Thinking about suicide?

You want to end your life.

Maybe not right at this moment.
But you thought about it.
Perhaps several times.

I was in this situation.
Several years ago I wanted to end my life and I nearly did.


The first time I was stopped.
The second time I stopped myself.


Here’s what I learned.

The Road Through the Darkness

It might be dark where you are now, 
but the sunrise is coming, 
even if you cannot see it yet.

It will get brighter. 
Maybe not today. 
Maybe not this year. 

But it will get better. 
It always does.
When you talk...

My battle with suicide

For me, it came in waves.

I could be going through my regular stuff, doing different things the whole day and then suddenly the despair would jump out of nowhere and attack my mind. Within a few seconds, I would be deep in the planning of my death.

Why did I think about killing myself?

The simple answer? Sorry, it doesn’t exist.

There are no simple answers when dealing with suicide. Nor are there simple questions.

Suicide is not our default thinking. There were many things in play which led to me thinking that I would be better off dead. Looking back, most of them were false assumptions in my mind. But I didn’t know that —not yet.

Partly my suicidal thoughts came from the fact that I went through a series of hard setbacks in a very short time. To say “It was painful” is an understatement. I was shattered. I don’t know, how many times have I laid curled in the bed, howling and sobbing.

Mind you, I had no physical pain. So if physical pain drives your thoughts, my experience might not precisely address your issue. Then again, maybe it will.

Because suicidal thoughts are the mind’s way of coping with the pain of living —wherever that pain comes from.

Suicidal thoughts are the mind’s way of coping with the pain of living.

What you focus on is what you see

The dangerous, addictive thing is that thinking about suicide brought relief.

I didn’t feel the pain. And I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t scared either. I was focused. Suicide was a problem I needed to solve. And the focus on the “problem” took my mind away from the pain.

After a while, my mind turned to suicide planning by default to escape the pain. This created a vicious cycle.

A random thought about being dead does nothing to your mind especially if you outright dismiss it. It’s the repetition which makes it seem more compelling. Your focus on death will eliminate your ability to see all the evidence pointing against it because of the way how our brain works.

When you put your hand in front of your eyes, it doesn’t matter how big the hill in the background is. You will not see it. That’s the first thing to keep in mind.

What you see is not the whole picture.

Your mind is playing deadly games with you. Your mind can be your best ally or your worst enemy. If you know what is happening, you can deal with it. If you don’t know it, you might end up dead.

(If you are now asking “Why? Why should I deal with it? Does it even matter if I am alive or dead?” please read on. I will address this at the end of the section.)

Keeping it a secret

My obsession with suicide has grown over time, but I never spoke about it with anyone. And that was a big problem. I have been stuck in the loop of self-reinforcing thoughts. Because I kept my thoughts secret, there was no one to tell me:

“You don’t see the whole picture. You see only darkness because your blinds are down.”

Later on, I learned that those who talk about their suicidal thoughts will rarely jump to action. Why is that? Why do people who discuss suicide with others, in the end, reject it? Were they just persuaded by others? Or is there something else at play?

I will address that, but first, let me illustrate why is it so difficult to speak about suicidal ideation.

Why it was hard to talk

In my case, I see three contradicting reasons.

One was the desire to look good. I did not want others to look at me and think: “He’s crazy”. It was enough that sometimes I questioned my own sanity. I did not want others to do it as well.

The second was connected with it. I feared that if someone knew about my suicidal thoughts, they would lock me away. I had two reasons why I did not want that to happen.

  1. They will keep me under watch and I wouldn’t be able to do it.
  2. I will lose my job if they put me in an asylum.

You see, I planned to kill myself and I still didn’t want to lose my job. How’s that for absurdity?

The third one was the craziest. I didn’t want to tell those closest to me because I didn’t want them to feel bad. I knew it would hurt them to even talk about my death, yet I was planning to hurt them more by actually killing myself. Speak about faulty logic.

Then I did it.

I am not going to describe what I did and why it failed. The important thing here is that after my failed attempt at suicide, I confided in a few people.

What happened when I talked

I was surprised.

None of the people I spoke with betrayed my trust. They didn’t pressure me to go to the psychiatrist. They listened. They didn’t agree with my actions and they did let me know how it affected them. But it was without blame and shame. And all three were concerned about me. It was the first time since I started thinking about suicide that I talked about my thoughts.

The fact that they weren’t confined to my mind anymore had an immense impact.

You see, our mind in intense situations conflates experience and existence. What I was going through was horrible and I wanted it to end. I wanted it to die. But it was so close in front of my mind, that it obstructed my whole field of view. My mind interpreted the desire to escape my situation as a wish to kill myself.

To expand on the image, picture yourself in a beautiful spot by the lake.

There are hills in the distance. But someone put a hand in front of your eyes. No matter how big they are you cannot see the beauty of the lake and hills. All you can see is the hand in front of your eyes. To escape, you don’t need to change the whole situation. You don’t even need to remove the hand.

All you need is a shift in perspective.

And it doesn’t need to be a big shift either. Just a step an inch to the side and while you still can see the hand, now you are also able to see the lake and hills. They still might be a bit obscured but they are there. The view is different. That’s what happened when I spoke with others.

My perspective shifted.

I was still in the same situation, but I saw things I couldn’t see before. Suddenly I realised that I don’t want to end my whole existence. I just wanted to kill that painful part of my life —that experience I was going through. Not myself.

And when I realised that, I could focus on solving the situation.

Shifting the viewpoint

The shift came in stages, but the first one was the realisation that I am not my mind.

I told you that your mind could be either your best ally or your worst enemy. For that to understand, you first need to understand that you are not your mind. That’s why you say, “my mind” or “my body”. You are not your body. It’s your body, but it’s not you. You are not your mind. It’s your mind, but it’s not you.

We, humans, are three-dimensional beings.

You’re more than just a physical form or a collection of thoughts. Your body can hinder your life or it can serve your life. Your mind can hinder your life or it can serve your life. But neither your body nor your mind is your life. You are a spiritual being who lives in the body and has thoughts.

When you have suicidal thoughts, your mind is poisoned.

It does not act in the best interest of you. It acts in the best interest of itself. The mind is always looking for ways how to escape pain or how to bring pleasure. In this case, your mind is focused on escaping the current pain of your life. Escaping the situation you are in. That’s why it will think about ending your life to escape the pain.

But there are other ways.

The man in the mirror

In my first newsletter How a mirror saved my co-worker’s life I shared the story of my co-worker who was on the brink of a suicide attempt. It was a year after my suicide attempt, at the time when I already decided that I will live and I will live life on my terms. He phoned me, telling me that he will not make it, that he will kill himself. I told him to go and stand in front of a mirror and look at his reflection. He did that.

I told him that what he sees in the mirror is not him.

In the mirror is just his image, a snapshot of the moment. The same is for you. What you see in the mirror of your mind is just a current reflection of your situation, not who you are.

Your mind sees this partial image and interprets it as your whole identity; it doesn’t grasp the full picture or appreciate who you really are beyond the present situation. Your mind only illustrates how you appear to be at that moment and blocks out everything else. It doesn’t show the true you. And the reason is simple.

Your mind is fixated solely on escaping the current predicament —even if it means ending your life.

That’s what I told my coworker. In that mirror is the guy who wants to kill you. That guy is looking only at the situation you are in, not at your whole life. And that guy wants to kill you to escape the pain. You have only two options:

Either succumb to that guy and let him kill you, or stand and fight.

He decided to stand and fight. Today he has a beautiful family —a gorgeous wife and a son. You can read our whole interaction and what he did in the How a mirror saved my co-worker’s life newsletter where I explained what the Mirror Technique is and how it works. You can use this technique too, it’s easy and all you need is a mirror.

How to talk about suicidal thoughts

Why might you not want to talk with people about it? On the other hand, why might you want to share your thoughts with others? How can you prepare for such conversations, and who should you talk to? These are all important questions.

Talk or not to talk?

So, let’s start with why you might not want to talk with others about suicide.

I completely understand that you may want to keep your thoughts secret – I’ve been there too.

You might fear losing your job if your employer finds out or hurting your loved ones by making them worry about you.
You may also be concerned about being reported to a psychiatrist and possibly being locked in a psychiatric ward, robbing you of control over your own life.
Additionally, you might berate yourself for having these thoughts and not want others to join in on the chorus of negativity.

They are all valid reasons. At least for me, they were.

So, is there a reason why should you consider talking to someone?

Knowing what I know now, I believe so.

Sometimes you don’t see

Above I mentioned the hand blocking your view. Your suicidal thoughts are the result of having the view blocked. It’s an extreme solution to a short-term problem.

It is like using an atomic bomb to kill a terrorist with a homemade bomb. You will surely kill the terrorist but the blast will affect a lot of other people. Suicide is like that. An overkill (pun intended).

Whatever you are facing is preventing you from seeing anything else. By talking with others, they can help shift your perspective just enough for you to see there is more to life than what you’re going through. This small shift can make a big difference.

Another reason to speak with someone is the realization that there are people who genuinely care about you, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the moment. Sometimes, you’ll discover that those you least expect actually do care deeply for you.

But there might be a much more important reason to talk.

There might be a much deeper problem

Talking with someone can not only help shift your perspective and show you that people care.

It could potentially reveal an underlying mental health issue that needs professional attention.

For me, it helped to uncover an underlying health issue which hindered my whole life and ultimately brought me to the situation when I wanted to end my life.

I discovered I have bipolar disorder after speaking with a psychologist and psychiatrist. Learning about this helped me understand my strengths and weaknesses. During my whole life, bipolar made my life much easier in some aspects. It is like having a superpower. But every superpower is marred with a weakness. Not knowing what I have led me to disaster. Discovering what I have allowed me to live a balanced life.

Five years later, my life is totally different.

So, you may not want to talk about suicide because of fear, shame, or potential consequences. However, in my experience, talking about it has far more benefits than keeping it secret.

How to prepare for discussions

To talk about your suicidal thoughts, it’s good to prepare a bit.

Especially in Western countries, people are now leading life sheltered from such a basic thing as death. Most people wouldn’t know how to react. So let’s go over a few things to consider before you will talk to someone.

  • First, I will address reactions you might encounter. When you are ready for them, it is easier to deal with them.
  • Next, I will address how to decide where and when you will start the conversation.
  • Then I will share some tips on how to start the conversation.
  • And lastly, I’ll talk about whom you should or should not talk to.

What reactions you might encounter

Let’s consider how people might react when you mention your suicidal thoughts. There are three main reactions:

  1. Dismissing and harsh: Some people may be appalled or not know how to help. They could have their own pain and struggle to deal with the added pressure. This might lead them to say harsh things like “Man up” or “Don’t be a coward”. If someone reacts this way, remember they might not know what they’re doing. Be prepared for this reaction, and let them know it’s okay.

    ~ Remember, people act from love or lack of love. Those who dismiss your pain might be in pain themselves.
  2. Changing the subject: Others may not say anything harsh but will try to change the subject immediately. They might not know how to react and want to avoid discussing your feelings. If this happens, let it be and move on to another topic.
  3. Wanting to help: The third group will genuinely want to help and talk with you about your situation. They might not know what to say or do but will show concern and willingness to listen. Be patient with these individuals – they are the ones you need.

When and where to talk about your feelings

  • Choose a private, neutral location where no one can overhear your conversation. This could be at the home of the other person (not yours in case you want to leave), in a quiet park, or over the phone (making sure you’re not on speaker).
  • Don’t bring up the topic at the beginning of a meeting. If the person responds negatively or changes the subject, you might want to end the conversation and leave. Also, make sure that neither of you is in a hurry. You need time for a proper conversation, especially if the person wants to talk.
  • Be aware of your conversation partner’s emotional state. This is often easier said than done. However, in my case, I was in a much more stable emotional state when I discussed it than my counterpart. If they seem overwhelmed with their own problems, it might not be the best time to start the discussion. Trust yourself, and be prepared for different reactions.

Remember, it’s essential to find the right people to talk with about your feelings.

How should you start the conversation?

First, remember that you don’t need to plan the entire conversation. Focus on how you’ll start it. Here’s some advice:

You don’t need to plan the entire conversation. Just think about how to start it. After that, it will depend on who you are and who you’re speaking with. So, how do you begin?

When starting the conversation, prepare the person for the seriousness of the topic. Give them the option to step back if they’re not comfortable discussing it. Remember, some people might be afraid of talking about death and suicide.

Say something like: “Look, what I will say now is pretty serious. If you don’t want to talk about that, that’s okay. Just let me know and I will never mention it again. Shall I go on?”

If they are willing to talk, now is the time to say it.

  • Good ways to express your thoughts: “I’m thinking about killing myself,” “I am on the verge of suicide,” or “I just cannot deal with life anymore.” These simply state your feelings and experiences.
  • Lousy way to express your thoughts: “If this happens or if he/she does this, I will kill myself.” This makes you seem manipulative and not genuine in your struggle. It comes across as a brat child screaming on the supermarket floor because parents refused to buy a toy.
  • The difference? In the first example, you express your thoughts as a reaction to your situation. In the second, you are trying to manipulate others.

After this sentence, pause. Wait for the reaction.

If they are from the first two groups, just bag it up and change the subject or leave. If they are from the third group, they might not know what to say. They may even say: “I don’t know what to say.”

The best response, in my opinion, is to say: “That’s OK, I wouldn’t know either.”

But that reaction is most probably a sign that they want to help you. Let them know that you are not looking for professional advice. You just want someone to talk to; someone who will listen. And tell them. What are your experiences, when these thoughts occur, and what makes them worse? As I said before, how the talk will go depends on you and the person you are speaking to.

Who should you talk to?

Now, let’s talk about who you can speak to when you’re struggling:

  • Ideally, someone who shares their own problems with you and is trustworthy.
  • If you have a partner, they should be your best friend. If you don’t feel that way, maybe you should talk to a professional. (I know, I am repeating myself, but it saved my life.)
  • Family members. However, having these conversations in a place where you can leave if needed is essential, so avoid discussing this at your own home where you are trapped.
  • Friends can be great listeners, but choose someone you trust.
  • Avoid gossipers or those who spread secrets about others.
  • While it’s better to speak with someone you know, sometimes a deep conversation with a stranger can be helpful too.
  • However, always consider discussing these feelings with a health professional. As I said, for me it was a game changer.
  • If needed, consider calling a helpline for support. International list of Suicide Hotlines.
  • Professionals like psychologists and psychiatrists are there to help.
  • Consider speaking to a priest, especially Catholic priests during confession.

They are bound by silence and cannot disclose what you tell them, even under the threat of criminal prosecution. Suicide is considered a sin in the Catholic Church. When you confess these thoughts, it’s a confession and the priest is bound by silence.

Places of worship in general are a place to go when you are in the life and death situation. Remember, though, not everyone who shadows the frame of temple doors lives by its code. Be cautious of whom you talk to, particularly gossipers.

I learned that in the UK doctors cannot inform your employer or authorities about your mental health unless you are in imminent danger. They need your consent to do so. So, even if your employer contacts them, they won’t reveal any information without your permission.

I spoke with my GP, who then referred me to a psychologist. After that, I was referred to a psychiatrist because my problems were more than just feeling suicidal, as I mentioned I have bipolar disorder.

How to prepare for discussions: Summary

  • Expect different reactions. They might range from harsh or avoidance to willing. Some people will not know how to react.
  • Select a quiet, private, and neutral place, which you can leave if the need arises.
  • Do not start your meeting by blurting it out. On the other hand, leave enough time for discussion. This is not something to discuss when you bump into a friend running late to work.
  • Prepare the person for a serious topic: Say something like, “What I’m about to discuss is quite serious. If you’re not comfortable talking about it, that’s okay.”
  • Mention that you have thoughts about suicide or that you can’t deal with life anymore. This is an honest way of expressing your feelings.
  • Avoid using manipulative language: Don’t say things like, “If this happens, I’ll kill myself.” This comes across as blackmail and won’t be taken seriously.
  • Understand the difference: Reacting to a situation by having suicidal thoughts is different from using suicide as a threat to make others behave in a certain way.
  • Give them the option to step back: Some people might not be ready to talk about such matters, so let them know they can choose not to engage.
  • If possible, talk to a professional. They can really help.
  • Choose trustworthy friends and family members.
  • However, sometimes, strangers can offer meaningful conversations too.
  • Talk with someone who shares their own problems and secrets with you.
  • Avoid gossipers or those who tend to share others’ secrets and personal information. Always be cautious of gossipers in any setting.
  • Consider confiding in priests during confession.

Why did I write this?

Because I care.

I was in this position. But my life changed completely.

When I was stopped during my first attempt, it wasn’t by a human. A few days later, I realised that I was stopped because my mission on this earth was not yet finished. There are things I am meant to do.

When I was on the verge of suicide the second time, I was able to see beyond the pain, into the future. My viewpoint had shifted and I stopped myself. The very next day I arranged to see my doctor.

Since then I focused on finding a way to live an authentic life. What I discovered is summed up in the Tree of Life Quest Framework. My life changed because I found who I am and the purpose of my life. And from that, I found what is My Mission. Now I am helping people to transform their lives.

If you are thinking about suicide, my bet is that you don’t know what is your purpose and you have no mission. If you would allow me, I would love to help you with that.

I created a guide: How To Change Your Life. Give it a read.

What do you have to lose?

If you are in a dark spot right now

Please, talk to someone.

It doesn’t matter to whom. Talking to someone about your suicidal thoughts is the most beneficial thing you can do.
International list of Suicide Hotlines.

I understand that you might not want to talk to a professional. You might have many (and some very valid) reasons to avoid that —including the desire for secrecy.

But do not suffer in silence.

If you cannot think of anyone to speak to, go to a Catholic priest. Tell them that you need confession. They are bound by the Seal of Confession —an absolute duty not to disclose what they heard during confession.

If you have nothing left to live for…
I know how it feels. I felt the emptiness. The calling of the void.
I don’t know what your circumstances are. I don’t know how you got there. But I don’t have to. Because I have been there. In the place where I had nothing to lose.

If I wouldn’t be stopped, I would be dead now.

And I can tell you: Don’t give up on your life.
Whatever your circumstances, killing yourself is not a solution.
It’s an escape route.

There are usually at least two other routes of escape. You just can’t see them, because you are blinded by what happened.

Talking with someone who is NOT affected by the situation WILL help.

The Road Throught the Darkness

It might be dark where you are now, 
but the sunrise is coming, 
even if you cannot see it yet.

It will get brighter. 
Maybe not today. 
Maybe not this year. 

But it will get better. 
It always does.
When you talk...


If you have questions, please contact me.

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