Have you ever . . .
If you’ve had suicidal thoughts like these, you’re not alone. Many young people have them. In the great majority of cases, they don’t end in serious attempts to end a person’s life. However, suicide is the third-leading cause of death among people ages 15 to 24. So if you’re struggling with these thoughts and feelings, please read on for steps you can take now to keep safe.
People who have suicidal thoughts are often suffering from depression or a related psychological condition. Usually, they don’t really want to die. They just want the pain to stop, and depression is painful. People who are depressed feel hopeless and helpless, and have trouble seeing how things will get better. But most people who attempt suicide and survive are glad they didn’t die. They find positive things in their life that they just couldn’t see when they were feeling suicidal.
It’s important to know that you don’t have to endure this pain alone. Help is available. Depression is a very serious illness, but it can be treated with therapy, medication or both.
First of all, never keep suicidal thoughts to yourself. You need to talk about them, not only to feel better but also to protect yourself. Just as you would see a medical doctor if you broke your arm, you should seek professional treatment for depression or suicidal thoughts. You can talk about these things with the professional staff at your school’s counseling center, a religious or spiritual leader, a family member or perhaps a faculty advisor.
Or you can call a crisis line. Many counties have their own hotline. If you know it, call it or 9-1-1 and tell them you are in danger of suicide. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or National Suicide Lifeline Network at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). These calls are free and confidential. Meanwhile, if you have access to firearms, pills, sharp objects or other dangerous means to hurt or kill yourself, get them away from you or get yourself away from them.
There are other ways you can try to control your suicidal thoughts, like making different kinds of lists. Make lists of:
Contacts. Include all the people (and their phone numbers) who mean the most to you, the ones whom you can confide in and trust to help you. List people who make you smile or cheer you up just by talking to them. Keep this list close by. Make sure it has more than one person in case the first person you call isn’t available. When you’re feeling really down, this list will remind you that you are not alone. There are people you can turn to. The list will also make it easy for you to contact them.
Reasons to live. Do this when your mood is better because when you’re really down, it’s difficult to think of positive things. Think hard and write down any and all the people, places, events and experiences you want to be around for in the future. Where would you like to live? Visit? Will your favorite team make it to the playoffs? Write about small things you know you’ll enjoy, such as the new season of your favorite TV show, finishing the book you started, etc. Keep the list close and look at it when you’re feeling there’s nothing to look forward to.
Emergency numbers. Include those of people listed above, your college’s counseling center and local or national crisis hotline numbers.
Activities that make you feel better. What floats your boat? Do you like to play a certain computer or card game? Bake a chocolate cake? Knit? What’s your favorite song or group? What movie have you seen a hundred times but still makes you laugh? Write down anything and everything you can think of that can help you relieve some of your distress. When you’re feeling low, look at the list and do something that makes you feel better.