How To Let People Know We’re Having Suicidal Thoughts

If we’re feeling suicidal then telling someone can help. Unfortunately, talking about how we feel isn’t always very easy. Finding the words can be hard, particularly when we need to talk about something as difficult as suicide. We might also experience a lot of anxiety and fear around telling someone how we feel.

How To Let People Know We're Having Suicidal Thoughts

Who Do We Tell?

One of the first problems we face when we decide to talk to someone about how we feel is working out who to speak to. We could reach out to a friend, family member, colleague, manager, teacher, faith leader, youth worker, doctor, our local emergency department or our local mental health team for some help and support. There will be someone who cares, despite the lies our brain tells us. If the person we tell is unable to help us or we feel as though they don’t understand, then we could try talking to someone else. There’s no rule anywhere that states that we’re only ‘allowed’ to talk to a certain number of people about our feelings.

How Do We Tell Them About Suicidal Thoughts?

Finding the words we need can be really difficult sometimes. It’s not easy to tell someone that we’re feeling suicidal. If talking to someone feels too difficult, there are loads of other ways we can communicate with them including writing it down, drawing it, sending a text, speaking over the phone, writing an email, or telling them without using the word ‘suicidal’, for example ‘I can’t cope with being alive any more’.

Have A Code

If we know someone well, then at a time when we’re feeling better, we could write a crisis plan which could involve setting up a code with them – a way to let them know that we’re suicidal without having to find any words at all.

This could be something like texting a particular emoji that we don’t normally use, such as one of the hearts in a different colour. We could have a certain word that we use if ‘suicide’ is a difficult word for us, such as describing ourselves as a particular colour – our partner might know that if we say ‘I feel turquoise’, then it means ‘I feel suicidal’ and we don’t have to go digging around for words that we struggle to say. We might have an arrangement with someone where we just message them a single codeword, phrase, or GIF. It might be that a particular item we hold, a place we go, or an action we take signifies that we’re feeling especially low.

Prepare

When we’ve decided who we want to speak to, it’s often helpful to plan in advance what it is that we want to say so that we’re not flustered. Our head can feel like it’s in a right old muddle when suicidal feelings bubble up and it can be difficult to extract words from that muddle and form understandable sentences.

Writing it down, or thinking it through in our head, before we speak to someone can help to lower our anxiety levels. It can help us to say everything that we want to say without forgetting anything.

It’s also helpful to decide when and where we want to speak to the person. Sometimes it can be easier to talk whilst doing something else. That way we don’t have to look at one another and it an feel less intense. For example, we could chat whilst on a walk or while cooking tea.

Some of us might feel as though we want someone to come with us to a doctor or therapy appointment. There’s no shame at all in asking for a bit of back-up when facing difficult conversations.

Prepare For Their Response

We can control what we say and when we say it, but we can’t control how the person we speak to will respond.

The person we speak to might be shocked, upset, or even angry about what we’ve told them. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have told them anything, it just means that it’s a lot for them to take in and to process.

Sometimes the person we talk to will have to tell someone what we’ve told them. If we’ve spoken to a professional then they often have a duty to report anything we tell them that could indicate a risk to our lives or the life of someone else. Even if we’ve spoken to a friend or family member, they may still feel the need to speak to someone else, such as our GP. This doesn’t mean that we’ve done anything wrong or that we’re in any trouble – these policies are in place to help us to get the support that we need.

Use A Helpline

Some of us find that it’s especially difficult to talk to people who we know well or see on a regular basis. We might find it easier to talk a helpline about our suicidal feelings. If we struggle with talking on the phone then some helplines allow us to text them, email them, or even pop into one of their sites.

Be Proud And Keep Talking

Talking about suicidal thoughts and feelings can be incredibly difficult. It’s not easy to open up to others about the difficult things that we’re experiencing. We should be really proud of ourselves for talking about our suicidal thoughts.

It’s important that we don’t just tell people about our suicidal thoughts once and then stop talking. We need to try and keep talking to those around us, to keep speaking to them about what’s going on for us, and to keep letting them help us. Keeping up with our self-care, being kind to ourselves, and trying to stay as safe as possible, can all help us to get through these difficult times and to get to a better place where our thoughts are less overwhelming. Suicidal thoughts and feelings are horrible to experience, but eventually, they do pass.

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