What Are Suicidal Thoughts and Do I Need Help for Them?

Sometimes we experience so much pain, loss, or numbness that we start to feel hopeless—like there is no way out of how we’re feeling. When we feel hopeless or overwhelmed, we may start to have thoughts of suicide. With the right treatment and support, you can overcome feeling suicidal.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, it is important to get professional mental health support. 

There are people ready to help you at any time of day. 

  • Text HOME to 741-741 for a free, confidential conversation with a trained counselor any time of day. 
  • If you feel unsafe right now, text or call 988 or use the chat function at 988lifeline.org.
  • If this is a medical emergency or there is immediate danger of harm, call 911 and explain that you need support for a mental health crisis.

What Suicidal Thoughts Feel Like

Suicidal thoughts can range from passing thoughts about death, such as wondering what it feels like to die or thinking, “What if I just went to sleep and didn’t wake up?” to specific plans about suicide, such as thinking about how and when you might end your life. Passing thoughts of suicide can get worse if they are not addressed. If you are struggling with any of these feelings or behaviors, it is time to reach out for support:

  • Feeling disconnected from others or withdrawing from friends and family.
  • Feeling trapped in an intolerable situation.
  • Feeling like a burden to others or telling others they would be better off without you.
  • Thinking, talking, or posting online about death or violence.

Learn more warning signs of suicide.

How Do I Know If I Need Help for Suicidal Thoughts?

If you are having suicidal thoughts, it is important that you have regular mental health support through a therapist or school or campus counselor. It’s also important to know when you need to get immediate help. 

If you are already having suicidal thoughts, big life changes or tragic events—such as a death in the family, ending a relationship, or getting laid off from a job—can cause those feelings to become more intense or more frequent. If you feel like your suicidal thoughts are getting worse, here are some warning signs to look out for:

Dangerous behaviors:

  • Driving recklessly, such as driving under the influence or without a seat belt.
  • Increasing drug or alcohol use.
  • Engaging in unsafe sex.
  • Starting or increasing self-injury.
  • Changes in diet, either restricting your eating or binge eating.
  • Changes in sleep patterns, either sleeping too much or too little.

Big changes in mood:

  • Experiencing mood swings of extreme sadness, rage, or anxiety.
  • Feeling increased irritability or agitation.
  • A sudden shift in behavior from agitated or angry to calm or even cheerful. It may seem like an improvement, but it can be a warning signal for a suicide attempt because it can indicate being “at peace” with ending life. If you start to feel this way, seek help immediately.

If you experience a loss, a sudden life change, or any of these changes in your mood or behavior, reach out for help right away. If you notice these behaviors in a friend or loved one, check in with them, tell them what you’ve noticed, and ask if they need help.

Find out how to help someone who may be suicidal.

If you are feeling suicidal, remember that suicidal feelings can be overcome. Even if your situation feels hopeless now, there are people in your life who care about you and want you here.

You can recover from suicidal feelings with the right support. Seek help immediately if you are having suicidal thoughts, engaging in suicidal behaviors, or planning a suicide attempt. Reach out to an adult you trust—such as a parent, doctor, or counselor—and be honest with them about how you are feeling.

If you feel safe right now, read more about ways to manage suicidal thoughts and find out when you need to get help for suicidal behaviors.

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If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone right now, text, call, or chat 988 for a free confidential conversation with a trained counselor 24/7. 

You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.

If this is a medical emergency or if there is immediate danger of harm, call 911 and explain that you need support for a mental health crisis.