How to Tell Someone You’re Feeling Suicidal Pt. 2

Last time I talked about feeling suicidal and who to tell if you’re feeling suicidal. This time I talk about how to tell someone you’re feeling suicidal.

How to Tell Someone You’re Feeling Suicidal

If you’re telling a professional, it’s actually not that hard. Just come straight out and tell them. Don’t dance around it and try not to be afraid because they’ve heard the words, “I’m suicidal,” so many more times than you can imagine. They know those words and they know what to do with them. Remember, you can’t get help and you can’t feel better if you don’t tell anyone.

If you’re telling a non-professional that you feel suicidal it can be tougher, but it can be done. Telling someone that you’re feeling suicidal is like talking about anything else serious:

  • Make sure you have a quiet, private space and time to talk
  • Plan out what you want to say ahead of time
  • Try to be calm, if you can
  • Bring a loved one, if you need to, and one is available
  • Provide resources for the person you tell (like a website on suicide or a hotline)

And remember that the other person may need time to adjust to the news. It’s a big thing you just told them and sometimes people don’t’ react in the best way to big news. Give them a chance to digest the information though and hopefully they will come around.

What If the Person You Tell Isn’t Supportive?

I’m sorry to say that even if you pick the right person and the right moment and say all the right words, not everyone is going to be supportive in such a serious situation. Your average person doesn’t have training on how to handle suicidal loved ones and they might react very badly simply because if their own baggage that has nothing to do with you.

If the person isn’t supportive, it’s not about you – it’s about them.

I wish I could save people from having this experience, but I can’t. All I can say is that if the person isn’t supportive, it’s not about you – it’s about them. Most people will support you. If you find one who can’t, then you have to tell someone else. I know you don’t want to go through the hell of telling someone else that you feel suicidal again, but sometimes it can’t be avoided.

What if the Person Overreacts?

Well, overreacting is kind of natural when you hear a loved one is feeling suicidal but hopefully, with the correct information, you can work together to form a plan to deal with your feelings of suicide. The other person might be really upset. That’s because they don’t want to lose you and can’t imagine a world without you in it. Try to understand that perspective. Try to understand that their love of you is causing their reaction. It’s their love of you that will help you during this tough time so try to embrace it.

What Happens after I Tell Someone I’m Feeling Suicidal?

Telling Someone You Feel SuicidalA professional might do any number of things but generally, if you tell a professional that you’re not planning on acting on your feelings of suicide, they’re going to try to help you through the situation without admitting you to a psychiatric facility. Psychiatric facilities are generally for those who are a danger to themselves or others.

In an ideal world, a loved one would always be supportive and they would always help you find help for your situation. Because while telling someone that you’re suicidal is a good first step, if they’re not a professional, they can’t really handle the problem and you can’t get better.

But what they can do is stand beside you as you make a plan to find a professional to help you with your suicidal feelings. And this is huge thing. It’s a huge gift. Having someone see your underbelly and love you anyway will give you strength. Hopefully it will give you the strength you need to get that help.

Because in the end, the goal of telling someone that you feel suicidal is to feel better. And you need to keep talking to people until that happens. You deserve it. You deserve help and you deserve a life that you want to live.

More suicide and suicide attempt resources are available here.

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About Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.

Natasha’s New Book

Find more of Natasha’s work in her new book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. Media inquiries can be emailed here.

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  1. hi I need help I’m a teenage boy with a lot of hatred twords the world and tword my mom I don’t know what to do and I feel like suicide is the best option for me and another thing is that if I don’t comit suicide ill probably end up running away and taking my fauther with me.

  2. I’m a teenage girl, and I’ve got cronic social and general anxiety, eating disorders, and depression. I feel like I’m just making up false thoughts for attention, wanting people to THINK I want to die, but I cry easily, and most of the time, feel like utter crap. I broke up with my girlfriend a week ago, because she didn’t love me, I knew it.
    I dunno, I was talking to a counsellor, but she “closed the case,” because she said there wasn’t anything she could do for me.
    I live with my grandma, because my mum and dad don’t want me, and my stepmum who lives next door is my best friend.
    She would be the only person I could tell, and while I know she’d be there for me, I don’t want to tell her, because I don’t want to go back to my old counsellor, or hospital, because I’m scared of needles, and pills.
    My SA makes it impossible to talk to anyone, or say no, and so I can’t tell anyone, even on the phone or computer what I feel like, or what I want.
    I go to a ‘flexible learning centre,’ because school was too hard for me.
    I havn’t got any friends, and I just feel like crap. To be honest, I would feel safest in a small, padded room, then at home. As long as I had a laptop and WIFI, or a book, I’d be fine. I like small rooms, with corners to sit in and no people over my life now.

  3. League, yes there are resources like you mentioned the only problem for me us I gave to do done traveling yo get to my somewhat local VA. It takes me about 45 minutes to drive to thus VA if I decide to change my therapist I would have to drive smother hour and half to get to them because he us the only therapist at his location. As far as support hoes my girlfriend just tells me that my depression/anxiety us all in my head and I should just get over it and then she starts getting mad at me because she feels that I want everything to be about me and my problems! She just came back from a seven day cruise to South America with her sister when she got home (last night as a matter of fact) she got REALLY upset when she saw that I had cleaned our entire house! She said it made her feel inadequate. She said she was tired and went to bed. I didn’t go because our then four month old daughter wasn’t able to go because she was too young so I stayed home with the baby. She does things like that to me a lot.

  4. Hello everyone. I’ve been feeling EXTREMELY suicidal for quite some time, I’m 44 years old and feel so damn worthless to everyone around me. I have four kids ranging from 16 years to just 5 months old. I know if I told my girlfriend about me being suicidal she’d be gone before I could bat an eyelash! I’ve been seeing a psychologist at the VA and as it turns out I’m HIS therapist more than he is mine. I’ve never told anyone about my suicidal thoughts, this is a first for me so please be gentle. Everyone here has said some pretty insightful things and I’m glad I stumbled onto this website. I desperately want help but am so afraid of winding up like Juan B. From
    March 13, 2013. Someone please help me, I’m sinking FAST!!!

    • Anthony, are there depression/PTSD or stress management support groups for you at the VA? Also, can they assign you a different therapist since your current psychologist isn’t a great fit for you? You need to open up about your suicidal thoughts, don’t be ashamed. By talking about it you could prevent yourself from falling further into it and closer to the process of healing/managing it. I know the more I internalized my suicidal thoughts..they manifested into physical pain, longer periods of depression, made my suicidal impulses much stronger and it made me a very aggressive person. Don’t keep it hidden..silence = death. You can get better but you have to reach out and construct a new regiment for your mental health..that starts with finding a new therapist. Try to find one that deals specifically with PTSD/Complex PTSD.

      • Leslie, yes there are resources like you mentioned the only problem for me is I have to do some traveling to get to my somewhat local VA. It takes me about 45 minutes to drive to this VA if I decide to change my therapist I would have to drive another hour and half to get to them because he is the only therapist at his location. As far as support goes my girlfriend just tells me that my depression/anxiety is all in my head and I should just get over it and then she starts getting mad at me because she feels that I want everything to be about me and my problems! She just came back from a seven day cruise to South America with her sister when she got home (last night as a matter of fact) she got REALLY upset when she saw that I had cleaned our entire house! She said it made her feel inadequate. She said she was tired and went to bed. I didn’t go on the cruise because our then four month old daughter wasn’t able to go because she was too young so I stayed home with the baby. She does things like that to me a lot.

  5. It’s really difficult some days for me to want to live. I write stories and the depression, specifically major dysthymia, blocks out my creative mojo and my motivation. I basically feel like I’m half-dead. But I’m also scared to commit suicide. Because what if that pushes someone else to commit suicide? But I can’t take feeling like I’m half-dead all the time. It’s a living hell!

  6. Its really hard feeling suicidal, I just want to end my life, I don’t find any thing that makes me feel better, nor making me stay in this world. My family just overreacted, and didn’t help, friends, actually I don’t have real friends to talk about how am I feeling. I’ve been to a psiciatrist before and just gave me some meds and those just made it easy for me to attempt suicide, just enough to make me sleep for 2 days. I just want to die, [moderated]

    • Oscar
      1 (800) 273-8255
      National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

      Have you tried a Psychologist? Look into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which is a technique they use. I have to pair it with contemplative meditation, exercise and various herbal supplements. I don’t believe that one thing will help you.it’s a combination of several things and a whole lot of work from you. It’s exhausting but sometimes you have to see several different doctors.

  7. My heart goes out to everyone here who feels so alienated. Suicide is the number one cause of deaths under 30 in my (small) country; it’s a massive problem and as such has been recognised. We have a 24/7 helpline that’s free from cellphones and provides face-to-face counselling within 7 days, avoiding the huge waiting lists from GPs. It saved my life.

    Now, though, my boyfriend is feeling suicidal. We have a great mental health system here, lots of resources, and he refuses to use any of them. I’m the only person he’s told and I swore I wouldn’t tell anyone, but I’m finding it so hard to bear alone. I have experience, yes, but only with myself. I’m doing everything I can, in my limited way, but I still have clinical depression and I need so badly to talk about this with a friend or professional. I asked him if I could – see, not so smart with this – and he immediately withdrew, clearly regretting that he’d told me. I reassured him as best I could that he is the priority here and that I wasn’t insinuating that he’s a burden to me.

    Someone said earlier that they’re not about empathy to the people they tell. Really? My suicide plan was elaborate as hell to minimise suffering to my loved ones. I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want to hurt them. You don’t speak for all of us on that. (Sorry if I sound angry. It’s just one of those days where everything feels personal.)

    I’m trying to find articles/blog posts about help people received by telling professionals. It’s a lot harder than I’d thought. Again… My heart goes out to you guys.

  8. I’ve had several suicide attempts over the years. I have shared those feelings with certain family members and friends. When the attempts occur and I don’t die, I think they figure it was just a phase and I wasn’t REALLY trying to kill myself. My last attempt this past July I ended up in the ICU for 4 days. But before that I attempt, I told a friend what I wanted for my funeral. I wanted a video about bipolar disorder played and if he could tape that for me. I told someone to look after my daughter. And I let them know where the life insurance was. I even had a friend tell me, “I don’t know what to do. If you are going to do it or not. You keep going back and forth.” I was going back and forth because I was trying to find a reason to live. But that response what the final trigger for me just to get it over with. Now, I’m happy I failed. But I hope I will be taken seriously if this happens again.

  9. “Professionals” don’t do squat. I’ve seen 9 different psychs over 17 years and it hasn’t done any good for my depression. I can’t even recall all the meds I’ve been prescribed and none of them work. At my lowest I’ve gone to hospitals only to have them lie about treatment, and then discharge me, giving me another opportunity to attempt (which I took). Family over react, friends dnt understand, and those you trust don’t value what you’ve said and don’t care or are annoyed. Eventually people get sick of hearing you admit your suicidal feelings and thoughts and just expect u to do it already or shut up about it. I don’t have hope that there’s help for me. Nothing can be done.

  10. I have felt suicidal quite a number of times, and have on a couple of occasions thought up detailed plans of action to ensure my children are cared for, I will not be discovered by my husband or children, things are in order at home etc. In each instance I have managed to survive without telling anyone specifically that I am feeling suicidal, largely by keeping busy and forcing myself to keep going. It is not a great solution, but it keeps me alive, and I dread the thought of admitting the struggle to anyone and then of being dragged off to a mental health unit by anyone, most of all the police. So, the struggle goes on. It is so hard to admit to others that I feel like this that I just don’t say anything.

  11. I have attempted suicide several times. Sometimes someone called me and then called for help. Other times I turned myself in to the ER. That is very difficult. You have to go up to an untrained clerk and say “I’m suicidal”. Then I are taken to a room to wait for a doctor while security guards stand outside the door. Some ER docs are supportive and professional but others are dismissive and almost angry at you.

    I have been taken into the hospital by police about 3 times. In the worst, I was in the hospital overnight for observation after an overdose and the treatment of drinking charcoal. Two policemen arrived to take me to the psych hospital in the morning. They handcuffed me and then attached the handcuffs to a chain around my waist. It was very difficult walking out of the hospital to the patrol car that way.

  12. This is really helpful. I’m an adolescent who suffers with depression and after months of suicidal feelings (and one attempt- I didn’t realise I was actually going to do it) I have finally decided I’ll tell my parents. I’m scared that they will think I’m not serious because when I wrote out my feelings, my mother listed all the reasons why I shouldn’t feel this way. I’m scared she’ll do that again. As for my step-dad, I don’t think he’ll be able to deal with it properly… I’m going to do it today (already have the note in my hand because I have school- gives them a few hours to think about it). Wish me luck!

  13. Some of your advice is very good but there’s one which I completely disagree with you.

    “Provide resources for the person you tell (like a website on suicide or a hotline)”

    Do you really expect a suicidal person to research information and provide it to their family or friend? I had chronic major depression for 5yrs, three of which were severe, and I had acute anxiety. In that time it never occurred to me to call a suicide hotline. I was trying to manage my symptoms of anxiety believing that they could be alleviated holistically (never touched drugs, prescription meds or alcohol). My memory deteriorated to the point I couldn’t read a single paragraph and hold onto any information, my equilibrium was so off..I constantly felt like the ground was moving or room was spinning until one day I couldn’t walk and needed to crawl (I’m not exaggerating). I had been openly discussing suicidal thoughts I was having with my then boyfriend(they ravaged my mind 24/7) and he pretty much just said he didn’t know how to help me. My mind was not clear enough to look at my situation logically and research depression..I was focused on my anxiety (fear) and self hatred. I just don’t see how it’s the responsibility of the troubled person to find their own resources when many of us aren’t in a right state of mind to help ourselves

  14. My psychiatrist, who knows I am suicidal, has written today to my GP to discharge me from my local mental health services as they are currently being restructured due to NHS cutbacks.

    Those same NHS cutbacks mean that I no longer have a mental health nurse who sees me, and I haven’t seen once since Aug 2012…due to constant restructuring and lack of funds.

    And now my GP is going to have to decide if he is going to put me forward for reassessment by a new team and make me go through this hell again.

    My psychiatrist knows my mental state, knows my plans and even has my suicidal intentions in writing…there is no support, no care, no help.

  15. Well, the last time I confessed anything to a Professional (my anxiety Psychologist) she called the Ministry of Children and Families on me.

    Note: I have NEVER laid a hand on my children, the most I’ve done is raise my voice, yell but never physically melted down in front of them nor have I ever verbally/mentally lashed out at them.

    I told this doc my 11 year old stays home alone at night for 3 hours between the sitter leaving and me coming home from my 2nd job. (which I need to survive). This was her overreaction from only meeting me for two half-hour sessions post-retirement of my former Psychologist . (He was lovely and was also aware of my situation, yet didn’t feel the need to be alarmed). My son had taken the Home Alone Course, Red Cross Babysittiting plus I had asked for advice from an RCMP, city Policeman and others about leaving him home alone.

    So, yeah….on those days when I am feeling like there is no purpose left for me…I don’t trust ANYONE. And some people wonder why Post Partum Depressed Mothers harm their children etc…you get ONE Dud professional in the system and your life could be ruined. Individuals need to be assessed as they are…individually.

  16. When my GP found out about my suicidal ideation he called me in to his surgery. Why? To sign waiver forms to absolve him and his partners from any possible liability.

  17. Let me start by saying I’m sorry you had such an awful experience, Juan. Our local mental health emergency hotline was taken over by a government group, whose sensitivity toward suicidal callers is perhaps best described as non-existent.

    Anyhow, my main remarks are addressed to Natasha. Natasha, I love your blog and read it voraciously, but I can’t find common ground with you on your advice here. “Most people will support you. If you find one who can’t, then you have to tell someone else.” strikes me as utter nonsense. Such a reaction would be enough to tip me past the point of feeling useless and suicidal to feeling actively suicidal and committed to doing away with myself.

    In the next paragraph, you wrote: “The other person might be really upset. That’s because they don’t want to lose you and can’t imagine a world without you in it. Try to understand that perspective. Try to understand that their love of you is causing their reaction.” Well, just write me off again there. I’m not into empathizing with others; I’ve got my own problems!

    Basically, your scenarios may be realistic, but just carrying blithely onward after bad reactions to the most difficult admission in one’s life is absolutely out of the question for some people, myself included.

    • I agree. People, I think, still believe, that if one shares suicidal thoughts, it’s not really going to happen. The old, “It’s just a cry for help.” No, No, No.

  18. Not long ago I was feeling very low and called the advice nurse at my health care provider.

    The questions were very intrusive and I hung up.

    My reward for seeking help?

    When I got home five heavily armed police officers advised me that I was going to a mental health center for evaluation.

    I am glad it happened because there is no way I am ever going to confess those feelings of despair to anyone AGAIN.

    • Wow that sounds really traumatic. What was your reaction when you got home?
      Stories like this is why I’ve never admitted to other people how bad my depression gets at times. I’m quite certain I would never actually go so far to attempt suicide, but the feelings are still their every day. I really don’t know how I could explain this to someone who hasn’t been in the same situation.