I get asked lots of questions, but even more questions are silently asked of Google and one of those is, “Is something wrong with you if you think of killing yourself?” The question as to whether something is “wrong” with you if you think suicidal thoughts often leads people to this blog so I thought it was important to address the question.
Thinking of Killing Yourself
I actually think the odd thought of suicide is not unusual. A friend once told me that he was unable to take an acetaminophen without thinking of the number it would take to kill him. This particular friend isn’t remotely suicidal but it’s just one of those thoughts that floats through his mind. I don’t think it means anything, per se, other than the fact that his mind is pretty active.
Of course, there are thoughts of killing yourself and there are thoughts of killing yourself.
The example above is a single thought transiently touching the mind, for many people thinking of suicide isn’t like that. For many people, thinking of suicide is almost an obsession. It seems they can think of little else.
Basically, yes. Thoughts don’t kill you, actions do. But there is a limit to this. If you’re thinking of acting on any of those thoughts, then thinking about them ceases to be “okay.” Or, more exactly, there is nothing “wrong” with you, but you do need help to ensure those thoughts don’t turn into actions.
When Should I Take Suicidal Thoughts Seriously?
That is up to you. As I said, certainly if you’re thinking of acting on any suicidal thought you absolutely need help right now. But if you’re not, then how seriously you take the thoughts are up to you. I think of all sorts of nastiness that has no impact on my real world. That’s imagination for you. It’s a play world and that’s okay.
I would suggest that if the thoughts are causing you distress, however, then you should seek help for the suicidal thoughts. That distress is probably telling you something. It doesn’t mean you have a mental illness, it just means that a psychiatric professional might be able to help you work through your thoughts of killing yourself.
Is There Something Wrong with Me if I Think of Killing Myself?
Basically, the answer is no. There is nothing wrong with you. You either have a very active imagination and these thoughts are fleeting or you are experiencing psychological (and maybe physical) pain that requires help. Either of those situations is okay. Neither of those situations means there is anything wrong with you. Thinking of killing yourself is just a psychological flag and the action it warrants is based on your personal situation. It’s great and mindful to realize that you’re thinking of killing yourself and it’s brave to admit to it. And don’t be afraid to get help for these thoughts if they’re troubling you, because that’s what help is there for. You’re not alone.