This post contains language that pertains to suicide. This post also contains actual quotes from people who have had suicidal thoughts. There is no graphic language.
The purpose of this post is to attempt to illustrate what a person’s thought process is like when suicidal ideations are present. It is not an actual representation of everyone’s thoughts, of course, but I hope to shed some light on what types of thoughts can invade our minds when we’re having suicidal ideations, and how truly horrific it can be.
By continuing to read this post, you acknowledge that you have read and understand the contents of this trigger warning.
Thoughts of a suicidal person
Suicidal thoughts, or ideations, are a very scary side effect of mental illnesses. They aren’t specific to any certain illness or disorder, and they don’t discriminate. Someone who has what seems like a “picture-perfect life” with millions in their bank account are just as susceptible to having suicidal thoughts as a full-time working parent or a homeless person.
Rational or irrational?
It is said that most suicidal thoughts are irrational. I’m of the opinion that they are both rational and irrational. Before you start thinking “No, Nicole, the fact that someone thinks that they are better off dead is not at all rational,” hear me out.
When we’re having suicidal thoughts, our brain is essentially lying to us. Negative thoughts about ourselves invade our mind and we believe them deep down in our soul.
A person’s suicidal thoughts may be irrational to you and me, but they are very real to that person because it is what their brain is telling them. The fact that the thoughts are real to that person makes it their reality, and it isn’t something they can help.
Using myself as a reference, I’ll give you an example of what my brain may tell me on any given day.
Nicole, it’s time to wake up. You have to be at work in an hour. Nicole, you’re hungry. You should eat. Nicole, your office is hot. Turn your fan on.
Nicole, you are uneducated and you have accomplished nothing significant in your life. You’re almost thirty years old, for crying outloud. Your social anxiety causes you to suck at meeting people, which is why you have hardly any friends, so it’s not like your death would cause a big fuss. You might as well just call it quits. Oh, and I’d like some more coffee so that I can continue functioning today.
I don’t mean to offend anyone with my humor. I’m just trying to keep the mood somewhat light so that this post isn’t entirely morbid. But, you get the idea. That’s obviously not a 100% accurate representation of the thought process, but my point is that our brain tells us these things just like all of our other thoughts.
Here is another example, and it is something that I experienced earlier this week.
Nicole, you always manage to find a way to screw something up. This is your fault, again. Absolutely worthless. Why do you even bother? Just give up and stop trying.
Those thoughts were very real to me, regardless of whether or not they were rational to someone else. In that moment, I really did feel worthless. It was my reality because that is what my brain was telling me. It started to flood my thoughts with “proof.” I thought of the many ways that I may have been worthless and done nothing worthwhile. My brain was actually rationalizing what it was telling me. That’s insane!
Similarities in suicidal ideations
A lot of people experience the same or similar feelings when they’re having suicidal ideations. I’ve listed some common ones below.
Feeling as though…
- you’re worthless
- you lack purpose
- no one will miss you or care if you die
- no one loves you
- no one cares about you
- it is the only way the pain will stop
- everyone will be better off without you
I asked my mental health fam on Twitter for their input.
@TheGoodTheHuman was kind enough to share some things that has gone through her mind when she has had suicidal thoughts. She said that she has wholeheartedly believed that the people around her would be better off. She was of the opinion that they would be sad, but only for a little while. She felt alone and that she had nothing to offer the world. She felt as though she didn’t fit in, and that this world wasn’t made for her. Ultimately, she saw no other alternative.
She also mentioned another important factor of suicidal ideations, which is the physiological effects that such thoughts can have on the body.
That amount of negativity can have serious effects on the body. It can cause headaches, which is one of the top effects for me, and it can also cause sweating, shaking, crying, and a general sick feeling, like it does for @TheGoodTheHuman. There are various other physiological effects as well, but those are some of the most common ones.
@jeremyemery1984 was also kind enough to share something with me for this post.
5 years ago when I did attempt it… My thoughts were so mixed up. Loneliness, self guilt, that I could be with family and friends but still feel like that I wasn’t really living up to who I was supposed to be. My life didn’t matter to me or anyone else. The non-stop pain of existing and not knowing who I was and who actually cared for me. I was the problem and the only solution was to die.
It’s terrifying when those thoughts come back. Even on a good day, they’re in the background. Everyday is a battle that has to be won. We all have to find something that we’re good at. We need to find personal self worth to survive.
How to help someone who is having suicidal thoughts
When she has had suicidal thoughts, @TheGoodTheHuman mentions that there is honestly very little that can pull her through it. Many people who have such thoughts have this same opinion, including myself.
With that being said, the best thing you can do is to just be there, physically. Isolation is not ideal for someone who is having suicidal thoughts. If you are able to be there with them, it will help show them that they are not alone. It will also allow you to ensure that they do not try to harm themselves.
If they are willing, try to keep a conversation going so that it helps get their mind off the negativity they’re having to deal with. Listen to what they say and, if they talk about their feelings or thoughts, refrain from judging them at all costs.
What they are feeling and thinking in that moment is very real to them, no matter how irrational the feelings or thoughts may seem to you. They’re feelings matter, so do your best to be sensitive to them. One of the best things you can do is try to understand them and where their feelings are coming from.
Reassure them that they are not alone because you are there for them.
Depending on the situation, it may be recommended that you go ahead and get them professional help, whether it is by calling one of the Suicide Hotlines that I listed above, taking them to their local emergency room, or calling 9-1-1.
Thoughts of a suicidal person should never be taken lightly, and nor should their words. If you aren’t sure what to do, don’t hesitate to go ahead and seek professional help for them, as they may or may not ask for it.
Do you have suicidal thoughts?
If you have suicidal thoughts, please know that I am glad that you’re still here. As is the rest of the mental health community. You matter, you’re important, and you have so much purpose.
I know that going along with the thoughts may seem like your only remaining option, but please believe me when I tell you that it is not true. That is just something that your brain is telling you, unfortunately. Please do not believe it.
One of the things that has benefited me the most is by connecting with others in the mental health community on Twitter. It is truly amazing, and I honestly mean it when I say that I wouldn’t have made it through my last bout of suicidal ideations without their kind words and support.
Please consider connecting with us on Twitter, even if you wish to remain anonymous. If you would like to connect with us or if you’d like to learn more, please either comment or connect with me on Twitter and I will tag you with some information as soon as I possibly can.
Please call the appropriate hotline if you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to a friend, family member, myself, or our #SickNotWeak Twitter fam.
🇺🇸 United States: 1-800-273-8255
🇬🇧 United Kingdom: 116 123
🇨🇦 Canada: 1 800 456 4566
🇮🇪 Ireland: 116 123
🇦🇺 Australia: 131 114
🇫🇮 Finland: 040-5032199
🇸🇪 Sweden: 46317112400
🇩🇰 Denmark: +4570201201
🇳🇱 The Netherlands: 0900-0113
🇵🇱 Poland: 52770000
🇵🇹 Portugal: 225 50 60 70
🇮🇱 Israel: 1201
🇿🇦 South Africa: 0514445691
If you have anything to add, please let me know in the comments! I would love to hear your input, and I would love to know if you have any suggestions that I can share.