FAQ: What Should I Do if I Feel Suicidal?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 23, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

What should I do if I feel suicidal?


Expert Answers

Kenneth Robbins, M.D., is a senior medical editor of Caring.com. He is board certified in psychiatry and internal medicine, has a master's in public health from the University of Michigan, and is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His current clinical practice focuses primarily on geriatrics. He has written and contributed to many articles and is frequently invited to speak on psychiatric topics, such as psychiatry and the law, depression, anxiety, dementia, and suicide risk and prevention.
  • First, tell someone close to you rather than keeping suicidal thoughts to yourself. You may be reluctant to "burden" a loved one, but people who are suicidal and share their feelings with others are much less likely to go through with it. The real "burden" comes from committing suicide and leaving loved ones feeling guilty that they didn't do enough to prevent it.

  • If you're not comfortable telling a friend or relative, call your doctor or a suicide hotline immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is (800) 273-8255. Most local communities also have suicide hotlines.

  • Or, go to the emergency room or call 911.

Suicidal thoughts should never be taken lightly, so the most important thing you can do is to not ignore them or assume you're having a passing feeling. It's critical that you tell someone in order to make yourself safe and get on a path to receiving help.

What you ultimately want, fast, is a referral to a mental health professional who has experience assessing and treating people who feel suicidal. Thoughts of killing yourself are among the few mental health symptoms that require immediate professional help. Suicide is a permanent choice to deal with a temporary problem that can be treated.

With proper help, a person with thoughts of suicide will learn how to stay safe as their hopelessness and mood improve.


Community Answers

Beenthereb4 answered...

Although I respect the advice, guidance provided, it is obvious that this response is written by someone who has NOT experienced the thought, desire, drive to kill themselves. A person does NOT commit suicide thinking about the impact that it will cause "the living" who will continue after he/she has died... a person who commits suicide, in his/her hearts of hearts believes that he/she is providing relief to those whom he/she leaves behind. What an irony!... And I disagree, the issue is NOT always temporary... sometimes it is way deeper than any psychotherapist can analyze.