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Suicidal Thoughts


Many people experience feeling deeply distressed and occasionally can see no way out of the pain or hopelessness they feel, which is when taking their own life might be considered.

Common thoughts that precede suicidal behaviours:

  • ‘life will never get any different or better’
  • ‘its all just hopeless/pointless’
  • ‘the world is better off without me’
  • ‘I can’t go on any more’

Problems that lead to suicidal thinking are often complex and have been going on a long time; the problems often involve a mix of individual and social factors. Despair may develop slowly as the pressures and hurts of many years wear down a person’s self-esteem. As life becomes more distressing and difficult to bear, the thought of not being alive any longer may grow more appealing. People in suicidal crisis often feel powerless because the events and pressures in their life seem to be beyond their control, except taking their own lives. Often there is a belief that suicide is ‘the only option’; this is always untrue. There is a common idea that suicide brings relief from pain but relief is a feeling that can only be experienced by being alive. Often there is a wish to escape a situation that seems impossible to handle or they need relief from an unbearable state of mind. Sometimes a suicide attempt is a way to convey desperate feelings to others.

There will be many people who have to deal with the consequences of suicide who will be deeply affected by it.

Research shows that many of those who have made serious suicide attempts and survived have ultimately felt deeply relieved to have not ended their life.

Moving out of feeling suicidal

It is important to know that, whatever the source of your distress or depression, it is possible to feel differently, to feel better than suicidal.

Suicide can only occur where there is both opportunity and means available. If you are aware of suicidal tendencies, ensure both do not occur simultaneously, ie remove any means and stay around people. Do not indulge in drugs or alcohol that prevent clear thinking. Stop any risk-taking behaviour.

It is essential to let others know how you feel and what you are thinking about. Although you may consider you are thinking rationally, there will be other options and considerations. Despite emotional pain often seeming invisible to others, a well-selected person (perhaps a trusted friend/family member or a GP, or someone not known to you, maybe on a help-line) can be helpful to talk with and can make a difference between choosing to live or die.

It can be useful to make a pact with someone, even yourself, where you build in a delay to any suicidal actions (ie ‘I will wait 48 hours before I take any action’). For example, you may commit to telephoning someone, for instance the Samaritans, who are available 24/7. (if you don’t feel you can talk, perhaps e-mailing, texting, communicating on MSN are ways of building in delays to any action). Perhaps consider making a list of all the reasons why you have kept yourself alive until now. This may show you that you also have a will to survive. Despite maybe feeling ‘committed’ to ending life at some time, the fact that you are reading this means there is a part of you that is unsure and it is that part that must be listened to and respected.

Getting support

Immediate support: If you have taken any suicidal action, inform anyone around you and/or phone 999 for an ambulance or get yourself to a casualty ward. Specially trained nurses can be made available who will not judge you but can give some clear medical information and, if required, organise some mental health support for you.

For an urgent mental health assessment contact the Crisis and Resolution Home Treatment Team on 0300 200 0011. You may present as a patient at the walk-in centre at the Coventry and Warwickshire site hospital which is in Coventry Town Centre, Stoney Stanton Road. The walk in telephone number is 024 7622 4055.

For more information see our emergency contacts page

General support: Often suicidal thoughts are linked with depression which could be treated by anti-depressant medication and/or talking therapies. Discuss this with your GP. Suicidal feelings are a result of pain exceeding the resources for coping and it is possible to both reduce the pain and increase coping resources to regain balance.

Supporting someone else who is suicidal can be demanding and difficult – ensure you get support and share the task – suicidal intention does not come under any confidentiality agreement you may have made – it needs sharing. Talking with someone who is suicidal can reduce their feelings of isolation and give an opportunity to share their distress thus reducing the risk of suicide.

For more information and support:

Contact your GP or Health Centre for an appointment – they also have facilities to deal with urgent cases and can provide out of hours services.

Wellbeing Support Services are available for students at the University of Warwick

Papyrus - support for you

Saneline 0845 767 8000 12noon till 2am daily

Samaritans 116 123 or email jo at samaritans dot org dot uk for confidential reply

Maytree is a London based charity offering a refuge for people feeling suicidal. Accommodation and support are offered free of charge and they take self-referrals.

Depression alliance



'It gets brighter' - information and videos on dealing with mental health difficulties

Stay Alive app Apps to help with suicidal thoughts

Give us a shout - text service (85258)

Comic story on suicidal thoughts

Self-help references

The following references are available from the University Library either in hard copy, CD or ebooks. Most are readily available to buy either in bookshops or over the internet. There are also a limited number of books in the Learning Grid and the Bio-med Grid. 

How to help someone who is suicidal

Hill and Gorman


A Special Scar



Please see list of other self-help references.

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