Getting Help for Suicidal Thoughts: There’s Another Way to Stop the Pain

When you feel like suicide is the only way, don't believe it. That's a lie depression tells.

When depression and hopelessness become overwhelming, sometimes suicide might seem like the only way to escape the pain. But don’t believe it. That’s a lie depression is telling you. You have other options, even though you may not be able to see them right now.

If you start to have thoughts that ending your life is the only choice for you, take a step back, and remind yourself of the truth:

  • Understand that depression and hopelessness distort your perspective, keeping you from seeing all your options and preventing you from making good decisions.
  • Recognize that suicidal thoughts are the result of treatable conditions. You don’t have to feel this way forever.
  • Act as if there are better options out there than killing yourself, even though you may not be able to see them right now.
  • Know that suicidal thoughts don’t last forever. If you can delay the urge to die by suicide, it may lessen. And eventually, as you recover and start to see more clearly, your suicidal thoughts will lift.

How to get help right now

If you are in danger of hurting yourself or attempting suicide, don’t wait. Reach out for help right away. Here are places you can go for help:

  • Call the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 in the US, or 1-833-456-4566 in Canada
  • Go to if you want to chat online
  • Contact your doctor or mental health professional
  • Reach out to a pastor, spiritual leader, or a safe person in your faith community
  • Talk to a trusted friend or someone you love
  • Call 911 or your local emergency number

How to manage suicidal thoughts

Thinking about suicide is not unusual. At least out of every five people will have suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives. However, the vast majority of people do not act on those thoughts.

Dying by suicide isn’t common, but it’s a risk you should take seriously, and if you are having thoughts of suicide, especially overwhelming urges to end your life, don’t ignore them.

Talk to your doctor or mental health professional about your suicidal thoughts so that he or she can help treat the underlying conditions that may be causing them. Your provider can also give you strategies to manage suicidal thoughts until they lessen. Follow the advice on the next page to make a personal safety plan, either with your therapist or with a trusted friend. Your safety plan will help you remember who to call in a suicidal crisis, guide you to make your environment safe and remind you of your reasons to stay alive. Seeking treatment is an essential part of dealing with suicidal thoughts. Your doctor or mental health professional will help you find the next steps to take. Therapy may stretch you, but it will get easier as you go along. The more you engage in healthy coping habits, the easier and more natural they will become. Recovery is work, though it is often not as hard as fighting suicidal thoughts all alone. And once you find the right strategy, feeling better will be worth it.