10 Strategies to Cope with Suicidal Thoughts
Updated: Sep 27, 2022
If you or your loved one are having suicidal thoughts, the Lifeline is available 24/7 across the United States. The Lifeline has trained crisis workers who will listen, provide support, and resources.
Call: 1-800-273-8255 or Chat
If you or your loved one is having suicidal thoughts and do not think that you can be safe or are in immediate danger, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room
Many people experience suicidal thoughts throughout their lifetime. Some people will experience thoughts during a short period, intermittently, or chronically throughout their life. Some of these thoughts may be, "I wish I weren't alive", "I wish I could go to sleep and not wake up", to "I want to die." Some people may have suicidal thoughts and not act on these thoughts. Suicidal thoughts usually occur when people feel so overwhelmed by life or life experiences and feel as if they are unable to cope and feeling helpless and hopeless.
You may be feeling helpless, hopeless, alone, overwhelmed and/or frightened. You may not know what to do or who to turn to to try and cope. The following is a list of 10 Strategies to Cope with Suicidal thoughts, if you are not in an emergency.
If you are in crisis and/or thinking and planning to act on your thoughts, do one of the following:
Go to your nearest emergency room
Call a suicide hotline. In the U.S,: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
1. Talk to Someone
Experiencing suicidal thoughts can feel very lonely and isolating. You
may be feeling like no one understands and no one will listen or be
there for you. Sometimes holding all of these thoughts and feelings
inside make them grow bigger. Talking to someone that you trust and
sharing your thoughts and feelings can provide relief and they can also
provide support. If you do not have someone to talk to or they are not
available, reach out to a hotline for support. For a list of various
support hotlines, view our resource page.
2. Create a Distraction Kit
Put together a box of items that you enjoy and that can provide
distraction and soothing from the current thoughts and feelings. Some
ideas are: pictures (e.g., of loved ones, favorite places, and/or
animals), soothing objects (e.g., smooth stone, favorite scented lotion,
soft fuzzy blanket), a list of your favorite songs to go listen to, book of
puzzles, positive affirmations, motivational quotes, and insights learned
3. Make a Plan for Your Future
What are you looking forward to? Write down plans that excite you
and research those plans. Maybe it is a trip or a new hobby/activity.
4. Write your Thoughts and Feelings in a Journal
Remember that the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing are temporary; they will pass. Writing down your thoughts and feelings is one way to get them out of your head and helps to create distance from the pain.
5. Listen to a Playlist of your Favorite Songs
You know that song that always puts a smile on your face? How about
that one that reminds of you a favorite memory? Or the one that you
sing at the top of your lungs to. Create a playlist of these songs and
then listen to them when you are in a tough place.
6. Watch Funny Video Clips
Doing something to evoke the opposite emotion of what you are
experiencing now can be helpful in starting to shift your mood and your
thoughts. Pull up video clips that make you laugh or one of your favorite
comedy movies or comedians. Can't think of anything in the moment?
Some of my favorites are silly animal videos, (The sounds French
7. Cuddle with Your Pet
Take some time and focus on your furry friend. Spending time cuddling, petting, and playing will improve your mood and your bond.
8. 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 -1
Go through this exercise to bring you back to the here and the now:
Say out loud 5 things you can see and really look and observe them
Touch 4 things by you and really feel the textures and sensations
Say out loud 3 things you can hear and listen and observe the sounds
Identify 2 things you can smell and spend a few moments with it
Bring your awareness to 1 thing you can taste, even if it is subtle