• Dr. Beth Marnix

10 Strategies to Cope with Suicidal Thoughts


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:

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

in therapy.


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

Bulldogs make sometimes!) and Kids Say the Darndest Things.


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


9. Identify Your Reasons for Living

Write a list of what, who, and why you are living. Are there people

who are important to you and you are important to them? Your lovable

pet(s)? Goals you want to accomplish? Places you want to visit?


10. Write a Gratitude List

What are the things that you appreciate and are thankful for in your life? Take some moments to reflect and write a list. You can even keep adding to your list throughout the days, months, and years ahead. When tough days happen, read back and reflect on things you wrote before. Stumped about what to write on your gratitude list? Think of the small things... are you grateful for a warm cup of coffee? The sunshine streaming through your window? A pretty plant? A special person in your life? An accomplishment? A skill you have? Something you have learned? A special memory?


Lastly, if you are not already, I recommend seeking out professional support. A therapist and/or psychiatric provider are well versed in supporting and treating underlying concerns that contribute to suicidal thoughts.



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