What are suicidal thoughts?

Suicide is defined as the act of intentionally ending your own life.  Many people who experience suicidal thoughts do not end their own lives.  Suicidal thoughts are often a symptom of another issue or cause.  Oftentimes talking though suicidal thoughts can help identify what’s fuelling them.  People find that they really want is NOT to end their lives, but to end emotional pain

Suicidal thoughts and feelings may be fleeting (come and go), build over time, or change from moment to moment.  

When we examine the ingredients of suicidal thoughts, we can find they contain: 

  • A feeling of hopelessness, that life is not worth living 
  • Tearfulness and feeling overwhelmed 
  • Feelings of unbearable pain, that you cant imagine living with 
  • Feeling useless or unwanted 
  • Desperate and not having any choices 
  • Preoccupied by death 
  • Feeling trapped, with no solutions and ending your life is an answer to emotional pain or problems. 

It's important to stress that when people talk though suicidal thoughts they can identify what’s fuelling them.  They find that they really want is NOT to end their lives, but to end emotional pain.


What to do if you're experiencing suicidal thoughts

Remove yourself from danger 

If you find yourself close to danger, physically remove yourself from any environment or items that could harm you, this will minimise the potential of acting on suicidal thoughts. 

Regulate your emotions

If you’re experiencing intense emotions, you might find the tools on the ‘What can I do to help myself cope with intense feelings?’ page helpful.  Being able to reduce the intensity of emotions may also help reduce the intensity of the suicidal thoughts.

Reach Out

People who have experienced suicidal thoughts have reported that speaking with someone about them has helped.  


Lifeline is the Northern Ireland crisis response helpline service for people who are experiencing distress or despair. Lifeline offers 24 hour support and can be contacted on 0808 808 8000


Samaritans are a regional, 24 hour helpline service that are focussed on helping you work through what's on your mind.  You can call them at anytime on 116 123.