Telling someone that you are suicidal is an incredibly difficult and brave act. It takes a lot of courage to share your thoughts about dying with another person. If you are unsure about how to start the conversation, we’re here to help!
First, think about your answers the following questions. It will help you process your thoughts and feelings:
- How long have these thoughts been happening?
- How frequently do these thoughts occur?
- What triggers or warning signs have you been experiencing?
- Do you have a plan, or have you decided on how you want to die?
- How can the person you tell support you?
You can start by telling the person that you have something important to tell them. Explain that you are telling them because you trust them. It’s okay to talk about how awkward or scared you feel about opening up. This will give them the opportunity to show support and love even before the “big reveal.”
Here are some example sentences that can help you talk about your suicidal thoughts:
- For the past (day/week/month/year/__________), I have been thinking about suicide.
- I think about dying every (minute/hour/day/week/__________).
- I have been feeling (hopeless/trapped/unbearable pain/moody/empty/like a burden/angry/anxious/agitated/reckless/isolated/__________).
- I have struggled with (eating/sleeping/self-harm/driving recklessly/drinking more/having severe mood swings/overwhelming sadness/unexplained anger or rage/__________).
- I have thought about (a plan/a method/how I am going to kill myself/__________).
- I would like to (talk to a doctor or therapist/create a safety plan/find a support group/__________) and I need your help.
Who should I tell?
Think about who you want to support you through this. The suggestions below are just that: suggestions. Start with whichever option is most comfortable for you right now.
Friends and family
If you have supportive friends and family, opening up to them can be a great place to start. It can be a huge relief to open up to the people closest to you, since you no longer have to hide what you are feeling. You can also open up to coaches, teachers, or religious leaders—anyone in your personal life that you are close to.
Professionals you can open up to about your mental health include doctors, therapists, or peer supporters. If you already see a doctor, that can be a great place to start—and they can help you find a therapist or any other specialists you may need to see. If you are in school, a school counselor can help you with this.
Support groups are made up of people who have experienced similar things. They can meet in person or online. They talk about their daily lives, struggles, and strategies they have used to cope and thrive. It can be nice to feel like you belong to a community, and to hear about how other people have experienced the same things you have.
Anonymous help lines
Hotlines, warmlines, online support, or text lines can help, too. These are typically run by trained volunteers or employees whose job it is to listen to those who reach out. Talking to a stranger can help you feel safer about what you are sharing. Strangers can sometimes offer more objective feedback than the people who are more involved in your life.
Here are additional tips to help start the conversation:
- Start with a text if a face-to-face talk is too intimidating. It could be a short text message that says, “I have some important things on my mind, and I was hoping we can talk about it.”
- Find information online that might help you explain what you are going through. Print it and bring it with you when you are ready to talk.
- Take one of Mental Health America’s free and confidential mental health tests. Print out your results to share with the person you plan to talk to.
- If you’re not quite ready to talk about suicidal thoughts, or if you don’t know who to trust, you can start by opening up about your mental health in general. The way they react to something like “I’ve been feeling so depressed and hopeless” can tell you a lot about how supportive they will be about suicidal thoughts.
Having a conversation about suicide can be difficult, intense, and uncomfortable—but it is a courageous step towards recovery and feeling like yourself again. Many people who struggle with their mental health have experienced suicidal thoughts, and you are definitely not alone. Just know that is does get better, and it starts with a hard conversation with the right person.