Feeling Suicidal?

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Remember suicide is preventable. You are not alone and can get help now.

"Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain."

You are not a bad person, weak, or flawed because you feel suicidal. It doesn't even mean that you really want to die – it only means that you have more pain than you can cope with right now.


Suicide - the facts


  • Every day around 2 people die by suicide in Scotland
  • Scotland’s suicide rate is two thirds higher than in England and Wales
  • Talking about suicide can save lives
  •  If you are worried that someone is suicidal, ask them. It could save their life
  • If you are feeling suicidal, don't hide it. Talk to someone you trust or phone a helpline
  • Suicide affects all ages, genders, and cultures
  • Most people who attempt suicide do not want to die; they want to end the pain they are suffering


Are feelings of suicide common?


Most people at some point in their lives will have a suicidal thought but for the majority this will be a fleeting or at least short-lived experience.


When do suicidal thoughts become problematic?


Thoughts of suicide should always be taken seriously but if these thoughts are persistent, occur frequently, are strong and for the individual there appears to be no alternative, immediate action should be taken to get support and help.


How can I help myself?


If you are feeling suicidal don't try to cope alone. Sometimes problems seem insurmountable or the mental anguish is unbearable – share how you feel with someone else:

  • Talk to someone – talking to a family member or a friend or a colleague can bring huge relief. A pastor, minister, priest or any other spiritual figure are useful sources of support
  • Talk to a helpful advisor – by phoning in complete confidence and anonymity a helpline such as Breathing Space, the Samaritans, Childline etc
  • Talk to your doctor – if you are going through a longer period of feeling low or suicidal, you may be suffering from clinical depression
  • Talk to your mental health care team – if you are already seeing a psychiatrist, psychologist or community psychiatric nurse
  • Contact emergency services – are you at high risk at this time of killing yourself? Do you have a plan and the means to complete suicide?

If so, call 999 RIGHT NOW.

You don't really want to die; you just want your pain to stop or go away. You feel stuck and trapped as if there is no other way out. There is!

You are feeling intense emotional pain, so overwhelming that you feel you cannot cope. You feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel. There ALWAYS is.

It's okay to feel the way you are feeling now and there are people around who can help you.

When you are feeling suicidal talk to someone immediately.


Concerned about someone?


If you are worried that someone is suicidal, ask them. It could save their life.


What causes someone to consider taking his/her own life?


Suicidal behaviour is complex. Some risk factors vary with age, gender and ethnic group and may even change over time. The risk factors for suicide frequently occur in combination.

Research has shown that more than 90 percent of people who take their own life have depression or another diagnosable mental health issue or substance abuse problem.


The following are considered important:


Trigger events or a life crisis such as the death of a loved one, separation, divorce, and a broken romance; loss of job, examination stress; financial difficulties, and loss of face; chronic pain, serious illness or disability; abuse; bullying and harassment; alcohol and drug-related factors.

The leading cause of suicide is untreated depression which may be triggered by one or some of the above factors.


Are there any indicators that someone is at risk?


Most people thinking about suicide will try to let someone know. There are several signs to watch out for. The key to helping is watching out for the warning signs and knowing what to do to help. Everyone is different so in some cases few or none of these signs are evident, however here are some of the most common ones.


  • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself
  • Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to available pills, or other means
  • Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person e.g. "life is not worth living", "what's the point of going on"
  • Feeling hopeless, helpless, desperate
  • Signs of depression (loss of interest in usual activities, changes in sleep pattern, loss of appetite, loss of energy, expressing negative comments about self)
  • Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities—seemingly without thinking
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Giving away personal possessions or putting personal affairs in order
  • Telling final wishes to someone close
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
  • Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Experiencing dramatic mood changes
  • Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life.


What can I do to help someone who may be suicidal?


  • Most important – treat the person seriously
  • Be direct and talk openly about suicide and don't avoid the issue
  • Be sure and willing to listen and accept the individual's feelings
  • Be non-judgmental and don't debate the rights or wrongs of suicide
  • Be there for the person and be involved
  • Don't dare them to do it
  • Don't act shocked
  • Don't be sworn to confidentiality and seek support
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available
  • Take action by removing any means they may have to complete suicide
  • Get assistance from appropriate support agencies.


Are there common misconceptions about suicide?


The following are some common misconceptions about suicide:

  • "People who talk about suicide won't really do it"
    Almost everyone who commits suicide has given some clue or warning. Do not ignore suicide threats. Statements like "You'll be sorry when I'm dead," or "I can't see any way out" – no matter how casually or jokingly said – may indicate serious suicidal feelings
  • "Anyone who tries to kill themselves must be crazy"
    Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They must be upset, grief-stricken, depressed, or despairing, but extreme distress and emotional pain are not necessarily signs of mental illness
  • "People who have unsuccessfully attempted suicide are only seeking attention"
    A large percentage of those who have had previous attempts at suicide go on to complete suicide
  • "If a person is determined to kill themselves, nothing is going to stop them"
    Many suicides can be prevented. Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to die and wanting to live. Most suicidal people do not want death; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever
  • "People who complete suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help"
    Studies of people who go on to complete suicide have shown that more than half had sought medical help within six months before their deaths
  • "Talking about suicide may give someone the idea"
    You don't give a suicidal person morbid ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true-bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.


Would you want to be better prepared to support and help a person at risk of suicide?

Choose Life, Scotland’s national strategy and action plan to prevent suicide, funds a range of suicide prevention training programmes available all over Scotland.  These range from a few hours to two days. 

For more information about training opportunities in your local area visit

Related help and contacts

If you need help right now, visit the Immediate Help page.

Anyone can get depressed - Want to turn things around? Phone Breathing Space - 0800 83 85 87