How to Reach Out & Talk About Suicide

Written by Nissa Bisguier

Talking about suicide is a hard thing to do, whether it’s yourself experiencing thoughts of suicide or someone you know. If you are thinking of suicide, you may feel overwhelming anxiety, feel as though you hate yourself, or think you do not deserve to live. You may have racing thoughts that prevent you from concentrating or even getting to sleep. Alternately, you might feel tired all the time, with little motivation to do anything other than sleep. Stress, conflict, unhealthy relationships, hardships, mental illness, and substance use are all factors that can lead to thoughts of suicide. Along with these feelings, you may also feel alone, as though no one would understand what you’re going through. We want you to know that isn’t the case. About one in four people will experience a mental health challenge before the age of 18 and it’s more common than we think. Sometimes it seems easier to keep these thoughts inside. You might feel that if you were to open up about these feelings, you would be a burden to your family or friends, or that you’re hopeless and have nowhere to turn. Perhaps you think that asking for help is a sign of weakness and that you should be able to deal with what you’re going through on your own. While we understand the severity of these feelings, we know that talking about these thoughts is often the first step to getting better.

You are not a burden; you are not alone. Having the courage to seek help when you need it is admirable and a sign of strength. It means that you are ready to get the support that you need and deserve. There are people who want to help relieve the pain you feel and there is no shame in asking for support. We encourage you to reach out to a trusted adult. For some, caregivers, parents, and family members are trusted adults, but not always. And it’s okay to find someone outside your family too. You can reach out to a guidance counselor, a teacher, a coach, a friend’s parent, or any adult in your life you would feel comfortable talking to. It’s often easier to talk to our close friends about what we’re going through. If this is true for you, you can start by talking to a friend and asking them to go with you to approach a trusted adult. Starting the conversation can be nerve-racking, but with a friend by your side you may feel calmer and more supported. Taking the first step is what counts. If you are hesitant, you can start by expressing only some of what you feel, and then ease into a deeper conversation.

If you don’t have access to a trusted adult that will provide you with the resources and support that you need, there are also other supportive services offered nationally or even within your own community. Reaching out to a Crisis Hotline will give you the tools to access an experienced counselor who can help you brainstorm strategies specific to your needs. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be in crisis to talk to someone on one of these hotlines. Hotline counselors are trained to listen and can help you with a mental health issue no matter how small. By calling a crisis hotline or contacting some of the other resources below, you can get started on a path to a brighter future. We urge you not to keep what you’re feeling to yourself. You are not alone, you matter, and you deserve help.