Not all suicidal people want to die

Trigger Warning: In this blog we talk about suicide which could be upsetting for some people. if you have recently been affected by suicide now might not be the best time to read this post. If you require immediate support we would recommend you contact the Samaritans, you can call anytime for Free: 116123 or email: jo@samaritans.org

Does that statement shock or confuse you?
Seems odd doesn’t it that someone would end their life if they didn’t actually want to die, but sadly this can be the case. So I will say it again.

Not all suicidal people want to die; they simply don’t want to live with the pain they experience any longer.

Most suicidal people are at a crisis point and are not sure what else to do. They may feel that suicide will be an end to their pain. That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want to live anymore, it just means they feel they cannot carry on as they are.

I’m writing this blog because every time I see a suicide attempt or person in crisis in a public place such as a train station reported in the media it is often followed by very negative and quite damaging comments. Here are some examples that horrified me this week!

“I hate selfish people who do this and inconvenience others”
“I’m sick of these cries for help, just get it over with already”

Can you imagine reading or hearing that when you are most at need?

Can you imagine if that was your friend or family member and a complete stranger said similar comments? How would you feel?

It was clear to me from reading these comments that the persons writing them did not understand suicide. So I’m going to try and dispel some myths around suicide and hopefully help change mindsets so that we can try help people when they need us the most.

Myth 1: Once someone is seriously considering suicide, there is nothing you can do.
Most suicidal crises are time-limited based on unclear thinking. People attempting suicide want to escape their problems. Instead they need to confront their problems directly in order to find other solutions. Solutions which can be found with the help of concerned individuals who support them through the crisis period, until they are able to think more clearly.

Myth 2: If you ask a person about their suicidal intentions, you will encourage the person to kill themselves. 
The opposite is true. Asking someone directly about their suicidal feelings will often lower their anxiety level and act as a deterrent. The crisis and resulting emotional distress will already have triggered the thought in a vulnerable person. Your openness and concern in asking about suicide will allow the person experiencing pain to talk about the problems which can reduce their anxiety. This may also allow the person with suicidal thoughts to feel less lonely or isolated, and perhaps a bit relieved.

Myth 3: People who talk about suicide don’t complete suicide.
Eight out of Ten people who take their own lives give warning signs of their suicidal intentions. People who make suicidal threats and attempts must be taken seriously.

Myth 4: A person who attempts suicide will always be ‘suicidal’
Most people who are at risk feel suicidal for only a brief period in their lives. With proper assistance and support they will probably never be suicidal again.

Myth 5: Suicidal people are fully intent on dying. 
Most suicidal people are often undecided, often right up until the last minute, about living or dying, and they may ‘gamble with death’, leaving it up to others to save them. Few people take their own life without first letting others know how they are feeling. This cry for help is often given in code. If recognised, these distress signals can be used to save lives. Some warning signs might be:

• Talking about wanting to die
• Looking for a way to kill oneself
• Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
• Talking about being a burden to others
• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
• Acting anxious and/or agitated
• Engaging in reckless behaviour
• Sleeping too little or too much
• Withdrawing or feeling isolated
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
• Displaying extreme mood swings

Myth 6: Improvement following a suicidal crisis means the risk of suicide is over. 
Most suicides occur within three months after the onset period of ‘improvement’, when people have the energy to turn suicidal thoughts and feelings into action. Relatives and physicians should be especially vigilant during this period of time.

Myth 7: Suicide occurs more frequently among certain classes of people.
Suicide is neither a rich man’s disease nor a poor man’s curse. Showing no class prejudice, suicide is represented proportionately in all strata of society.

Myth 8: If a person really wants to kill themselves, no one has the right to stop them. 
Just because suicide implies voluntary action that does not mean that the person really wants to die. More often than not, a suicidal person simply wants to escape from pain and even though they may not realise this, death is not the only answer. Chances are the person does not have to die for the pain to stop.

These myths may influence how we see and treat a person experiencing suicidal thoughts, but also whether we see ourselves as capable of making a difference. Suicide is preventable and openly talking about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a live.

I hope this has helped to change some beliefs and attitudes towards suicide.

Although a serious topic suicide is not something we should shy away from. We should not underestimate our abilities to help a suicidal person, and possibly save a live. If you ever find yourself in this situation try remain calm and no matter how shocking the situation may seem listen and communicate non judgmentally at all times and refrain from making assumptions. Seek further assistance if you do not feel able to support the person on your own.

If we encounter suicidal thoughts ourselves there are coping skills, we can use to help us overcome this.

Get out for a while:

  • Go for a walk, jog or bike ride
  • Go to the movies
  • Visit somewhere new, like a cafe, library, museum or park

Be creative:

  • Draw something simple
  • Make a nice meal
  • Write a short story

Soothe your senses:

  • Meditate or do yoga
  • Take a hot shower
  • Listen to your favourite songs


  • Look at the clouds
  • Read a book, magazine or blog post
  • Take a nap

For further information about this topic I have added some useful resources below.

If you have been directly affected, I would recommend you seek support as soon as you can.

Support for self:
Samaritans: www.samaritans.org Call anytime for Free: 116123 email jo@samaritans.org

Supporting others:
Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helping-someone-else/

Support after suicide:
Papyrus UK: https://papyrus-uk.org/suicide-bereavement-support/ 

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