What is suicidality

Suicide and suicidal thoughts - Symptoms and causes


Suicide, taking your own life, is a tragic reaction to stressful life situations — and all the more tragic because suicide can be prevented. Whether you're considering suicide or know someone who feels suicidal, learn suicide warning signs and how to reach out for immediate help and professional treatment. You may save a life — your own or someone else's.

It may seem like there's no way to solve your problems and that suicide is the only way to end the pain. But you can take steps to stay safe — and start enjoying your life again.

For immediate help

If you're feeling overwhelmed by thoughts of not wanting to live or you're having urges to attempt suicide, get help now.

  • Call a suicide hotline.
    • In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat at 988lifeline.org/chat/. Services are free and confidential.
    • If you’re a U.S. veteran or service member in crisis, call 988 and then press 1, or text 838255. Or chat using veteranscrisisline.net/get-help-now/chat/.
    • The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline in the U.S. has a Spanish language phone line at 1-888-628-9454.
  • Call 911 in the U.S. or your local emergency number immediately.

Products & Services

  • Book: Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, 5th Edition
  • Newsletter: Mayo Clinic Health Letter — Digital Edition


Suicide warning signs or suicidal thoughts include:

  • Talking about suicide — for example, making statements such as "I'm going to kill myself," "I wish I were dead" or "I wish I hadn't been born"
  • Getting the means to take your own life, such as buying a gun or stockpiling pills
  • Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone
  • Having mood swings, such as being emotionally high one day and deeply discouraged the next
  • Being preoccupied with death, dying or violence
  • Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns
  • Doing risky or self-destructive things, such as using drugs or driving recklessly
  • Giving away belongings or getting affairs in order when there's no other logical explanation for doing this
  • Saying goodbye to people as if they won't be seen again
  • Developing personality changes or being severely anxious or agitated, particularly when experiencing some of the warning signs listed above

Warning signs aren't always obvious, and they may vary from person to person. Some people make their intentions clear, while others keep suicidal thoughts and feelings secret.

When to see a doctor

If you're feeling suicidal, but you aren't immediately thinking of hurting yourself:

  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one — even though it may be hard to talk about your feelings
  • Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone in your faith community
  • Call a suicide hotline
  • Make an appointment with your doctor, other health care provider or a mental health professional

Suicidal thinking doesn't get better on its own — so get help.

Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic


Suicidal thoughts have many causes. Most often, suicidal thoughts are the result of feeling like you can't cope when you're faced with what seems to be an overwhelming life situation. If you don't have hope for the future, you may mistakenly think suicide is a solution. You may experience a sort of tunnel vision, where in the middle of a crisis you believe suicide is the only way out.

There also may be a genetic link to suicide. People who complete suicide or who have suicidal thoughts or behavior are more likely to have a family history of suicide.

Risk factors

Although attempted suicide is more frequent for women, men are more likely than women to complete suicide because they typically use more-lethal methods, such as a firearm.

You may be at risk of suicide if you:

  • Attempted suicide before
  • Feel hopeless, worthless, agitated, socially isolated or lonely
  • Experience a stressful life event, such as the loss of a loved one, military service, a breakup, or financial or legal problems
  • Have a substance abuse problem — alcohol and drug abuse can worsen thoughts of suicide and make you feel reckless or impulsive enough to act on your thoughts
  • Have suicidal thoughts and have access to firearms in your home
  • Have an underlying psychiatric disorder, such as major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or bipolar disorder
  • Have a family history of mental disorders, substance abuse, suicide, or violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • Have a medical condition that can be linked to depression and suicidal thinking, such as chronic disease, chronic pain or terminal illness
  • Are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender with an unsupportive family or in a hostile environment

Children and teenagers

Suicide in children and teenagers can follow stressful life events. What a young person sees as serious and insurmountable may seem minor to an adult — such as problems in school or the loss of a friendship. In some cases, a child or teen may feel suicidal due to certain life circumstances that he or she may not want to talk about, such as:

  • Having a psychiatric disorder, including depression
  • Loss or conflict with close friends or family members
  • History of physical or sexual abuse
  • Problems with alcohol or drugs
  • Physical or medical issues, for example, becoming pregnant or having a sexually transmitted infection
  • Being the victim of bullying
  • Being uncertain of sexual orientation
  • Reading or hearing an account of suicide or knowing a peer who died by suicide

If you have concerns about a friend or family member, asking about suicidal thoughts and intentions is the best way to identify risk.

Murder and suicide

In rare cases, people who are suicidal are at risk of killing others and then themselves. Known as a homicide-suicide or murder-suicide, some risk factors include:

  • History of conflict with a spouse or romantic partner
  • Current family legal or financial problems
  • History of mental health problems, particularly depression
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Having access to a firearm

Starting antidepressants and increased suicide risk

Most antidepressants are generally safe, but the Food and Drug Administration requires that all antidepressants carry black box warnings, the strictest warnings for prescriptions. In some cases, children, teenagers and young adults under 25 may have an increase in suicidal thoughts or behavior when taking antidepressants, especially in the first few weeks after starting or when the dose is changed.

However, keep in mind that antidepressants are more likely to reduce suicide risk in the long run by improving mood.

Teen suicide prevention

Female 1: I have my ups and downs just like anybody else.

Male 1: Maybe more than anybody else.

Female 2: I can be hard to figure out

Male 2: and I like my privacy.

Male 3: I don't want you looking over my shoulder all the time.

Female 3: But you know your kid better than anybody else and if you think he's acting different than usual,

Male 1: acting really down, crying all the time for no good reason

Female 2: or getting really mad,

Female 1: not able to sleep or sleeping too much,

Male 3: shutting their friends out or giving their stuff away,

Female 2: acting reckless, drinking, using drugs, staying out late,

Male 2: suddenly not doing stuff they used to love

Female 3: or doing stuff that's just not like him,

Male 1: it might be nothing to worry about. It might just be high school

Female 1: or it might be something more. He might be depressed.

Female 3: Not just feeling down, really depressed.

Male 2: It might be that your kid is thinking about killing himself.

Male 3: It happens more than you think, more than it should.

Female 3: And people say "I had no idea."

Male 1: "I thought it was just a phase he was going through."

Female 1: "I never thought she'd do it."

Male 2: "I wish he'd come to me."

Female 2: "I wish he had said something."

Male 3: "I wish I'd said something."

Female 3: when it's too late. So if you think your kids acting different, if she seems like a different person, say something.

Male 1: Say "What's wrong? How can I help?"

Female 2: and ask him straight out, "Are you thinking about killing yourself?"

Female 1: It doesn't hurt to ask. In fact, it helps.

Male 3: When people are thinking about killing themselves, they want somebody to ask.

Male 2: They want somebody to care.

Female 2: Maybe you're afraid you'll make it worse if you ask. Like you'll put the idea in their head.

Male 3: Believe me, it doesn't work that way.

Female 1: It doesn't hurt to ask.

Female 3: In fact, the best way to keep a teenager from killing herself is to ask, "Are you thinking about killing yourself?"

Male 1: And what if they say "yes"

Female 2: or "maybe"

Male 2: or "sometimes?"

Female 3: Well, here's what you don't say,

Male 3: "That's crazy."

Female 2: "Don't be such a drama queen."

Male 3: "You're making too much of this."

Female 1: "That boy's not worth killing yourself over. "

Female 3: "It's not going to solve anything."

Male 1: "You're just trying to get attention."

Male 2: "You're not going to kill yourself."

Male 3: What you do say is

Female 2: "I'm sorry you're feeling so bad."

Female 1: "How can I help?"

Female 3: "We'll get through this together."

Male 1: "Let's keep you safe."

Male 2: A lot of people think about killing themselves, adults and kids.

Male 3: Most of them never tried but some of them do, so if your kid says,

Female 2: "I'd be better off dead."

Female 3: "I can't live with this."

Male 3: "I'm gonna kill myself."

Male 2: take her seriously. Find someone she can talk to about it. Someone who knows how to help.

Female 2: Sometimes kids want to kill themselves because something happened--a breakup, a failure,

Female 1: but sometimes it goes deeper and it's not going to go away by itself.

Female 3: Get some help. Talk to your doctor,

Male 2: or a counselor at school,

Male 1: or your minister,

Male 3: but don't just let it drop,

Female 1: and make sure that your kid always has someone to turn to. Someone he trusts.

Female 3: Make a list together. Write down three, four, five names

Male 1: and put a suicide hotline number on there, too.

Male 3: Have him keep that list in his wallet so he always knows where to turn.

Female 3: Make sure your home is safe.

Female 2: If you have pills she could use to hurt herself, lock them up.

Male 2: If you have a gun, don't just lock it up. Get it out of the house, the bullets too.

Male 1: And one more thing, if you think your kid might be about to hurt himself, don't leave him alone.

Female 1: Take him to the emergency room.

Male 3: Call 9-1-1 if you have to.

Male 1: We all have our ups and downs but sometimes it's more than that.

Female 3: If you think something's wrong, the only way to find out is to ask.

Female 2: Ask straight-out, "Are you thinking about killing yourself?"

Male 2: Don't wait until you're sure. Trust your gut.

Male 3: Because it never hurts to ask

Female 1: and it can make a big difference,

Female 2: all the difference

Female 3: in your kid's life.

Reach out — Preventing teen suicide

[Music playing]

[Woman singing]

[Song lyrics]

I know what it feels like to say I'm so cold. One without the other. Lost in that hole. Don't think you are all alone. You have somewhere to go. This ain't a one-person show. Let someone out there lend you a hand. Don't go through this alone.

Reach Out. Give someone a chance to help even when you are falling down, down, down. Your whole life will turn around. Reach out to somebody. Give your hand to somebody. Life is in the palm of their hands.

Reach Out. Give someone a chance to help even when you are falling down, down, down. Your whole life will turn around. Reach out to somebody. Give your hand to somebody. Life is in the palm of their hands. Reach out to them. Reach out to them. Reach out to them.

[Music playing]


Suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide take an emotional toll. For instance, you may be so consumed by suicidal thoughts that you can't function in your daily life. And while many attempted suicides are impulsive acts during a moment of crisis, they can leave you with permanent serious or severe injuries, such as organ failure or brain damage.

For those left behind after a suicide — people known as survivors of suicide — grief, anger, depression and guilt are common.


To help keep yourself from feeling suicidal:

  • Get the treatment you need. If you don't treat the underlying cause, your suicidal thoughts are likely to return. You may feel embarrassed to seek treatment for mental health problems, but getting the right treatment for depression, substance misuse or another underlying problem will make you feel better about life — and help keep you safe.
  • Establish your support network. It may be hard to talk about suicidal feelings, and your friends and family may not fully understand why you feel the way you do. Reach out anyway, and make sure the people who care about you know what's going on and are there when you need them. You may also want to get help from your place of worship, support groups or other community resources. Feeling connected and supported can help reduce suicide risk.
  • Remember, suicidal feelings are temporary. If you feel hopeless or that life's not worth living anymore, remember that treatment can help you regain your perspective — and life will get better. Take one step at a time and don't act impulsively.

More Information

  • Suicide and suicidal thoughts care at Mayo Clinic
  • Are you thinking about suicide? How to stay safe and find treatment

By Mayo Clinic Staff


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Suicidality - The Mental Health Collective


Suicidality can be defined as a preoccupation with recurring thoughts of harming oneself, ending one’s life, or feelings that life is no longer worth living. This can manifest in:

  • Talking about suicide

  • Isolating from family and friends

  • Increased use of alcohol and/or other substances

  • Reckless /risky behavior

  • Developing a plan to kill oneself

  • Stockpiling drugs

  • Purchasing a firearm or other weapon

  • Suicide attempts

Suicidality is often a manifestation of underlying mental illness, or a sign of despair and hopelessness.   Suicidal thoughts can range from brief, fleeting ideation to more pervasive desires to harm oneself.  Someone who is expressing suicidal thoughts should be considered as experiencing a mental health crisis. 

What Causes Suicidality?

Usually, there is no single factor that causes a person to experience suicidal thoughts. Often an individual is struggling with an underlying mental health condition. However, there can also be a major stressor or life event which, combined with other predisposing vulnerabilities, increases an individual’s sense of hopelessness and suffering.

Stressors or illnesses which may lead to suicidal thoughts in adults can include:

For teens or children, stressors that may lead to suicidal thinking can include:

Each child, adolescent, and adult is different in terms of their underlying vulnerabilities and triggers for suicidal thoughts. It is important to remember that not everyone who is suicidal has underlying depression; often suicidal acts are impulsive or in response to a life stressor.  

Current U.S. Suicide Rates

Suicide rates in the United States have risen drastically in recent years. Since 1999, the number of people in this country who die by their own hand has gone up 33%, from 10 to 14.5 per 100,000. Suicide now ranks as the second-leading cause of death for young people aged 10-34, and the fourth-leading cause of death for people aged 35-54.

Help for Suicidality

If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs and symptoms of suicidal thinking, it is critical to seek support immediately. 

The first step in seeking support for suicidal ideation is getting professional help.  Sources of professional help include suicide hotlines, emergency rooms, or reaching out to your psychotherapist, primary care doctor, or psychiatrist. Treatment begins first with ensuring that the affected individual is in a safe, contained environment where they are unable to act on their suicidal thoughts. The next step is a comprehensive assessment by a mental health professional to understand the biological, psychological, and social components of someone’s suicidality.   Finally, a treatment plan can be implemented.

Treatment often includes determining the most appropriate level of care (for example, outpatient, inpatient, residential), and then utilizing a combination of appropriate medications and psychotherapeutic approaches. If substance abuse is part of the challenge, detoxification and addiction treatment may also be needed. With proper treatment, suicidal thoughts and impulses often start to subside, and individuals begin to feel a sense of hopefulness once more.

The Mental Health Collective Can Address & Treat Suicidality

In many instances, The Mental Health Collective can help you or your loved ones with suicidal thoughts. Treatment at The Mental Health Collective begins with a full bio-psycho-social assessment by a board-certified psychiatrist and a licensed psychologist.

After your comprehensive evaluation, we will establish a diagnosis and treatment plan In the beginning, we will focus on stabilizing mood and impulses to self-harm, in order to ensure your safety. Our team will support you in implementing your treatment plan, including individual, group, family therapy, and medications when appropriate. 

Your individualized treatment plan will also include healthy activities such as:

Our goal is to move beyond symptom remission at The Mental Health Collective and move towards Functional Recovery.  We want to support you in building a life that is aligned with your core values, meaning, and purpose.

Overcoming suicidality can be likened to walking through a pitch-dark tunnel, one step at a time. If you continue to go forward, eventually a light appears at the end of the tunnel. Our caring and experienced mental health professionals and other support staff are here to walk through the tunnel with you. You don’t have to do it alone.



Functional Recovery

Send our team a message or call 888.717.9355

Get help & support for suicide

If you’re in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, find help in your area with Find a helpline.

If you believe that someone else is in danger of suicide and you have their contact information, contact your local law enforcement for immediate help. You can also encourage the person to contact a suicide prevention hotline using the information above.

Learn more about personal crisis information with Google Search.

Google’s crisis information comes from high-quality websites, partnerships, medical professionals, and search results.

Important: Partnerships vary by country and region.

Korea Suicide Prevention Center nine0033
Country Hotline organization Website Phone number
Argentina Centro de Asistencia al Suicida www.asistenciaalsuicida.org (011) 5275-1135
Australia Lifeline Australia www. lifeline.org 13 11 14
Austria Telefon Seelsorge Osterreich www.telefonseelsorge.at 142
Belgium Center de Prevention du Suicide www.preventionsuicide.be 0800 32 123
Belgium CHS Helpline www.chsbelgium.org 02 648 40 14
Belgium Zelfmoord 1813 www.zelfmoord1813.be 1813
Brazil Centro de Valorização da Vida www.cvv.org 188
Canada Crisis Services Canada crisisservicescanada.ca 833-456-4566
Chile Ministry of Health of Chile www.hospitaldigital. gob 6003607777
China Beijing Suicide Research and Prevention Center www.crisis.org 800-810-1117
Costa Rica Colegio de Profesionales en Psicologia de Costa Rica psicologiacr.com/aqui-estoy 2272-3774
France SOS Amitié www.sos-amitie.org 09 72 39 40 50
Germany Telefon Seelsorge Deutschland www.telefonseelsorge.de 0800 1110111
Hong Kong Suicide Prevention Services www.sps.org 2382 0000
India iCall Helpline icallhelpline.org 9152987821
Ireland Samaritans Ireland www. samaritans.org/how-we-can-help 116 123
Israel [Eran] ​​ער"ן www.eran.org 1201
Italy Samaritans Onlus www.samaritansonlus.org 06 77208977
Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology www.mext.go.jp 81-0120-0-78310
Japan Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan www.mhlw.go 0570-064-556
Malaysia Befrienders KL www.befrienders.org 03-76272929
Netherlands 113Online www.113.nl 0800-0113
New Zealand Lifeline Aotearoa Incorporated www. lifeline.org 0800 543 354
Norway Mental Helse mentalhelse.no 116 123
Pakistan Umang Pakistan www.umang.com.pk/ 0311-7786264
Peru Linea 113 Salud www.gob.pe/555-recibir-informacion-y-orientacion-en-salud 113
Philippines Department of Health - Republic of the Philippines doh.gov.ph/NCMH-Crisis-Hotline 0966-351-4518
Portugal SOS Voz Amiga www.sosvozamiga.org

213 544 545

963 524 660

912 802 669

Russia Fund to Support Children in Difficult Life Situations www.ya-parent. ru 8-800-2000-122
Singapore Samaritans of Singapore www.sos.org 1-767
South Africa South African Depression and Anxiety Group www.sadag.org 0800 567 567
South Korea 중앙자살예방센터 www.spckorea.or 1393
Spain Telefono de la Esperanza www.telefonodelaesperanza.org 717 003 717
Switzerland Die Dargebotene Hand www.143.ch 143
Taiwan 国际生命线台湾总会 [International Lifeline Taiwan Association] www.life1995.org 1995
Ukraine Lifeline Ukraine lifelineukraine. com 7333
United Kingdom Samaritans www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help 116 123
United States 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 988lifeline.org 988

How can we improve it?





Information about the unified all-Russian children's helpline

0444 8-800-2000-122 .

When calling this number in any locality of the Russian Federation from fixed or mobile phones, children in difficult life situations, adolescents and their parents, other citizens can receive emergency psychological assistance, which is provided by specialists of services already operating in the constituent entities of the Russian Federation that provide services for telephone counseling and connected to a single all-Russian number of children's helpline.

Confidentiality and free of charge are the two main principles of the children's helpline. This means that every child and parent can anonymously and free of charge receive psychological assistance and the secrecy of his call to the helpline is guaranteed.

Working hours of the children's helpline in the constituent entities of the Russian Federation

(as of October 1, 2013) 38 -PIC AO
Name of the subject of the Russian Federation 9Arkhangelsk region 09.00-22.00
22 with Nenets Autonomous Okrug daily 09.00-17.30
23 Vologda region around the clock
24 Kaliningrad region daily0039 around the clock
35 Chechen Republic 08.30-20.00
Southern Federal District
37 Republic of Adygea
Kalmykia PON-PIP. 8.00-17.00
80 Magadan region Pon.-Pon. ​​
81 Sakhalin Region
83 Chukotka AO Mon-Fri 09.00-22.00, closed 16.00-22.00

Infographics. The principle of operation of a single federal helpline number for children, adolescents and their parents

Information from the regions about the work of the children's helpline


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