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What Causes Suicidal Thoughts?

People who have suicidal thoughts often also have very stressful life events or are very depressed. Sadly, thinking about taking one’s own life is simply a reaction to these difficult life circumstances.

However, no matter what circumstances lead us to having thoughts of suicide, it can be prevented. There’s always a way through any difficult situation – a way through towards a better way of life.

It may seem like there's no way to solve your problems and that suicide is the only answer to end emotional pain. But, you can take steps to get help and start enjoying your life again.

I know because I suffered from suicidal thoughts when I was younger. It’s that dark place that you go to when everything else seems lost.

It’s the place where you think,

“They are better off without me”

and you really believe those words are true.

But they’re not.



Here’s an audio you can download which will tell you exactly why those words are wrong.

If you feel suicidal, please reach out for help now.

Either call for an ambulance or call a friend or family member. Or call a hotline number:

USA: call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) anytime of day.

UK: call the Samaritans on 116123 any time of the day.


What Causes Suicidal Thoughts?

Suicidal feelings can affect anyone, at any time, of any gender, of any background of any age. A growing sense of worthlessness and hopelessness can lead to feeling suicidal. You may not be aware of exactly what’s caused you to feel this way, nonetheless it can be, and often is, a number of factors

For me it was as if my thoughts completely consumed me until I seemed to have no control over my body, as if I was my thoughts and nothing else existed.

There are, however, certain struggles in your life that can cause you not to cope and to feel suicidal. Some of these maybe:

· Being bullied

· When a relationship ends

· When someone dies

· Being discriminated against

· Suffering long term physical pain

· Having domestic abuse

· Suffering long-term illness

· Having a big change e.g. retirement

· Financial problems

· Being homeless

· Made redundant

· Feeling isolated

· Being lonely

· Being in prison

· Low esteem

· Feeling like a failure

· Being addicted

· After having a baby

· Being forced into marriage

· Suffering sexual abuse

· Being raised in a dysfunctional family and suffering after effects e.g. PTSD

· Doubts about your sexual or gender identity

It can be really hard to believe there is a solution to what’s causing suicidal thoughts, especially if you don’t know why you feel suicidal in the first place.

But what ever that reason is, someone has felt it before and there is always support out there to help us cope with and overcome these thoughts.

A Note On Medication

Unfortunately, some antidepressants have a side effect and that is that they cause suicidal feelings. This is especially with a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) but all antidepressants carry this potential risk.

It seems we are particularly at risk if we are under 25. Having said that, my husband suffered from suicidal thoughts and feelings after taking antidepressants when he was 56.

May I strongly recommend you see your doctor as soon as possible if you are having suicidal thoughts and you are on antidepressants.


Here’s an audio you can download:

Related articles:


How Do I Know If I Am Having Suicidal Symptoms?

The warning signs for suicide or suicidal thoughts include:

  • Researching how to take your own life

  • Talking about taking your own life by making the statements like "I wish I were dead," “day would be better off without me,” "I'm going to kill myself," or "I wish I hadn't been born"

  • Wanting to be left alone

  • Withdrawing from social contact

  • Feeling trapped and hopeless about things in your life

  • Having extreme mood swings

  • Reading up about death or dying

  • Increasingly using alcohol or drugs and being unable to stop

  • Not caring about the normal routine, like eating, washing or sleeping

  • Doing risky, like using drugs or driving recklessly

  • Giving away stuff or writing letters to people

  • Getting affairs in order

  • Saying goodbye to people as if they won't be seen again

  • Being severely anxious or agitated, especially when experiencing some of the warning signs listed above

The warning signs may not be obvious. They can vary from one person to the next. Often people keep suicidal thoughts and feelings hidden but some might make their intentions very clear.

Exactly What Causes Suicidal Thoughts?

Suicidal thoughts have many causes but are often the result of feeling like you can’t cope with what seems to be a set of overwhelming life circumstances.

If you feel utterly hopeless about the future you may, mistakenly, think that the only solution is ending your life. It is common to experience a sort of tunnel vision, which often leads you down this road of mistakenly thinking suicide is the only option.

What Increases The Risk Of Suicide?

There are certain factors that may make someone more at risk of suicide at the same time they might not be direct causes. These include:

  • Having a family history of suicide

  • Having been mistreated in childhood

  • Had a previous suicide attempt

  • Had a history of clinical depression

  • Had a history of alcohol and/or substance abuse

  • Overwhelming feelings of hopelessness

  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies

  • Extreme religious beliefs e.g., belief that suicide is noble resolution of a personal dilemma

  • If there have been local epidemics of suicide

  • Feeling isolated and cut off from other people

  • Not being able to access mental health support or treatment

  • Suffering a significant loss like a relationship, a job or financials

  • Suffering physical illness

  • Having easy access to lethal methods

  • Unwillingness to seek help because of stigma

Protective Factors for Suicide

There are however some protective factors which can buffer individuals from suicidal thoughts and behavior. These have not been rigorously studied but identifying and understanding protective factors are equally as important as researching risk factors.

Protective Factors:

  • Effective clinical care for mental, physical, and substance abuse disorders

  • Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for help seeking

  • Family and community support (connectedness)

  • Support from on-going medical and mental health care relationships

  • Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, and nonviolent ways of handling disputes

  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support instincts for self-preservation

(U.S. Public Health Service 1999.)


If you feel suicidal, please reach out for help now.

Either call for an ambulance or call a friend or family member.

Or call a hotline number:

USA: call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) anytime of day.

UK: call the Samaritans on 116123 any time of the day.

** Please remember I am not a doctor. Please see your doctor for medical help. I am someone who has being severely depressed in the past. I now write and teach for people wanting to recover from long term depression.**


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