Are you thinking about suicide? How to stay safe and find treatment

Hopelessness may lead you to think about suicide. Learn how to stay safe, get through a crisis and find treatment. By Mayo Clinic Staff

When life doesn't seem worth living anymore, it may seem that the only way to find relief is through suicide. When you're feeling this way, it may be hard to believe, but you do have other options.

Take a step back and separate your emotions from your actions for the moment.

  • Recognize that depression and hopelessness can distort your perceptions and reduce your ability to make good decisions.
  • Realize that suicidal feelings are the result of treatable problems.
  • Act as if there are other options instead of suicide, even if you may not see them right now.

It may not be easy, and you might not feel better overnight. Eventually, though, the sense of hopelessness — and thoughts of suicide — will lift.

Get immediate help

If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, get help right away by taking one of these actions:

  • Call your mental health specialist.
  • Call 911 or your local emergency number.
  • Call a suicide hotline number — in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
  • Seek help from your doctor or other health care provider.
  • Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone else in your faith community.

Learn coping strategies

Don't try to manage suicidal thoughts or behavior on your own. You need professional help and support to overcome the problems linked to suicidal thinking. Your doctor or mental health provider can help you identify coping strategies tailored to your specific situation. Consider discussing coping strategies with people who know you well, such as family members or trusted friends.

You may be advised to do things you don't feel like doing, such as talking with friends when you'd rather stay in your bedroom all day. It will get easier to do such things as they become habits. If you're already in treatment, go to all of your appointments and take medications as directed. Do your best to stick with your treatment plan, even when you're feeling hopeless.

Jun. 15, 2012 See more In-depth