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If You Are Feeling Suicidal
If you or someone you know has ongoing thoughts of death or suicide or if a suicide attempt has been made, contact a doctor, go to a hospital emergency room immediately or call the National Hopeline Network at (800) 784-2433.

If you have begun to think of suicide, it is important to recognize these thoughts for what they are: expressions of a treatable medical illness. Don't let embarrassment stand in the way of vital communication with your physician, family or friends. Take immediate action and talk to somebody today. Remember, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

When people don't understand the facts about suicide and depressive illnesses, they may respond in ways that can cut off communication and worsen feelings. That's why it is important to find someone you trust and can talk with honestly. It's also why your mental health professional is an important resource in helping you, and your family.

Create a Plan for Life
Many depression-related suicides occur during the first three depressive episodes before a person learns that an episode of suicidal thinking is temporary. As people learn from experience that any given episode will eventually pass, the likelihood that they will actually act on suicidal impulses drops sharply.

It is important to have a course of action ready before thoughts of suicide occur. Some people find it helpful to develop a Plan for Life. The Plan for Life lists warning signs you should watch for and actions to take if you feel that you are slipping into suicidal thoughts. Your Plan for Life may include:

  • contact information for your doctor, including back-up phone numbers (emergency services, pager and mobile phone)
  • contact information for friends and family.
  • a description of medical diagnosis, not just your depression but any medical problems you may have; include information about any medications you are taking.
  • health insurance information
  • contact information for a local suicide hotline
  • contact information for your local DBSA support group.

Educate those you trust about your condition before it becomes a crisis so they can be prepared if they are called upon to help. Provide key support people with your Plan for Life so they can act quickly, if needed. Carry a copy of your Plan for Life with you at all times so you can refer to it or pass it along to someone else who might be helping you in a time of crisis. With all the phone numbers in one place, it will be easier for someone to help.

What you can do to fight suicidal thoughts

Keep a journal to write down your thoughts. Each day, write about your hopes for the future and the people you value in your life. Read what you've written when you need to remind yourself why your own life is important.

Go out with friends and family. When we are well, we enjoy spending time with friends and family. When we’re depressed, it becomes more difficult, but it is still important. Visiting or allowing visits by family and friends who are caring and can understand may help you feel better.

Avoid drugs and alcohol. Most deaths by suicide result from sudden, uncontrolled impulses. Since drugs and alcohol contribute to such impulses, it is essential to avoid them. Drugs and alcohol also interfere with the effectiveness of medications prescribed for depression.

Learn to recognize the earliest warning signs of a suicidal episode. There are often subtle warning signs your body will give you when an episode is developing. As you learn to manage your illness, you will learn how to be sensitive to them. This is a signal to treat yourself with the utmost care, as opposed to becoming angry or disgusted with yourself.

Talk about suicide. Share your feelings and thoughts with a friend or loved one who can provide valuable perspective and reassurance.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Sample Plan for Life

© 2004 Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Excerpted from “Suicide Prevention.” Used with permission.