How to Stop Suicidal Thoughts

Here’s what you need to know about suicidal thoughts and tips for coping with them.

Table of Contents

What are Suicidal Thoughts?

When you’re having suicidal thoughts, they may feel impossible to escape. When they do begin to dissipate, you may feel as though they’re impossible to prevent from happening again. However, there are evidence-based techniques to help both manage and prevent suicidal thoughts.

Suicidal thoughts, also called suicidal ideation, can come in more than one form. It can be active thoughts where individuals have specific thoughts about suicide and active plans to take their own lives.

However, they can also come in passive suicidal thoughts with less defined plans. While there may not be a specific plan in place, an individual with passive suicidal thoughts may:

  • Have repeated thoughts about dying and death.
  • Have thought about different ways to die.
  • Believe that they don’t deserve to live.
  • Wish that they could stop living.

Whether suicidal thoughts are active or passive, persistent thoughts about death leave individuals hopeless and unsure where to go for help.

How Common are Suicidal Thoughts?

If you or a loved one has suicidal thoughts, you’re not alone. According to the CDC, 12 million American adults thought about suicide in 2019 (the latest data available), with 3.5 million planned suicide attempts and 1.4 million attempted suicides.1

Suicidal feelings affect all different age groups, professions, and genders. It’s the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10-34, the fourth leading cause of death among people between 35-44, and the fifth leading cause of death between 45-54.

Signs and Symptoms of Suicidal Thoughts

Many people worry that asking a loved one who’s concerned if they have suicidal feelings may put the idea in their head. However, research shows that asking about suicidal thoughts won’t increase the likelihood of thoughts. It could even do the opposite: asking shows that you’re supportive and that someone else cares about their wellbeing.2

Common suicidal thoughts signs that someone may be thinking about death include:

  • Stating that they feel like a burden to you or making you miserable.
  • Isolating themselves and avoiding people they usually want to see.
  • Giving away belongings.
  • Sleeping more than usual.
  • Appearing calm after a period of intense distress.
  • Mentioning that they feel guilt or hopeless.
  • Participating in risky behavior, such as driving recklessly or using substances unsafely.

Suicidal Thoughts Causes and Risk Factors

There are several causes for suicidal thoughts. These thoughts may be the result of life circumstances, genetics, hormones (such as postpartum), or substance use.

They can also be a symptom of a mental health condition, such as major depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and PTSD.

While anyone can be at risk for suicidal ideation, certain risk factors may cause suicidal thoughts:

  • Knowing someone that died by suicide.
  • Undergoing significant life stress, such as divorce, financial difficulties, loss of a loved one, or legal problems.
  • Experiencing chronic pain.
  • Undergoing chronic or life-threatening health conditions, such as cancer.
  • Experiencing isolation or bullying.
  • Undergoing family or relationship abuse.
  • Having weapons at home.
  • Attempting suicide previously.

How to Deal with Active Suicidal Thoughts

If you’re experiencing active suicidal thoughts, here are some immediate measures you can take.3

Just Get Through the Day

It can be overwhelming to think of the next week, month, or year. Instead, concentrate on the day in front of you and how you can get through it. Sudden suicidal thoughts will pass, so it’s critical to focus only on the moment in front of you.

Speak With a Loved One

A trusted friend or family member can provide the moral support you need and help you stay safe.

Speak To a Professional

Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you’re unsure where to turn, a crisis counselor is an excellent place to start. They can listen without judgment and offer practical guidance on how you can reach out.

Go Somewhere Safe

Find a place that will make it easier to avoid acting on your thoughts. For example, a friend’s house, a public space (such as a library, coffee shop, or museum), even just a different room in your home will help you stay safe.

Do an Activity That You Enjoy That Takes Your Mind Off of Your Thoughts

Do a short exercise, go on a walk, try box breathing or 4-7-8 breathing, or other grounding techniques that can help you stay present in the moment instead of being overwhelmed in your thoughts.

Also, try to find an activity that helps you keep your mind off your suicidal thoughts. Listen to music, eat your favorite meal, look at photos, or watch videos of animals and people you love. These will all help you feel calmer in the moment.

Get Rid of Weapons

It’s critical to stay away from any possible methods of suicide, such as weapons or mediation. Have a loved one help you remove these items and stay with you.

How to Deal with Passive Suicidal Thoughts?

Suicidal Thoughts
For those having passive thoughts of suicide, here are some tips for dealing with your thoughts:

Do the Opposite of Your Feelings

Your feelings can be overwhelming, but it’s critical to act despite your feelings.

For example, people who are depressed often isolate themselves and don’t want to have contact with anyone. Instead, reach out to a friend or loved one despite your feelings.

Get Treatment for Mental Health

Although speaking with a doctor is a critical first step, it’s not enough. Ask your doctors for referrals or contact a specialist here at Blueprints Recovery to get treatment for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. A mental health specialist, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, has the training and expertise to treat suicidal thoughts specifically.

Practice Self-Care

The concept of “self-care” has been hijacked by social media and brings images of bubble baths and face masks. However, self-care isn’t so much about luxury but instead taking care of yourself in a way that will have you feeling better.

For example, making yourself a (simple) healthy meal, getting in some light movement, taking your medication, and going to bed slightly earlier are all necessary acts of self-care.

Take Prescribed Medication

Many people feel like they don’t need medication when they start to feel better. However, they often feel better because of the medication. Take medicines as prescribed by a doctor. If you think the medication isn’t working or has side effects, speak with your medical provider.

Create Structure and Routine

Stick to a regular routine as much as you can. A routine can provide you the structure and control even if your feelings or life seem out of control.

The key to keeping a routine is to start with one part of your life and expand from there. Start with small steps. For example, before setting up a regular waking up time, begin by setting a time that you shut down all devices to make going to sleep easier.

Some things that you might want to create a routine for include:

  • A set bedtime.
  • A regular wake-up time.
  • A time for work or school.
  • Planned activities throughout the day, such as working out or practicing a hobby.

Find Enjoyable Activities

Depression often causes individuals to lose joy in the hobbies they once loved. Think of what you once enjoyed doing and make it a habit to do them even if they no longer bring you the same joy or fulfillment. It can help provide a break from suicidal thoughts, even if only for a little while.

Create a Crisis Plan

Research shows that safety planning can help individuals stay safe in an acute crisis. Your safety plan should include a list of known triggers and early signs of suicidal ideation. Also, list coping tips that work for you and contact information of professionals and loved ones you can turn to for support.

How to Stop Suicidal Thoughts?

While coping mechanisms can help at the moment, they don’t usually resolve the underlying causes of these thoughts. However, there are suicidal thoughts treatments available.


Until you do the work to identify and address the concerns leading to suicidal ideation, they’ll likely return. However, you don’t have to go through the process alone. A trained mental health professional can provide powerful counseling for suicidal thoughts to help you get lasting relief. Suicidal thoughts therapy will help you overcome the triggers and thoughts to improve your life.

Therapy for suicidal thoughts can help you:

  • Develop your safety plan.
  • Find ways to share your thoughts with family and loved ones.
  • Build new coping skills for unwanted thoughts.
  • Discuss possible solutions for overwhelming life challenges.
  • Find critical triggers or causes of suicidal thoughts, such as signs of mental health conditions.

Helpful therapy for suicidal thoughts includes cognitive-behavioral therapy or dialectical behavior therapy.


There is no one best medication for suicidal thoughts. However, if you have other underlying mental health conditions, such as depression, antidepressants can help.

In isolated cases, some antidepressants increase the risk of suicidal ideation, especially when first taking them. If you have sudden thoughts of suicide, call your prescribing clinician right away and keep taking the medication. Stopping suddenly can make unwanted thoughts worse.

Where to Get Help for Suicidal Thoughts?

Our therapists at The PAC Program can help. Their experience and expertise can help you in overcoming suicidal thoughts. Overcoming suicidal thoughts is possible but requires professional help. We can assist you in your journey to wholeness, so contact us today.


If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
623-523-4748 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

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