Thinking about suicide

Thoughts about suicide can reflect the intense pain and sense of desperation that depression can bring. Having the thoughts can also in itself bring much pain and anguish. Having these thoughts does not mean you should act on them!

A sign of pain

It is important to be aware that thoughts about suicide can be quite common – one way in which the mind tests out feelings. Having suicidal thoughts does not mean you are doomed to act on them! Many people deeply regret an attempted suicide once they have moved on from depression.

Bottom of the depression habit spiral

A series of many little things can contribute to a depression habit spiral which leads downward to suicidal thinking.

Depressed thinking habits bring about a narrowed perspective which significantly clouds one’s judgment. This tunnel vision reduces the ability to find complex, rather than all-or-nothing, solutions to problems. Suicide has been spoken of as ‘a permanent solution to a temporary problem’. When people look back on periods of suicidal thinking they recognise the options and perspectives that they just couldn’t see at the time.

Ultimate form of depressed thinking

The issue of suicide can be hotly debated. Some argue that suicide is a result of depression and should always be treated; others argue that the freedom to choose is everyone’s right, but…

Someone affected by depression is usually not in a position to make a free and unbiased decision about suicide. Thinking about suicide is the ultimate all-or-nothing thinking habit – the idea that only total relief will provide any relief from the painful despair depression brings…

A habit needing challenging

You can learn how to ride out your suicidal thoughts, reduce their frequency and eventually stop them bothering you. Surviving suicidal thoughts means challenging and resisting them, just like other habits of depressed thinking. Sometimes, making sense of suicide also requires a critical evaluation of some of the social and cultural influences on our thinking. See the ‘Debating depression’ section for more on this.

Next: Making sense of suicide

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Depressed thinking
Changing your thinking
Debating depression