What Does It Feel Like To Be Suicidal?

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Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

One of the questions I get the most often is; “What does it feel like to be suicidal?”

I think people are trying to understand why I would want to kill myself, not once, but twice in my life. I’ve never had a good answer for anyone with that question. But I’m going to give it a shot anyway, because I want people to understand.

The first thing you should know about people who are suicidal, is that they feel that way for their own reasons, and my reasons won’t necessarily be the same as some other person’s. Don’t ever try to tell someone why they are suicidal, or to tell them “I know how you feel” unless you really have been there. There is nothing that inspires contempt in me more than when someone tells me “I been there, man. Depression sucks.” No. Depression might suck, but being suicidal has nothing to do with depression. They are two totally different things. But I digress.

When I’m suicidal, I feel like I don’t matter to anyone. It’s not that I don’t think people care. I just feel like their lives wouldn’t be changed by my death. It makes it very hard to find reasons not to die, because I feel like it doesn’t matter one way or the other.

I often will think of odd things, like; I wonder how it would feel to cut the end of my finger, or what the viscosity of my eyeball is would it actually hurt to put a blade in it? (Thank you to my friend who shared that you sometimes feels this way… you make me feel so much less alone.) I have to remind myself that it would hurt those around me more than it would hurt me. I have to rationalize not hurting myself, when my whole brain is telling me that I should hurt myself.

The worst feeling is when I realize that I don’t care who finds me. I don’t care who is hurt,  or affected. I can’t believe myself when I rationalize that the kids will be alright if I’m gone, or that it won’t hurt them to find me in the bathroom dead. Those things are never okay. But I think them anyway. I have to nearly physically jerk myself away from those thoughts.

The most insidious part is the anxiety. For once I don’t have anxiety that I will get hurt. My anxiety doesn’t focus on keeping me safe. No, instead it turns me into this quivering mess that thinks that I’m nothing but a burden on the people around me. I’m a walking drain on society, and on those that love me. I’m alone, because how could anybody follow me on such a dark path. How could anyone understand how much I loath myself? How could anyone understand that no matter what I do, I will never feel like I’m good enough to continue sharing air with the wonderful people who inspire me so much. The anxiety takes its toll on me in a way that would make the average poor self image run away in terror.

Then I start torturing myself. I obsess over all the people who would be hurt by my death. Those special people who have taken me into their families, who have taken me under their wings. Those people who trust me to take care of myself, and to be as good a friend to them as they are to me. I repeat lists of names. I pound them into my skull so forcefully that I give myself headaches. When I forget a name, I hold it against myself so violently that I might as well be smashing my hand with a hammer for the amount of pain it causes me.

I dream of physical pain. I need a release. I know that if I’m in physical pain, then I will at least have a reason to feel hurt. What excuse do I have to feel in pain now?! How dare I feel miserable when there are people in the world dying because they don’t have clean water, food, shelter. I’m not alone, so how dare I leave my loved ones feeling alone?! I hate myself more every minute, and cannot believe that I am still breathing, sucking the very oxygen that could be innervating some baby somewhere.

I obsess. I plan. I decide on the top 5 most efficient ways to die. Then I obsess some more. I plan some more. I think about how I could die without anyone I know finding me. Then I remember how many people have told me they would have no closure if they thought I just left. I know that people need to mourn, to grieve. People need to know that their loved ones lived full lives, and that they died happy. Not one person would get that if I killed myself. Like my father, people all over the country would cry out, not understanding that I just couldn’t find a way out.

I understand why my father is dead. It’s not because he was weak. It’s because his burden was so great he just had to set it down. He just didn’t know that someone else would pick it up. I sometimes think that I would be relieving the world of a burden if I died, but I remember my father, and know that I would do nothing but leave that burden on someone else.

There is so much more to say. I don’t think I could ever put it all into words. I will try again, another time. I love you all. Have a pleasant Spring.

Trying to help yourself or a loved one? Try reading Choosing to Live.

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13 thoughts on “What Does It Feel Like To Be Suicidal?

  1. Pati Cook

    Thank you for putting into words, and letting others read them, what some of the rest of us go/have gone through.
    Suicidal thoughts and attempts can come from or with depression, but you are right about them being different things. Having both I do understand.

    Reply
  2. Amy Purdy

    Perfectly written. Thank you for explaining in ways I have yet to find words to. I sat nodding my head and crying as I read these words, because (again, like so many times in my life) the past couple of weeks have been filled with those exact feelings, those “rationalizations” that I would actually be doing my family a favor if I was gone. I have fought it, and I will continue to fight it. I have to remember my kids no matter what. I do NOT want to put them through that. It’s just so hard to remember that in the moment, but god how I try.

    Reply
    1. Rory Post author

      I hope you know I’m supporting you in spirit. I know EXACTLY how hard it is. You are right, you always have to remember your kids. But you also have to remember to live for your own sake, too. I know it may seem selfish, because it is, but in a healthy way. Love yourself, and remember that you are not alone.

      Reply
  3. neveryoumind

    Thanks. This is just how I feel. Scariest of all to me is when I click over from depressed to suicidal. These thoughts are a constant background noise but sometimes it’s like a switch flips and I just know it’s best to end it. It gets so bad in the winter and no one realizes what it’s like. At least not the people who claim to love me, the people who have been so annoyed when I tried to seek help from them. I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut about it and now things are even worse.

    I’m sorry, I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do with all this.

    Thank you for the post, though.

    Reply
    1. Rory Post author

      Don’t be sorry. I often don’t know what I’m supposed to do either. It’s all a big journey of figuring it out. The thing that helped me, was to draw lines. See my upcoming post about asking for help, if you want some guidelines.
      ~Rory

      Reply
  4. Broken in BC

    Thank you
    I lost someone I loved to suicide this summer, don’t ever give in.
    Your words resonate, I was holding my breath as I read them.

    I can’t pretend to know how it feels, but the pain doesn’t end with suicide, it gets shared our amongst the ones left behind.
    If what I’ve felt since his death is only a fraction of the pain he was in I can almost understand the choice he made, and how strong he must have been to fight it for so long.
    Chose life
    Xx

    Reply
  5. Jessica

    I just want to thank you so much for writing this all down (or typing). I’ve felt suicidal for years and some days were worse then other. One minute I am terrified of death an what it would be like an how my mother would feel and then the next it feel like it would be so easy. I stop caring and for the past 2 months the urges to do it have gotten about 50 times worse then what they ever were. I barely sleep any more, maybe 5 times a month and most of the time I wouldn’t even call that sleep and I also noticed that the closer I get the more silent I become. I used to try to talk to my online friends (I do not have friends in real life and never have due to extreme anxiety and a pretty traumatic experience which led me to drop out of school at 13 years of age) I use to try to talk to my online friends and boyfriend until my boyfriend got angry at me for just having a panic attack. It was like he thought it was something that i could just turn off if i wanted to and I couldn’t so I stopped talking and the more intense the suicidal urges and thoughts became the more I closed myself up. I do feel pathetic and selfish and its not that I want to die but I feel like I have to and at the moment living for my boyfriend that constantly insults and and a mother who constantly uses me for my money and uses her mental disorders as an excuse for everything just is not enough any more.. I don’t want to have to live for them and I know how selfish that sounds. but ye….. Thank you for writing that because is made me feel like I wasn’t the only one fighting this and if you are still fighting then I can still keep fighting. (that sounds selfish too probably.. sorry if it does)

    Reply
    1. Rory Post author

      I’m so glad my post helped you! Trust me, staying alive is just as selfish as some people believe suicide can be. But it’s the *right* kind of selfish. The kind that keeps you alive. The kind that keeps you whole. It makes you stronger. I fight, because I’m not alone, and I’m completely comfortable with you doing the same with me. All the love in the world, Jessica. We will both keep going.

      Reply
    2. Jenny Williams

      You aren’t alone, Jessica, and there are many who will be there for you, often complete strangers. If your boyfriend is constantly insulting you, it doesn’t sound like he is the best support. It sounds like your mother isn’t a great help either. Reach out to others in the mental health and anxiety communities. You will find even more people who understand, who have been there, or who love someone who has. Don’t give up. Make it one day at a time if you have to. You are worth it. You matter. You are important. You will shine. Truly.

      Reply
  6. Heidi Ellen Whurr

    Oh my gosh, your post is so incredibly moving. I do not feel like this, but I want to understand it, not so I can say what you put at the beginning (Yeah man depression sucks…) kind of thing, but just so that I can help my friends who feel like this as I know some that do. I never understood and I feel so helpless to know what its like for them. They cannot get me I cannot get them, but I think you have enlightened me.

    I thank you, if you write anymore posts like this I should like to read them, so please let me know.

    H

    Reply

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