Suicidal Thoughts aren’t About Death

I’ve had some stress over the past few days that has triggered my very familiar cycle of suicidal thoughts. In my last post I discussed negative self talk, and this ties in with my suicidal cycle.

Let me first say that I am not going to kill myself.

When I have episodes such as these, I work through them by determining why I’m having the episode and going from there. I know what the stressor is. Now I’m going through the steps of determining how this particular stressor triggered this particular set of thoughts. Let’s start with the thoughts that I have:

  • I am horrible partner because I am not healthy and I am often grumpy. Basically, I’m not fun anymore, so why should my husband want to be around me?
  • I make everyone around me miserable and contribute nothing positive to my family, society, or the world
  • I am a bad person because I can’t control my negative thoughts
  • I don’t deserve to be loved
  • I don’t deserve to be helped
  • I hurt so much and I am so terrible that dying is the only option
  • I am so tired of being in pain
  • My family will be better off without the burden of caring for me

Obviously, those thoughts aren’t true. I know they aren’t true. I know they aren’t true when I’m reading them right now, and I know they aren’t true when I’m sobbing and telling my husband these things. I recognize that this is a chemical spiral that happens when I am overwhelmed. It’s similar to my autistic meltdowns. Once that emotional train leaves the station, I’m just a passenger looking out the window at the very ugly scenery.

My next step in working through these thoughts is to think about the science. How are suicidal thoughts triggered? Breaking things down into their biological components not only makes it easier for me to cope and mentally stabilize, but I occasionally learn something and then feel the urge to write about what I have learned. Doing that gives me purpose and makes me feel productive. That crosses off one of those negative thoughts listed above. Science!

But today when I searched the following phrase in Google, “triggered suicidal thoughts,” an alarming trend became apparent. Information about suicide and suicidal thoughts treats people who have these thoughts as if they are single-minded. The recurrent theme? They see death as the only option.

Correction, we see death as the only option. Below is the first paragraph from the first article that came up in my Google search:

“In overly simplistic terms, suicidal thoughts and behaviors start when vulnerable individuals encounter stressful events, become overwhelmed, and conclude that suicide is the only reasonable way (given their very likely biased way of thinking) to stop the pain they are experiencing.” – NATALIE STAATS REISS, PH.D., AND MARK DOMBECK, PH.D. via Suicide Triggers – Suicide, Depression, Anxiety Disorders

Right out of the gates these Ph.D.s state that, “suicide is the only reasonable way… to stop the pain,” and that people who are suicidal have a, “very likely biased way of thinking.” As someone with both emotional and physical pain I can tell you that I don’t view suicide as reasonable. Even when I’m calm and I’ve decided that death is a welcome solution, the process isn’t PAIN PAIN PAIN – WELL MIGHT AS WELL END IT. And my thinking isn’t biased, it’s twisted, it’s skewed, it’s chemically altered by the things that make one feel depression and guilt and despair.

Being told by psychological professionals that I think that death is the only solution doesn’t make me feel better. It makes me feel worse. And it makes me feel stupid. Apparently, I am so misguided in my thinking that I just believe suicide will solve it all and I can’t see anything else. No. Not at all. It’s more complicated than that, and it would be really nice to feel more respected. If this article were written with an audience of suicidal people and non-suicidal people alike in mind instead of just to a non-suicidal audience, it wouldn’t sound so condescending.

However, that is merely one article and one set of authors. Surely in my search for answers about how suicidal thoughts are triggered I would be able to find a credible source. I turned to the second search result, Mayo Clinic. Here is what Mayo Clinic has to say about suicidal thoughts:

“Suicidal thoughts have many causes. Most often, suicidal thoughts are the result of feeling like you can’t cope when you’re faced with what seems to be an overwhelming life situation. If you don’t have hope for the future, you may mistakenly think suicide is a solution.” via Suicide and suicidal thoughts Causes – Mayo Clinic.

Yes! Information I could use! I do feel overwhelmed! I don’t have hope for the future! I do list suicide as a solution… but then Mayo Clinic went on to say this:

“You may experience a sort of tunnel vision, where in the middle of a crisis you believe suicide is the only way out.” via Suicide and suicidal thoughts Causes – Mayo Clinic.

Tunnel vision. I, the suicidal person, might experience tunnel vision in which I think death is the only answer. I don’t disagree that I become focused on the idea that I don’t want to go on. But it’s not a desire to be dead.

It’s a desire to not be alive.

I know those sound very much like the same thing, but they aren’t. Biologically, our bodies want to live. Psychologically, our minds want painful things to stop. Suicide is an acute desire for pain in any form to stop permanently. Death becomes involved because the only true way to stop any physiological or psychological process is to stop living. I don’t want to be dead. I don’t want to die. I don’t want my family to grieve.

I want to stop hurting. I want to stop being a burden on my family. I want to stop making the people I love miserable. I want to stop existing. If there were a way to do any of that without ending my life, surely I’d be on board. But there isn’t.

I staunchly state that my suicidal thoughts are not about death, they are about not being able to cope with the things that are happening in my life, so I want that life to stop. I believe that it’s demeaning to essentially say that someone who is suicidal can’t cope so they decided to die.

A person who is suicidal can’t cope, so they decided to stop trying to cope.

If we change the way that we view suicide, we can change how suicidal people are treated by professionals and their family. Suicide is not stupid or selfish or weak. Suicide is about hopelessness. And that’s stating it simply.

Therefore, I am left to deal with my negative thoughts myself. I shall treat my physical pain as best I can, and I shall try to convince myself that the negative thoughts I have are not true by engaging in encouraging self talk.

Need help? United States:

1 (800) 273-8255 FREE

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline



5 thoughts on “Suicidal Thoughts aren’t About Death

  1. I once had someone I consider a close friend say that “people who commit suicide are weak”. I’ve never told her about my suicide attempts and I never will. Here statement surprised me because she was a healthcare professional for many years, but at the same time I understood the cultural and societal biases that fed her beliefs.
    The times I have have felt suicidal or actually attempted to take my life were times when I felt hopeless and there was nothing and no one who could help to stop the emotional and psychological pain I felt — pain I wanted to end.
    Like you, I didn’t want to die, I just didn’t believe there was any other way to stop the incredible pain I was feeling. I shouldn’t be, but I’m surprised by the opinions in the current literature you found in your brief search. I can only hope that you find something to help you through this period of heightened hopelessness so you can feel some joy in living.


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