The Darkness before Dawn: Understanding the Suicidal Urge
Suicidal feelings are painful but normal responses to deep pain and deep trouble — and people survive their suicidal urges every day, and go on to live and thrive.
If you or anyone you know feels suicidal, there are some excellent free resources that can help.
First, here in the US, you can contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 to chat or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Suicidal feelings can be very isolating, and this lifeline exists to give people the support they need to make it through the despairing periods in their lives. If you or anyone you know is feeling suicidal, please let them know that help is available.
The 988 lifeline is available in the US; if you’re in another country, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has a list of crisis centers and suicide prevention centers throughout the world.
Looking at suicidal urges empathically
Suicidal feelings have a range from soft to intense, but if you’re feeling any level of suicidal urges right now, don’t feel as if you have to wait until you’re in the throes of torment to reach out for help.
If you can learn to catch your suicidal urges when they’re in the soft stage, you can often stop yourself from falling into the pit of desperation and torment. This post on working with depression may be helpful.
In the territory of the suicidal urge, your capacity for emotional awareness and articulation can literally save your life!
Here is some vocabulary that may help you catch your suicidal urges before they become very intense. This list below is a part of the free Emotional Vocabulary List that you can download for free on my site.
Soft Depression and Suicidal Urges
Apathetic ~ Discouraged ~ Disinterested ~ Dispirited ~ Downtrodden ~ Fed Up ~ Feeling Worthless ~ Flat ~ Helpless ~ Humorless ~ Impulsive ~ Indifferent ~ Isolated ~ Lethargic ~ Listless ~ Pessimistic ~ Practical ~ Purposeless ~ Realistic ~ Resolute ~ Tired ~ Withdrawn ~ World-Weary
Medium Depression and Suicidal Urges
Bereft ~ Certain ~ Constantly Irritated, Angry, or Enraged (see the Anger list above) ~ Crushed ~ Depressed ~ Desolate ~ Desperate ~ Drained ~ Emancipated ~ Empty ~ Fatalistic ~ Gloomy ~ Hibernating ~ Hopeless ~ Immobile ~ Inactive ~ Inward-Focused ~ Joyless ~ Miserable ~ Morbid ~ Overwhelmed ~ Passionless ~ Pleasureless ~ Sullen
Intense Depression and Suicidal Urges
Agonized ~ Anguished ~ Bleak ~ Death-Seeking ~ Devastated ~ Doomed ~ Freed ~ Frozen ~ Gutted Liberated ~ Nihilistic ~ Numbed ~ Reborn ~ Reckless ~ Self-Destructive ~ Suicidal ~ Tormented ~ Tortured ~ Transformed
Please remember: when people are feeling suicidal, they’re not having a simple happiness deficiency or exhibiting a character flaw. Something very serious is going on.
In this video, I talk about the important messages inside the suicidal urge.
If you don’t know what to do when someone you care about is feeling suicidal, you can text or call the 988 Lifeline as a concerned friend (text 988 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)), and they’ll help you understand what to do.
Here are some ideas from the 988 Lifeline website:
How To Be Helpful to Someone Who Is Threatening Suicide
- Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
- Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
- Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
- Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
- Don’t dare him or her to do it.
- Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
- Offer hope that alternatives are available, but do not offer glib reassurance.
- Take action. Remove means, like weapons or pills.
- Get help from people or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
Thank you for helping when people are feeling suicidal. Thank you for your emotional fluency and your willingness to reach out when others are in need. You make a difference.
Talk about suicide and let people know you’ll listen
Suicidal feelings can affect anyone, from kids to elders. Let your friends and family know that you’re willing to talk about suicide; you may save someone’s life, certainly, but you’ll also make life easier and less awful for people who are suffering.
Thank you for making the world more empathic and compassionate.
May we all find peace and healing; may we all find ways to reduce suffering in the world.