• Consumer Health: When suicidal thoughts seem overwhelming

a middle aged woman holding a tissue looking worries, sad, concerned or frightened

World Suicide Prevention Day will be observed Saturday, Sept. 10, which makes this a good time to learn more about suicide, suicidal thoughts and how to get help.

Suicide affects people of all ages and is a leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Suicide is a tragic reaction to stressful life situations. Most often, suicidal thoughts are the result of feeling helpless or unable to cope with what seems like an overwhelming life situation. Without hope for the future, suicide may seem like the only solution. There also may be a genetic link to suicide, as people who die by suicide, or have suicidal thoughts or behavior, are more likely to have a family history of suicide.

Warning signs aren't always obvious, and they can vary from person to person. Some people make their intentions clear, while others keep suicidal thoughts and feelings secret.

Are you thinking about suicide? When life doesn't seem worth living anymore, it may seem that the only way to find relief is through suicide. When you're feeling this way, it may be hard to believe, but you have other options.

Available help

Don't try to manage suicidal thoughts or behavior on your own. You need professional help and support to overcome the problems linked to suicidal thinking.

If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, get help right away by taking one of these actions:

  • Call your mental health specialist.
  • Call a suicide hotline number.
    • In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 24/7. Or use Lifeline Chat. Services are free and confidential.
    • U.S. veterans or service members who are in crisis can call 988 and press “1” for the Veterans Crisis Line, text 838255 or chat online.
    • The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline in the U.S. also has a Spanish-language phone line at 888-628-9454.
  • Call 911 or your local emergency number.
  • Seek help from your health care professional.
  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
  • Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone else in your faith community.

Helping others

If you think someone else is considering suicide, taking action is always the best choice. When people say they are thinking about suicide or act as though they may be considering harming themselves, it can be upsetting. You may not be sure what to do to help. You may wonder whether you should take them seriously or if you might make the situation worse. While you're not responsible for preventing someone from taking his or her own life, your intervention may help the person see that other options are available to stay safe and get treatment.

Connect with others in the Depression & AnxietyMental Health and Just Want to Talk groups on Mayo Clinic Connect, an online patient community moderated by Mayo Clinic

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