Suicidal Thoughts: How to Overcome Destructive Thinking

If you find yourself preoccupied by suicidal thoughts, the first thing to remember is that you are not alone.  Many people have considered ending their lives at some painful point of their lives; the thoughts themselves are not as much of a problem, it’s the action, the self-destructive behavior that is the real danger.  So, consider suicidal thoughts a warning that your mind is giving you: you are in considerable amount of pain.  You may feel intense feelings of despair and hopelessness because it seems to you that you had lost control over your life and that things could never get better. You may feel that the only part where you still had some control in your life is whether you lived or died, and committing suicide seemed like the only option left.

However, this is never true. Statistics show that the majority of people who have attempted suicide and survived, ultimately felt relieved that they did not end their lives. Again, the suicidal thoughts are just an indication that you are in pain; however, hope and help is always on the way. Remember that however bad you are feeling, you have not always felt this way and your feelings will change in the future.  That’s the whole trick: feelings are changeable, you may feel differently at different points of the same day; however, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

So, let’s work together to learn how to overcome suicidal thoughts.  It’s a challenging task, but nonetheless doable.  Below are some suggestions:

1.      Become Aware of having Suicidal Thoughts.

Some of the thoughts that may accompany suicidal thoughts include:
• I want to escape my suffering.
• I have no other options.
• I am a horrible person and do not deserve to live.
• I have betrayed my loved ones.
• My loved ones would be better off without me.
• I want my loved ones to know how bad I am feeling.
• I want my loved ones to know how bad they have made me feel.

2.      Remove the Means to Commit Suicide

 For example, give pills and sharp objects to someone for safekeeping, or put them in a locked or otherwise inaccessible place.

 3.      Remove the Opportunity to Commit Suicide

 The surest way of doing this is by remaining in close contact with one or more people, for example, by inviting them to stay with you. Share your thoughts and feelings with these people, and don’t be reluctant to let them help you. If no one is available or no one seems suitable, there are a number of emergency telephone lines that you can ring at any time. You can even ring for an ambulance or take yourself to an Emergency Room.

4.      Do Not Use Alcohol or Drugs

 Alcohol or drugs can make your behavior more impulsive and, thereby, significantly increase your likelihood of attempting suicide. In particular, do not drink or take drugs alone, or end up alone after drinking or taking drugs.

5.      Practice Self-Care

 This is a time to take extra good care of yourself.  Make sure you eat regularly, sleep, get some fresh air and avoid people or situations that bring you stress.  Remember that something as simple as getting a few nights of good sleep can give you a different perspective on your situation.

 6.      Identify what’s Important to You in Life

Make a list of the things that have so far prevented you from committing suicide, e.g., “My kids need me”, “My parents rely on me to take care of them,” “What I’m doing at my job is important,” etc.  Keep the lists on you, and read them to yourself each time you are overwhelmed by suicidal thoughts.

7.      Create a list of Positive Things

 Create a list of positive things about yourself, maybe your skills, or personality traits. Then make a list of the things you are grateful for in life, e.g., your health, your family, your job, your opportunities in life.  Keep that list on you and read it when you have suicidal thoughts.

 8.      Find a Good Cause to Fight for or Contribute to

Not money – anybody can give money to a charitable cause. Give your time. Help the needy and less fortunate. There are many people who need your help – you just have to go out and give it. And in the process, it’s very likely that you will find yourself feeling much better. Helping others is one of the very best ways to cope with thoughts of harming yourself, because it allows you to focus on something beyond yourself and your troubles.  It creates a very big feeling of warmth and generosity in your heart – it will be a welcome change after feeling empty and cold for such a long time. And feeling necessary can really help your outlook long term, too.

    • Go to a local church/ temple and volunteer to help in their “feed the hungry” program
    • Go to a local food bank and offer to help
    • Go to a battered women or children’s center and volunteer.

9.      Create a Safety Plan

 Make a plan of action steps you commit to doing to prevent yourself from self-destructive behaviors.  The plan should include people you can call, emergency phone numbers, delaying suicide for at least 48 hours and getting some sleep. 

Example of a Safety Plan

1. Read through the list of positive things about myself.
2. Read through the list of positive things about my life and remind myself of the things that have so far prevented me from committing suicide.
3. Distract myself from suicidal thoughts by reading a book, listening to my favorite music, or watching my favorite film or comedy.
4. Get a good night’s sleep. Take a sleeping tablet if necessary.
5. Delay any suicidal attempt by at least 48 hours.
6. Call “Stan” on (phone number). If he is unreachable, call “Julia” on (phone number). Alternatively, call my healthcare professional on (phone number), or the crisis line on (phone number).
7. Go to a place where I feel safe such as the community center or the sports center.
8. Go to the Emergency Room.
9. Call for an ambulance.

Finally, when the crisis settles, see a therapist who specializes in the treatment of depression.  It is important that you address the cause of your suicidal thoughts, for example, a mental disorder such as depression or alcohol dependence, a difficult life situation, or painful memories.  Discuss this with your therapist or a primary care physician, who will help you to identify the most appropriate form of help available.

If you would like help with overcoming suicidal thoughts, please call me, Dr. Maya, on (818) 809-9519 for a free 10-minute phone consultation.




  1. Very nice

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  3. Very good article. I will be going through a few of these issues as well..

  4. You’re so interesting! I do not think I’ve read anything like that before.
    So wonderful to discover somebody with genuine thoughts on this issue.
    Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This web site is one
    thing that is required on the web, someone with a bit of originality!

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