Having a better understanding of the causes of our suicidal thoughts leads to being better equipped to manage those feelings and get the help we need.

Some problems and experiences, especially those that have been around for a long time, can leave you feeling hopeless and overwhelmed. At these times, you may think that you have no options left. You may think about suicide as a way to escape intense emotional pain. There are many potential causes of suicidal thoughts and it can be helpful to better understand your suicidal thoughts in order to work toward managing and preventing them.

People who consider suicide as an option often think that their problems are unbearable and can’t be fixed. They feel like nothing they have tried has or will change their situation. Their emotional pain can distort thinking so it becomes harder to trust, or to see possible solutions to problems, or to connect with available love and support.

Even if it seems that you can’t stand another minute, it is important to remember that feelings (e.g., grief, anger, sadness, loneliness, shame), especially at this intense level, don’t last forever. Sometimes thoughts of suicide can become very strong, especially if you have taken drugs or alcohol. It is important to not use nonprescription drugs or alcohol, particularly when you feel hopeless or are thinking about suicide.

Some of the thoughts you may be having are:

  • Believing there are no other options.
  • Sensing your family or friends would be better off without you.
  • Thinking you’ve done something so horrible that suicide is the only option.
  • Wanting to let your loved ones know how much you hurt.
  • Experiencing unbearable pain that feels like it will go on forever.
  • Wanting to escape your suffering.
  • Wanting to hurt or get revenge on others.

Your feelings of pain are very real. However, it is important to know that there is hope. With the help of professionals and the support of family and friends, you can learn about what is causing your suffering and how you can change or manage it.

Hurting or killing yourself are not your only options. Professionals can help you learn new skills for dealing with your pain. These might include: developing new skills to cope; seeing your problems in a new light; improving your ability to handle intense and painful emotions; improving your relationships; increasing your social supports; or medications.

Some Causes of Suicidal Thoughts:

1 Mental health problems:

Some mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety, can increase feelings of suicide. Mental health problems are treatable. It is important to talk to your doctor if you feel low, depressed, or anxious. Counselling or medication may help, consider signing up for a free consultation with Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych. & Associates. There are also resources that can help and are available for free on her website.

2 Conflict with loved ones:

You may feel family or friends would be better off without you. It’s important to remember that conflict with others doesn’t last forever. Ending your life is not a way to solve that conflict. We know that people who lose a loved one to suicide say that their lives are not better off.

3 Loss:

Many different types of loss can increase the chances of feeling suicidal. Some examples include: a break-up; losing a job; losing social status; or losing a loved one or friend. Also, knowing someone who has died by suicide can increase the chance of thinking of suicide as an option. As difficult as your loss may seem, there are people and services that can help you get through difficult times, such as Griefworks BC (1-877-234-3322).

4 Medical problems:

Medical problems such as diabetes, thyroid problems, chronic pain, or multiple sclerosis can increase chances that you may think about suicide. Make sure you have proper medical care for health problems. Some medications can increase feelings of suicide. It is important to speak to your doctor about this. You can also get information by calling the BC Nurse Line (8-1-1) or the Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions program (1-877-240-3941).

5 Sexual identity issues:

People who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender may have a higher risk of suicide. Confusion about sexual identity and fears of possible or real rejection from family or friends can make things worse. There is support available. Prideline (1-800-566-1170) is peer support and information phone line. Prideline is open 7 days a week, from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

6 Financial/legal problems:

Financial or legal problems, such as overwhelming debt, gambling problems, or problems with the law, can be very stressful. It is important to know there may be free services that can help you deal with financial or legal problems. These include the Credit Counselling Society (1-888-527-8999), the Problem Gambling Help Line (1-888-795-6111), or the Legal Services Society (1-866-577-2525).

7 Lack of connection to friends and others:

Thoughts of suicide can increase if you spend a lot of time alone, or don’t feel you can tell anyone your problems. Talk to someone, like a professional, about ways you can increase social support in your life. You may feel the people that are in your life don’t understand the pain you are feeling. Talk to a professional about ways that you can let others know of the pain and unhappiness you are feeling. The Social Supports wellness module at www.heretohelp.bc.ca gives ideas for how to improve your social supports.

8 Drug and alcohol problems:

Using alcohol or drugs can make feelings of depression, anxiety, and thoughts about suicide worse. Drugs and alcohol can change the way you think about problems in your life. If drugs or alcohol are causing your problems, you can get information on treatment from the BC Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service (1-800-663-1441).

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many potential causes of suicidal thoughts. These thoughts are normal and even though they seem unbearable at the moment they aren’t going to last forever and there is support available. Understanding your suicidal thoughts not only makes it easier to manage these feelings but also makes it easier to ask for help.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with suicide ideation, check out our Coping with Suicidal Thoughts at DrJotiSamra.com for more resources, information, support, and practical steps to help cope with suicidality. If you or someone you love is at immediate risk reach out to 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) for 24-hour support.