Causes of suicidal feelings

Why do I feel suicidal?

If you are feeling suicidal it is likely that you have been experiencing a growing sense of hopelessness and worthlessness over a period of time.

You will be more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts and feelings if you feel unable to solve the difficulties in your life. These may include:

  • Isolation or loneliness
  • The breakdown of an important relationship
  • Being bullied at work, home, or school
  • Academic pressures from teachers and parents
  • Experiencing bereavement or other loss
  • Work problems, unemployment or poor job prospects
  • Adjusting to a big change, such as retirement or redundancy
  • Financial problems
  • Being in prison
  • Pregnancy, childbirth or postnatal depression
  • Cultural pressures
  • Doubts about your sexual or gender identity
  • Facing discrimination
  • A history of sexual or physical abuse
  • Long-term physical pain or illness
  • Mental health problems

Long-term physical pain and illness considerations

If you experience an illness or condition that causes a lot of physical pain, and is difficult to control that physical pain with standard pain relief medication, you may feel depressed and think that you would be better off dead. You may not want to die; rather, you may want to find a way of ending the physical pain. You may also feel particularly scared or down if you have been diagnosed with a terminal condition, such as cancer, and are terrified of what it will be like to live with it or to go through unpleasant treatments. You may also be considering the effect your illness has on your family. If the illness is degenerative you may worry how your family will be able to cope emotionally and financially as it progresses.

Mental health problems 

You may have suicidal thoughts while you are experiencing mental health problems, especially if you have a diagnosis of depression, borderline personality disorder, or psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. However, it is not inevitable that any of these mental health problems will lead you to feeling suicidal.

Borderline personality disorder 

If you have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder you may find it especially hard to cope with a stressful experience like losing a loved one or a job. You may feel out of control, paranoid or unreal. This can intensify thoughts of wanting to die.

Psychosis 

If you have a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, your thoughts about wanting to die may be most related to depression, and particularly to feelings of hopelessness about the future.

If you hear voices urging you to kill yourself, this may contribute to your suicidal thoughts. However, you are more likely to act on your suicidal thoughts during your non-psychotic, depressed phase. If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and have just come out of a manic phase, you may be feeling guilt, worthlessness and despair. This can trigger feelings of depression and suicidal thoughts.

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