Causes of suicidal feelings

Why do I feel suicidal?

Suicidal feelings can affect anyone, of any age, gender or background, at any time.

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

You may not know what has caused you to feel this way but it is often a combination of factors.

Struggling to cope with certain difficulties in your life can cause you to feel suicidal, such as:

  • mental health problems
  • bullying or discrimination
  • domestic abuse
  • bereavement
  • the end of a relationship
  • long-term physical pain or illness
  • adjusting to a big change, such as retirement or redundancy
  • money problems or homelessness
  • isolation or loneliness
  • being in prison
  • feeling inadequate or a failure
  • losing a loved one to suicide
  • addiction or substance abuse
  • pregnancy, childbirth or postnatal depression
  • cultural pressure, such as forced marriage
  • doubts about your sexual or gender identity
  • sexual or physical abuse

If you are unsure of why you feel suicidal, you may find it even harder to believe that there could be a solution. But whatever the reason there is support available to help you cope and overcome these feelings.

Can medication cause suicidal feelings?

Some medications, such as antidepressants, have been found to cause suicidal feelings. This side effect is mainly associated with a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) but all antidepressants carry this potential risk.

Young people under the age of 25 are particularly at risk.

If you find you are experiencing suicidal feelings while taking antidepressants:

  • contact your GP as soon as possible to discuss this
  • if you feel at immediate risk and unable to keep yourself safe, go to your local hospital’s A&E department

Why are some groups more at risk of suicide?

Research shows that the following groups are more at risk of taking their own life:

  • Men
  • People who identify as LGBTQ

Men

It’s not clear why more men than women complete suicide. However if you are male you may:

  • feel pressured to ‘get on with things’ and keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself
  • choose suicide methods that have a lower chance of survival
  • believe you can or feel you have to cope without help
  • worry that you will appear weak if you talk about your feelings or seek support.

These factors may place men at higher risk of feeling suicidal.

LGBTQ

Studies show that people from LGBTQ communities are more likely to experience suicidal feelings and take their own lives.

The reasons for this are complex and not yet fully understood. However, mental health problems experienced by LGBTQ people have been linked to:

  • discrimination
  • bullying
  • homophobia, biphobia or transphobia

You might also experience rejection, negative reactions or hostility from family members, friends, strangers, employers or members of the religious community. This can have a big impact on your self-esteem and mean you might feel unable to be open about your sexual or gender identity at work, at home or in the world at large.

If you are experiencing discrimination, bullying or intolerance related to your sexuality or gender identity and this is affecting your mental health, it may help to reach out for some support. You may wish to seek help from a mental health professional who specialises in working with issues facing LGBTQ communities.

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