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Ask HN: How do you deal with suicidal thoughts ?
75 points by awesom3 on July 15, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 81 comments
For the past couple of weeks, I have been having extremely suicidal thoughts.

I am getting paranoid, and even though I am sure that I am not capable of committing suicide nor do I want to, it is extremely disheartening, and very counterproductive.

If any of you have dealt with a similar situation, please let me know how to deal with this.

Thanks in anticipation.

EDIT: email: xoxo(at)hush.ai

I had an extremely close friend kill himself just before christmas this year. I found out later that he'd been planning it for quite some time (I'm 24, he was 21).

He seemed fine. He hid his feelings well, and expected people to ask how he was doing. When people did ask him how he was doing, he'd say he was fine, again, expecting people to dig deeper.

He's gone. Forever. I think about him nearly every day and I wish he was here.

You really do have an effect on people, even if you don't think so. You do. If you're gone, people will miss you. They won't just miss you, but they'll be so stricken with grief they might not recover for a long, long time.

Fuck that. Not worth it. Not worth it for yourself or for the people you love and the people who love you.

What you're talking about is called suicidal ideation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicidal_ideation. (Google those keywords to learn more.)

I have dealt with this issue for 20 years. The first 10 years, I thought I was going to die. But I've learned to lower my suicidal ideation levels tremendously by trial and error.

It was reassuring for me to learn from a psychologist friend that (A) suicidal ideation is the "lowest rung on the ladder of risk", so to speak, in terms of the risk of actually killing yourself. The next rungs on the ladder are: (B) deciding to kill yourself, (C) deciding when to kill yourself, and (D) deciding how to kill yourself. With that said, if you go up a rung, you're in trouble and need to escalate your remedies.

In my experience, if you are sure you are not capable of committing suicide and/or do not want to, it's possible to live a long time with suicidal ideation, although it sucks.

Here are some tips:

* Stop drinking if you lose control of yourself while drunk, especially if you're a sad drunk. Or at least limit the number of drinks you consume.

* Suicidal ideation is a symptom of depression, which is an mechanism that evolved to tell us that our body/mind is thinking: "I don't like something about your life and you need to change it." Focus on changing those somethings.

* You are allowed to have "bad thoughts" like "I am so depressed". However, you cannot allow yourself to have "bad thoughts about bad thoughts" or what I call "meta thoughts". In other words, you can't think "I am so depressed that I'm still depressed." Meta thoughts lead to bad thought spirals which increases suicidal ideation.

* Exercise does not ameliorate this condition for me, but it may for you, try it?

* Reduce the amount of stress in your life. This definitely contributes to depression. But really, you need to figure out why your body/mind is rebelling against you. If you're trapped in a bad job/relationship, you need to fix that.

* Watch this video to learn about the three levels of happiness: http://blog.sokanu.com/building-a-happiness-framework-in-you...

* Like me, you probably have a very low positive affect (don't smile a lot naturally, aren't bubbly/happy). Focus on spending as much time in Flow (the second level) as possible: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXIeFJCqsPs

Good luck!

P.S. If you do see a psychologist, go to a psychologist who uses "positive psychology": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Seligman#Positive_psycho....

Freudian/Yungian take a "mental illness model" approach that doesn't work for people like us, I believe. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and other approaches are much more effective, in my opinion.

You should also read Martin Seligman's books (Learned Optimism and What You Can Change and What You Can't) as well, and Dan Gilbert's new book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stumbling_on_Happiness

Positive psychology is not a method of therapy for depression, per se, though it is a good supplement to other forms of treatment and dovetails especially well with cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Research shows that medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and marriage/family therapy are all beneficial.

As you've intuited, psycho-dynamic therapy (along the lines of Freud) is not shown to be especially efficacious in alleviating depression except in cases where other measures were already being somewhat effective and only over a long time.

> Stop drinking if you lose control of yourself while drunk, especially if you're a sad drunk. Or at least limit the number of drinks you consume.

Coming from someone who struggles with anxiety and paranoia, the first thing I was told when I went to the psychiatrist was to quit drinking. I am by no means an alcoholic, but I used to go out probably twice a week and I'd also have a beer after work to unwind.

The results were like night and day. All I had to do was not drink during the week and go out less (maybe once every two weeks). You may not be in this boat, but if you are you're doing yourself a favor to cut back.

Sleeping with alcohol in one's system significantly reduces sleep quality, so your mental state the next day is not nearly as good as it could be, even if you aren't outright hungover. Plus, having sleep debt makes you more likely to drink, which makes you accumulate more sleep debt since you don't sleep as well, even though you're sleeping for longer.



> Sleeping with alcohol in one's system significantly reduces sleep quality

Obviously the answer then is to start drinking in the morning.

;-) ;-) ;-)

Yeah, that can really help. The worst part is the next day hangover. Dealing with suicidal ideation and a hangover is not fun. Also, if you're like me, you feel bad about yourself when you "waste a day" on a weekend while nursing your hangover.

"he results were like night and day. All I had to do was not drink during the week and go out less."

Smoking marijuana arguably leads to a 10% increased risk of developing psychosis. Whereas drinking alcohol raises your risk of developing psychosis by 800%. The public school drug propaganda programs always talk about the risks of drunk driving and liver damage, all while being completely silent about the biggest risk of all.

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long-term_effects_of_alcohol

I was a situational alcoholic during my startup days and quit drinking regularly a little over a year ago. Since May 2009 I've gone out for drinks 4 times. It is astonishing how different I feel now. Before I was very dour and cynical and now I'm generally upbeat. If I drink more than 2 drinks I'm reminded the next day of how crappy I used to feel on a regular basis.

I haven't been consuming alcohol for a while now, I think the last was during some world cup match.I don't necessarily lose control, but I guess I am a sad drunk.My thoughts do get darker when I have alcohol in my system.

I am in shape, and do exercise regularly. I don't think it makes a difference in my case.

Thanks for the links, and comments. I don't usually have a cheerful face, but yesterday I tried to keep a forced smile for the most part, because I read some literature that suggested it can improve how an individual feels. It hasn't really been useful.

I plan on seeing a doctor, but I don't have an appointment till this Tuesday.

Your comment about "I don't usually have a cheerful face" really rings a bell for me. For years, I tried to force a cheerful face, even though it was like swimming upstream. Now, I simply accept that I have a low positive affect (not bubbly).

Marty Seligman would say we have a low "happiness set point" which is extremely hard to change. I know that Paul Ekman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Ekman) says smiling can make you happier. That may be true for others, but it didn't help me. In other words, I think that trying to change your happiness set point is a low ROI investment.

In contrast, for me, sleeping well and on a regular schedule is a very high ROI investment. So is lowering stress and spending lots of time in Flow.

I mentioned that depression is possibly an evolved mechanism. The mechanism is: depression makes you ruminate which leads to insights. Meanwhile, you feel bad so you have an incentive to make a positive change in your life as a result of these insights.

Here is a NYT article about this: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/magazine/28depression-t.ht...

This really changed the way I think about depression. I now think about depression as a signal to ruminate, have insights, and make change.

However, don't try this at home, kids. I mean, it makes a lot of sense to work with a therapist/doctor, if you can find an effective one.

Also, self-help is no substitute for professional help in this situation. It's a good thing to do, but it's not a replacement or a shortcut.

The poster immediately above is being genuinely helpful, but I added some caveats in response to his P.S. below.

Depression can be physiological. It can be virtually impossible to change by sheer willpower alone.

If you are going to incorporate some exercises or ideas from positive psychology (which again, should be a complement to, not a replacement for, therapy of some form), a good place to start would be the book The How of Happiness, a relatively new book by one of the most respected scientists in the field of positive psych.

It contains a popular review of the science of subjective well-being and how that relates to an individual's quest to become happier. There's also a good section about depression include a self-assessment tool that is widely used in diagnosis of depression to help place you on the scale.

What she'll say, though, in addition to explaining much about the science and its application, is that this is something you should treat as seriously as any other emerging medical condition.

I wish you the best. If you reply to any of my posts, I'll be glad to discuss the issue with you further.

I recently had a friend from college commit suicide. Please, Please, Please find some help, I'm sure you are drastically underestimating how many people would miss you dearly.

There are plenty of organizations that will talk to you for free. Most large corporations have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that can provide you with three therapy sessions for free and virtually every healthcare plan under the sun covers mental health, it'll cost you a $15 co-pay. Go as often as you need.

I hope that you you find someone that can help you work through these issues.

Please put an e-mail in your profile. If you don't want to be identified use something like hushmail.

I'm certain there are many people here that can relate to your problems, but most of them might not want to speak up in a public forum about these issues and may prefer to contact you privately.

There was a somewhat similar post a few months back (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=937430) where the submitter was urged to set up an e-mail for private conversations. I think it might have helped him/her to talk to othe HN'ers in private.

HN could probably benefit by a "post anonymously" feature similar to Slashdot's. This is a productive discussion on a very real issue, and some name-free posting could bring out even more personal perspectives. Sure, you can always make a second account, but it's a bit of a kludge.

Go see a therapist. And I don't mean it in an off-handed fashion. I mean it in a professional who helps people deals with this and other problems. If there's a chemical imbalance, drugs can help. A doctor can prescribe them if they're needed.

"If there's a chemical imbalance, drugs can help."

Medical statistics seem to show otherwise. For people who undergo a first bout of depression, most people who don't medicate get better in 6-18 months and then never relapse. Whereas those who medicate have a much higher chance of relapsing multiple times later in life.

source: Anatomy of an Epidemic by Robert Whitaker.

That doesn't mean that there's no such thing as a chemical imbalance that can be improved with drugs. Maybe we're just over-prescribing anti-depressants.

"That doesn't mean that there's no such thing as a chemical imbalance that can be improved with drugs."

While it's not theoretically impossible that depression is caused by a neurotransmitter imbalance, most of the evidence is against it and most researchers now reject the hypothesis. Wikipedia has a nice summary of the current consensus on the serotonin imbalance hypothesis.

But antidepressants do work for some people, even if we don't understand the precise mechanism. I agree that the 'chemical imbalance' theory is probably wrong and certainly oversimplified but for some individuals life is significantly better with antidepressants than without.

Drugs can help.

Of course they can help. But for most people they make the condition worse. And since there is no way for any individual to know in advance whether the drugs will be safe or effective for them in the long term, I don't think it makes much sense to recommend them except for short term use in an emergency or as an option of last resort.

If you've been tested for every nutritional imbalance, and you're getting daily exercise, and socializing sufficiently, and if your work/family situation is good, and if you're taking the appropriate nutritional supplements, and if you've already tried various therapists, then trying one of the various drugs on the market might make sense. But the fact is that these drugs aren't very effective for most people, are extremely addictive, and have a high rate of causing serious side effects, including ones that lead to permanent disability or death.

What's more, the drug makers often lie about the safety and efficacy of their drugs in the clinical trials to get them approved, so the reality is almost certainly worse than what's already being acknowledged. (C.f. all of the scandals surrounding the approval of prozac, lexapro, benzo usage, washing out placebo responders, etc.)

There was a pretty astonishing if deadpan interview on Fresh Air recently with a psychiatrist who, although more orthodox than Whitaker, has published a book questioning the overreliance of psychiatry on drugs. (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1281075...)

Among other things I didn't know, he recounted how many of the leading articles on antidepressant efficacy were in fact written by advertising companies (yes, you read that right). The pharmaceutical companies would then pay famous psychiatrists to use their names as the authors of the already-written piece. These studies were published in all the leading journals (New England, etc.). The interviewer asked this guy what consequences there had been for the psychiatrists who had been bought off in this way. He said there had been none.

He also said (no surprises here) that he and other psychiatrists routinely tell their patients the chemical imbalance theory despite knowing that there is no evidence for it, on the grounds that people want a little "knowledge" about how the drugs they're being prescribed.

Treating/masking the symptom != resolving root cause.

The trouble is we don't really know the root cause of major depression. We know a little bit - e.g. it's partly genetic - but we usually can't 'resolve the root cause'. Treating the symptoms is not pointless.

"The trouble is we don't really know the root cause of major depression."

That's not really true. There are several different purely biological things that have been identified as root causes of depression: chronic illnesses, inflammation, nutritional imbalances, alcohol abuse, etc. These alone probably account for more than half of all cases of depression. (IIRC just inflammation is thought to account for 30% of cases.)

Similarly, there are many more lifestyle choices that clearly contribute: stressful work/family situation, lack of exercise, poor diet, poor social life, chronic sleep deprivation, etc.

Certainly there are individuals who are doing everything right and still end up suffering from a bout of depression that lasts more than two years even with therapy. However, these are fairly rare, as in almost certainly less than 5%.

As for treating the symptoms, it's not pointless but it can be extremely damaging. It can lead to more more severe mental illness (bipolar, schizophrenia), chronic depression, psychosis, suicide, violent behavior, sexual disfunction, etc.

There definitely are times when drugs are appropriate. But telling someone who has had suicidal ideations to look into drugs as a first line treatment is extremely irresponsible. It's like telling a 13 year old kid with a pimple to look into accutane.

pls cut the crap. Do not post opinions as facts.


"pls cut the crap. Do not post opinions as facts."

I cited a book that references hundreds of academic studies. You cited six paragraphs of a wikipedia article, which doesn't even cover any of the real issues/questions. Are you fucking kidding me?

Please don't do anything to harm yourself. If you feel like suicide is your only option, please seek help. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 to speak to someone right away.

This is going to sound nuts, and of course I offer no guarantees, but I found that I did a lot better on days I ate bananas.

Hear me out for a moment.

I really like bananas... I buy a couple bunches and they're gone in a few days. Yummy. But then I don't get to the store for a while, and so on. One day not too long ago, I saw a bit of a correlation between my mood and the days I had bananas.

Digging around a bit, bananas (or papaya or dates) turn out to be one of the fruits that increase serotonin levels, one of the chemicals that might play a role in depression.

So... at this point it might be all placebo, but I don't care. I eat bananas every day and feel generally good! (Hey, it's only a couple bucks to try out, and at least it's not heroin or something!)

Naturally, the banana is no substitute for professional help, etc.

I don't think it's nuts. I am no doctor but I have a theory, which is basically as simple as positive versus negative thinking and energy. I absolutely believe eating foods you like, especially if they are naturally healthy, can help with depression. I think a reason many people become overweight is they seek something which provides something positive, like tasty foods, to alleviate depression. Unfortunately, they often choose junk food, which I don't recommend as it can spike your energy level, then bring you back down. Eating healthy can provide a much nicer energy curve, which I think is very helpful. Like others have said, I also believe exercise can help. This is because you take on a positive task (betterment of your health) and feel good for completing that task, in addition to feeling better physically. Here again is something positive which I believe offsets negative energy/thoughts. Chemicals within the body may also play a role, but again, I'm no doctor. I do, however, strongly feel that positive thinking and acts are very helpful. On the other hand, negative thoughts can spiral downward and become even more of a problem, so dwelling on negative thoughts should be avoided.

That's not nuts - I mean, proper nutrition (bananas are good food) and good sleep are necessary for good mental health.

Sometimes just some proper food and sleep is all you need.

Bananas contain magnesium. Magnesium is supposed to reinforce your mental strength. Most antistress pills you can get without prescription have it.

Will give it a shot. Thanks.

Please seek the help of a professional as soon as you can, and take care of yourself, even if you don't think you are capable of the act.

Don't be alone- suck up your pride and your pain and make sure you're never alone. And don't be afraid to call a bunch of people you've never talked to in a while: it's just laziness and the disconnectedness of modern life, they're still your friends.

Don't stay up late by yourself, sleep immediately or go somewhere where you /aren't alone/.

Here is what worked for me.

At some point (a long long time ago), I came pretty close, and one day I wrote a long, very thorough explanation of what exactly was wrong and why I was going to do it.

After finishing it, I read it with a critical eye and imagined people finding it after I do it. I put myself in their shoes and saw right away - those reasons are NOT got enough. Pretty much everyone who'd see it would think "Wow, that guy was a fucking pussy for offing himself like that." I saw that my problems were not THAT serious, and totally not worth doing it.

Immediately, I felt much better, and started writing a concrete plan to solve my issues. Some of those problems are still present in my life, and occasionally I do feel depressed about them, but since then, overall my life has been a thousand times better, and I've never seriously considering doing it, nor do I think I will ever.

I second everyone else's advice to find support with a professional. It's definitely the "best" solution, but I've not had great experiences with that and maybe you're in the same boat.

If there is someone, a family member or significant other that you trust, be sure to tell them how you are feeling. When you are in a dark place, it's easy to get tunnel vision. They may not be able to "fix it" the way a professional can, but they may be able to help you along and give you the perspective you need.

There is a book "Change Your Brain, Change Your Life" which has been great for me and my husband. Basically, you find out which profile fits you, and then it gives you specific advice for how to improve yourself. When I was reading my own profile, and that of my husbands, I was like yes, yes that's it! It was like it was describing us personally. And we had already learned through self-study some of the benefits that helped us. But once we saw them reinforced, we know to do them more consciously.

I agree that you need to make sure there are people in your life who know clearly (ie, you tell them honestly and openly) what you're going through, who can stand by your side as you go through several attempts at coping with this.

I can assure you right now that if you ever went through with it, there would be several (if not dozens) of devastated people going "If I had only known...!"

As for how to involve other people while still "saving face" and not being too much of a burden, I always liked Jane McGonigal's "recovery game" idea, maybe this can give you some ideas: http://blog.avantgame.com/2009/09/super-better-or-how-to-tur...

I wish you all the best!

I've had similar stuff, including massive panic attacks / anxiety, especially in graduate school. I learned to deal with it through diet, exercise, but mostly by getting outside and getting more sunlight. If your climate / weather allows for it, go take a sick day, pack a lunch, and go spend at least half the day in some sunny park or beach.

I also find it helps to write out all the thoughts in your head. If I don't do this, I feel like my brain is stuck in a loop, always coming right back to whatever major issue I'm having. Getting that issue down on paper somehow lets my brain move on and really think about some other things for a while.

I do the same thing when I over-think. It's overload and background noise in my head. I go through a couple waves every year with very bad panic attacks for a few good weeks, usually triggered by stress. I notice it's when I have a hunch to do something but then delay on it for a few minutes/hours/etc. starts as a restless feeling which then leads to dervish behavior then thoughts directed internally... leading to hyper ventilation, heart palpitations, etc. Good advice I'll have to try that next time.

doc here. Seems like this is the most common issue on Hacker News. I suspect there is a common thread, something along the lines of negative thinkers are the people who identify problems and strive to solve them, but such a personality is at perpetual risk of decompensating toward depression. I think Andy Thompson's theory makes a ton of sense for most depressives in this community


Unfortunately I think you may be right. To build a very high quality system, you need to be adept at identifying every major and minor flaw, actual and potential. Happy people often seem unable to do this rigorously. "My code is great! The sky is so blue today! I love my awesome wife! That SIGSEGV was just a hardware problem!"

People rationalize to maintain their preferred emotional state. Thus, to find problems thoroughly, it helps to think the whole system is thoroughly fucked.

Besides seeing a professional, there are some random things: (I don't know your situation so hence the randomness)

- Read this: http://whitehottruth.com/white-hot/the-manifesto-of-encourag...

- If you have sappy depressing music playing all the time, turn it off. Mood is affected by music.

- Go for a walk.

- Don't drink alone.

- Go to church.

- Realize that there are things in your life that you can't change. And things that you can change. Accept the things you can't change. Change the things that you can change.

Or if you're not a religious chap, replace "Go to church" with something else regular and social like learning a language (no, not a programming language), dance classes, cooking classes, etc.

Music--Mozart's 40th has occasionally been a reminder that life is worth living, though I must say that the moods where I've wanted the reminding have been more in the nature of snits.

Yes, exercise.

Hey man- You're getting a lot of advice. I'd even say some of it's good :) Here's my two bits - but only you can find out what'll work for you.

Around the time I turned 20 I started having bouts of serious depression that lasted from 2-5 days. And then I'd get better and be OK for a week or two. This was pretty debilitating, and left me more or less emotionally unstable until I sought professional help around the time I was 25. I frequently entertained suicidal thoughts in this period.

Around 25 I found a therapist I could trust, and a psychiatrist. I have a family history of alcoholism and bipolar disorder, and my psychiatrist diagnosed me as bipolar pretty quickly. For the past 5 years I've been taking an anti-depressant (celexa) and a mood stabilizer (lithium) every day. That, combined with weekly therapy, has made me 100% more functional in daily life.

Above all else, find a therapist. I'm on my 4th, have been seeing him weekly for 5 years, and I like him a lot. The first few you try might suck - I had one therapist who actually belittled my problems. I ditched her. My current therapist has helped me excavate and talk about the ugliest stuff in my head. Turns out it's a lot easier to live with if you can hold it, turn it over, and talk about it. I know for a fact that I'm a better person because of therapy.

Pharmaceuticals probably aren't for everybody. But they sure as hell helped me. I credit them in part with the healthy marriage, productive professional life, and happy social life I have now. I'm going to have a freakin' baby next month, and I'm psyched about it. You can work through this.

Good luck. You're already drowning in advice, but here's my story. Cheers!

My rule is really simple: As long as there are people who are alive who care about me, then I may not kill myself. People are anchors for each other, whether they are vocal about this or not. The profound, irreversible, emotional collateral damage is not justifiable, and that's all there is to it.

Since I have family and friends who are younger than me, it's likely my rule will be in effect until die from natural causes. QED.

What causes these thoughts? Either way, talk to a loved one (who loves you) or a friend and then visit a psych. Some people may rant about having drugs prescribed, but that doesn't always have to be the solution. Just having somebody to talk to about your issues (who can help you work through them) can be incredibly helpful.

Self-analysis - is there any rationale behind your thoughts? If you can pull yourself out of the bowels of misery long enough to think (it's hard, trust me), why do you feel the way you feel? There's always a good chance that there's a more serious disorder lurking, so don't take this to mean that you shouldn't see someone. Don't discount psychologists just because they sometimes follow quack theories, either. Sometimes, just having someone to talk to is enough.

The dangerous threshold you cross is when you jump from extremely graphic, horrifying thoughts to physical activities that motion you on towards suicide. Once you, for example, start driving to a point where you want to jump off from or shopping for antihistamines to keep poison in your system, you're beyond the point where self-help can be effective.

I've been through this, and despite all the points where you tell yourself you're just going to do it, you reach a moment of mental clarity where you truly internalize the notion of suicide. You'll either push forward and decide to go on with it, or you'll realize that you just feel like shit and suicide is your pre-programmed pattern of thought for coping with it. If you decide on the former, stop and call emergency services so someone can save you from yourself.

This advice isn't pulled out my ass, either. I wake up every other day or so with the desire to crash my car into the local river or hang myself. But after thinking it through, I know it's because I have a shitty, non-relevant job and attend a crappy school in a backwater state in a country full of and run by ignorant loons. Just rationalizing my emotions removes the stinging pain that makes me want to kill myself, although I still feel the desire to bulldoze everyone in my local Wal-mart, so go figure. (-;

If you have a preferred contact method, let me know. I'd be happy to talk to you. Although I AM NOT A DOCTOR, NOR A DECENT SUBSTITUTE FOR ONE, I have been through something like this, so I may be able to provide more insight.

Take care.

I also do have those suicidal thoughts, I gave up internships, friends and stuff to get better at programming and do a startup but I didn't get anywhere yet, I don't even have an idea. That made me lose some contacts and I hardly go out. But the deal is... I belive in myself so should you too, also I can't let the people that care about me down. In life you have a history ahead and you are a part of what will happen in the future of many people, of your future husband/wife, of your kids and many more. One thing that i do to relieve depression is work out, I seriously hate it but in the end of it I feel good and that I did the "exercise of the day" or go for a walk. Lately I haven't really taken my emotions seriously(yea... i'm even getting used to it) so I haven't been that much depressed.

I hope you do fine.

> If any of you have dealt with a similar situation, please let me know how to deal with this.

For what it's worth, you are not alone. This happens to a lot of people. It happened to me. Still does on occasion. But it's an individual thing. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. You have to try different things and find out what works for you.

Here's what works for me:

1. Exercise. It's amazing what a good dose of endorphines can do.

2. Focusing on the many ways in which life could suck but doesn't, e.g.:


(If by chance you live in Bangladesh, then I'm afraid I am at a loss.)

3. This is kind of hard to describe without making it sound like new-age bullshit. What you want to do is to induce a sort of deliberate schizophrenia, to separate out two parts of your brain: the part that feels depressed and wants to stop the pain, and the part that recognizes that you can't or won't do it because the depressed part is not really thinking straight. For some people, simply going this far is enough. Just recognizing that emotional pain is something that happens to you, just like physical pain, can sometimes be enough to get through it. If not, then you have to engage in some deliberate mental exercises to help your deliberative self gain enough control over your emotional self to keep from hurting too badly or doing yourself physical harm. The key is to recognize that being depressed and/or suicidal is not an indication of any kind of personal flaw or failure, any more than having a backache. It's just something that's gone wrong with your wiring.

All this assumes, of course, that you don't have some legitimate reason to feel depressed, in which case you need to figure out what that is and deal with it, or that you don't have some physiological problem that needs pharmaceutical help, in which case a doctor can help.

Good luck.

This is not serious, useful advice like the other posters (and pls listen to them)... but I always thought, if you are considering suicide, why not fake your death? All the good stuff like re-birth, freedom, and what not... without the bad stuff.. like being dead forever.

Well, if you have life insurance that constitutes insurance fraud. If you have people that care about you (and its probably safe to say virtually everyone does), you have just done a lot of harm to them. If you have responsibilities, this probably means you are abandoning them.

If you succeeded in faking your death (very hard to do in modern society, I would suspect) you may gain some benefit from it, but you will cause problems for a lot of other people. Not to mention the problems you bring on yourself if you are caught could be very substantial.

(I thought it was a funny post though, even if attached to a serious topic. In all seriousness, if you are having suicidal thoughts, seek help.)

<Edited for length>

Some people do this virtually. They delete their facebooks or myspace pages, and go invisible so nobody can contact them except through email , phone, or meet in person. I'm afraid that in the short term, finding out how many people care about you is great, but if you regularly seek attention in such a serious matter, its like the boy that crys wolf, people will grow tired. Be Careful.

Thanks, that made me laugh =)

I too sometimes have bouts of suicidal ideation. When I was younger, they were much worse/more frequent than they are now. In general, the realization that death is, at least currently, inevitable has helped me deal with them.

If your suicidal thoughts are rooted in personal suffering, the realization that you have control over how you perceive events can be helpful. Instead of having to walk in a blizzard, you're getting to feel stuff you normally don't.

I'm not a spiritual person by any means, but I think that realizing that desire and suffering are intertwined is a good thing to realize.

If your suicidal ideation is caused by a more existential type of angst, I can recommend "The Myth of Sisyphus" by Camus. It helped me come to terms with the absurdity of existence more than just about anything else, but what worked for me may not work for you.

Other than advice already stated in this thread, that's about all I can offer without knowing you or your situation.

One more thing: your life will change. It may get "better", it may get "worse", but it will not stagnate. You are ever-changing, and will be until you end, and at the moment it is a certainty that you will end. I, and most others here I'm sure, don't recommend rushing it along -- even if your experience of consciousness is ridiculously hard to bear right now, there's no way to know if it will always be that way without living, and as far as I can tell it is most often not always that way.

In order of importance:

1) Social: Get out and be around other people. If you have a laptop, do your work at coffee shops. It might boost your productivity, too.

2) Health: Use a nutrient calculator for a week and calculate if your typical diet is malnourished in Vitamin A,B1,B2,B3,B4,B5,B6,B9,B12,C,D,E,Calcium,Zinc,Iron,Magnesium,or Manganese and you are eating enough complete proteins that have all essential amino acids.

3) Thoughts: Eliminate negative thought cycles. Everyone gets stuck in them, they are basically feedback loops you need to cut. The fastest way to do this IMO is to learn any rudimentary meditation techniques and take a serotogenic such as Mescaline, 2c-i, Psylocibin, or Prozac\SSRIs. The simplest mediation technique is to pick something such as the sensation of breathing through your nose to focus your attention on. Then when you notice yourself having a thought, simply acknowledge its existence without assigning negative or positive value to it (which we all normally do) and return your focus to the sensation of breathing through your nose (or whatever sensation or image you chose to focus on). In a meditative experience you're basically supposed to have the slight sensation of being an observer in you're own body, notice\gain-awareness of the type of thoughts you have everyday, and realize you have complete control over it and can actually think about anything you want.

I've gone through this too off and on for as long as I can remember. Mainly it was just the fascination with the thought of what I would experience after death. To be honest if you catch yourself thinking this way it can be scary like you said. I have just decided to look at it and laugh, and it makes it not so terrifying, maintain a sense of humor. I would never want to take my own life- it's probably the lamest ending to any persons life. But I have to admit I think this way a lot. Also, happens when watching movies where people die/get killed in strange ways. My mother passed away in November from pneumonia and now I am constantly paranoid about my health. I've had some serious panic attacks as a result.


1. Go to church. Listen to a podcast on Buddhism, or find something to believe in. 2. Write down or look in the mirror and tell yourself all the positive things about yourself. 3. Laugh about death, have a sense of humor, choose to live, anyone can die. 4. Be different. Do everything differently in your life, wear your underwear outside your pants, listen to music you normally hate. Get outside of being ordinary. It will loosen you up, and give you new perspectives.

Exercise helps, the more intense the better.

Try St. John's Wort.

This http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/play/snake-oil-supplem... indicates that it's provably effective against mild depression.

I had a suicidal ideation when I was young but I realized that no matter how worthless I feel dying is the most dumbest, useless, worthless thing I can do. The ultimate loss. Ultimate fail. And no one would care so theres no epic in this. Also it would hurt only my mom who is the person I am most reluctant to hurt.

Plus even if I don't see any future for myself I am extremely curious what will future bring to the world.

Of course maybe I didn't actually learned anything and it's just my mind chemistry changing due to growing up.

Yeah, I came pretty close (I think) to deciding to kill myself back in 1996. After that I went a long time with few - or no - suicidal thoughts, but every once in a while over the past couple of years I found a few of those thoughts creeping in again. I doubt I'll ever actually go through with it, but who can predict these things.

Probably the biggest thing(s) I've learned that help:

1. Fish-oil is considered to have an anti-depressant effect. And of all the "folk remedies" you sometimes hear about, this one has a fair amount of legitimate scientific research backing it up. I've been really depressed before, took a couple of fish-oil capsules and felt more cheerful within an hour or two.

2. Exercise does help for me. Just being "in the zone" working hard in and of itself helps, as does the "runner's high" effect. Plus it's a chance to plug my headphones in, put on some heavy metal and tune the rest of the world out and just jam. Trail running is fun and it's great exercise. I highly recommend it, along with mountain biking. But pick your own favorite.

3. Pay attention to the dialogue that's going on in your head. When you find yourself thinking "bad" thoughts, ask yourself "Wait, why am I thinking this? This is stupid, I don't want to think this crap, I'm going to think happy thoughts now." It sounds weird, but this kind of "meta" thinking does work (well, for me anyway). I was inspired by some stuff on CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), so you may find reading up on that to be useful.

There are a zillion books on dealing with this kind of stuff in the self-help section at Barnes & Noble or Borders. I have a couple, but I basically bought them, set them aside, and never read them. But you might find it useful to go in one day, browse that section, take a couple of books and go sit in the cafe and skim / read a little...you may find something useful.

4. Studying Zen Buddhism has also been helpful to me. I don't consider myself a Buddhist per-se, but I think their way of thinking to be useful. I'm still trying to adapt to it, but just reading Zen literature usually makes me feel better.

5. Eliminate negative influences as much as you can. If you have "toxic" people in your life (wife, girlfriend, friend, co-worker, boss, whatever) find some way to get away from them. The last thing you need is negative people dragging you down, or influencing you in a negative way.

And while I've never done it myself, a support group of some sort might be useful. Even if it's online and not in meatspace. If you believe - as BobbyH says below - that suicidal thoughts are a symptom of depression, you might find the /r/depression sub-reddit to be useful. I browse it every once in a while and some good stuff gets posted sometimes.

And if all else fails, my default advice is "get drunk and listen to Motley Crue." \m/

Edit: also, if you ever just want to talk, feel free to email me. My email is in my profile.






In 2008 I attempted suicide.

I have dealt with suicidal ideation off & on since I was around 7 years old. My brother committed suicide, and mental illness (including depression) runs in my family. I'm not crazy though, I swear :-)

I've read a number of people say things like, "It's completely normal. You just have to deal with it like everyone else." That's wrong, and really, really dangerous advice. Suicidal ideation is very different from feeling 'blue' every now and then. Suicidal ideation is an indication of something more serious, and if left unchecked can get much worse (did you read my opening line?). Not everyone can get out of depression on their own or with 'natural remedies'. Depression is an illness just like diabetes or hypertension. Sometimes medication is necessary to get better.

I'm glad to hear that you have an appointment with a doctor. That's an important step to take, even if you don't start medication or therapy. After my suicide attempt I saw a psychiatrist 2-3 times and never took medication or did any therapy, but it was honestly very helpful.

I wanted to say that point number 3 above is a huge key to getting better. Remember this: Thoughts lead to emotions, emotions lead to actions. If you don't want to commit suicide (the action), prevent what comes before it (emotions, thoughts). Don't think about suicide and you'll avoid feeling like suicide is the answer. It's hard, but it gets easier over time.

What also helped me--which my psychiatrist recommended--was to create and follow a daily routine. I freelanced from home at the time and found myself with a very erratic sleep pattern, I didn't exercise, and I rarely left my apartment. I got a part-time job that got me out of the house, stopped staying up until 2, 3, 4 in the morning, started exercising, and forced myself to do more socially with my friends. Now, I'm happy and productive.

As a side note, if you're interested in trying any natural remedies for depression, there are basically three options: 1) SAM-e, 2) 5-HTP, 3) St. John's Wort. I have listed them in the order of their generally accepted effectiveness for treating depression and, how would you say, time before affect? St. John's Wort typically takes 2-3 weeks (IIRC) before you start to feel it's effects. SAM-e is supposed to work with in a few days.

Hang in there man. Things are never as bad as you may think, and they will get better in time.

  I've read a number of people say things like, "It's 
  completely normal. You just have to deal with it like 
  everyone else." That's wrong, and really, really 
  dangerous advice. Suicidal ideation is very different 
  from feeling 'blue' every now and then. Suicidal ideation 
  is an indication of something more serious, and if left 
  unchecked can get much worse (did you read my opening 
  line?). Not everyone can get out of depression on their 
  own or with 'natural remedies'. Depression is an illness 
  just like diabetes or hypertension. Sometimes medication 
  is necessary to get better.
Er, FWIW, I wasn't saying "just deal with it." Just giving the OP some thoughts based on my own experiences. The only reason(s) I didn't list "Go see a professional" is because A. I never did (and doubt I ever will) and B. it had already been said by others in this thread.

But yes, I would certainly advocate that anyone who has serious questions about their mental state see a professional therapist.

  I'm glad to hear that you have an appointment with a 
  doctor. That's an important step to take, even if you 
  don't start medication or therapy. 

Doctor? Not me... maybe that bit was meant for somebody else? I don't go to doctors unless I see large amounts of my own blood or there's a bone sticking through the skin. :-)

  As a side note, if you're interested in trying any 
  natural remedies for depression, there are basically 
  three options: 1) SAM-e, 2) 5-HTP, 3) St. John's Wort. I 
  have listed them in the order of their generally accepted 
  effectiveness for treating depression and, how would you 
  say, time before affect? St. John's Wort typically takes 
  2-3 weeks (IIRC) before you start to feel it's effects. 
  SAM-e is supposed to work with in a few days.
Interesting stuff. What's SAM? Never heard of it. 5HTP is interesting, but from what I've seen there isn't a lot of research on it. I used to drink an "energy drink" before my workouts that had 5HTP in it, but it's hard to quantify how much (if at all) it helped my mood.

Originally my comment was in reply to yours because I was going to build on your third point, controlling your thoughts. I ended up talking about a few other things, though, so I can see why some of my comments where unclear.

The comment about 'just dealing with it' wasn't directed towards you.

The comment about seeing a doctor was meant for the OP.

Perhaps I should have commented on the original post and not in reply to your comment.

SAM is S-Adenosyl Methionine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S-Adenosyl_methionine#Polyamine...). "SAM is required for cellular growth and repair. It is also involved in the biosynthesis of several hormones and neurotransmitters that affect mood, such as dopamine and serotonin."

I tried 5-HTP for a short while and felt like I had a very slight improvement in mood. I was quite depressed at the time though, so I doubt a dietary supplement would have cut it anyway.

5HTP definitely has therapeutic effects, especially taken sub lingually under the tongue. However, no one should regularly swallow large amounts as it will elevate free- serotonin levels in your peripheral blood stream, which is very bad for your heart. Increasing serotonin is good in the sense of brain synapses, not bloodstream. You will also build up a tolerance to it and it will stop working. I only use it infrequently as recovery from migraines or drinking.

"SAM-e" is S-Adenosyl-methionine and is messing with methylation rather than neurotransmitters directly. It can have very different effects on different people and I believe is generally more dopaminergic than serotogenic and can actually increase anxiety in some people.

If you want something 10x as effective as any listed above, look into low-dose 2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodophenethylamine .

I was going to point out the nutrition side of depression, mainly how it has been widely observed and lots of studies done that indicate fish oils, vitamin b complex and good exercise beats depression away.

But don't be afraid to get help. Seriously, if it has come down to this low, you probably need it.

Don't freak out, and seek therapy - and don't get bummed out about the fact that you are seeking therapy. That's a good thing.

We could all guess a million causes for this (drugs/alcohol/etc) - but in the end it doesn't matter. You've noticed something going on in your head, and you feel that it's not right.... so go see a doctor. or two. or three.

This by no way means you're headed towards offing yourself or going nuts. But still, see a doctor - if for no other reason than you've observed a disturbing and sudden change in your mental state that you can't explain. That's enough of a reason right there.

Please do seek out a therapist. Specifically I would recommend one trained in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy. If you can't find one, you can still explore it on your own with whatever therapy you happen to choose. Here are a couple resources explaining ACT:



The first thing, obvious as it may seem, is to see a professional for help. I had a similar situation and I was hesitant to talk to anyone about it, and even more hesitant to start taking any medication, but I got therapy and went on antidepressants for a couple months, and it truly did help.

You need to see a therapist that you trust.

Failing that, please please talk to your friends or even just acquaintances!

Finally, http://www.reddit.com/r/suicidewatch is a good resource for you... that's a very caring and useful community.

Your problem is no-doubt multi-faceted, and IMO there's no universal answer that works for everybody, and you need to remember to take every answer you get here with a grain of salt. Take what applies to you, and leave the rest.

I would recommend immediately reaching out in person to friends or family that you trust. If you have nobody that you trust with this, reach out to a suicide hotline. There's a national one at 800-273-8255. If you forget the number just google "national suicide hotline" and it should be a google-supplied first search result.

After reaching out for help, I think you should focus on treating the underlying depression that is leading to the suicidal thoughts. Here are a few things you might try:

1. Get your vitamin d level checked. This might sound like a funny thing to do, but many studies have shown links between vitamin d insufficiency/deficiency and depression. The specific test you want is the "25-hydroxy vitamin-d test." Some 60% of Americans have inadequate levels, and that number goes up the darker your skin gets. For hackers and other knowledge-workers, my guess is that the number is much higher, because we are inside all day. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/vitamin-d-why-yo...

2. Exercise. Even if it's just walking around the block with your girlfriend, or brother, or dog, or mom, or alone. If there's a sport you used to play but don't anymore, pick it up. Climb rocks, or fence, or box, or ski. Dance, or fly kites, or garden, or whatever. But whatever you do, get physically active. Your body needs that, especially when you are feeling down. You would be surprised how much better you feel after some good physical activity.

3. Take things off your plate. You are not a machine. Shoot, even machines need rest. Don't take too much on your plate. Remember that even (especially) the most successful people take breaks and prioritize.

4. Remember that you aren't alone and you aren't crazy. Life throws us crap like this to make us stronger, and so we can relate to others' suffering. Remember that there is purpose in all your suffering.

5. Love your life, poor as it is. The journey is 9/10 of the fun. Laugh at it when it sucks, and realize that it's not as bad as it seems. Also don't acquire the "if only" disease. "if only i had this, then I'd be happy...." Acheiving milestones is awesome, and feels great, but then you go back to the journey -- the 9/10. Enjoy it all, and live in the now.

Most of the comments here are good and helpful, but -- go talk to a shrink immediately. Like, right now.

Watch more movies and listen to more music that makes you feel good about you.

Break out of the system you are in. Get yourself into dangerous situations.

Good question, and useful timing. Tonight's a worse night than usual for me.

As a survivor, I'm pretty much living with these things all the time. I find it hard to believe that I'm able to be safe. I cope ironically through how my suicidal thoughts manifest. For me, they are normally about self-destruction and obliteration, not death, and that's pretty hard to do yourself.

Suicidal thoughts are not the whole story, though. It's easy to focus on the big dramatics, and ignore the greater effects. I persistantly have trouble sleeping, and depression and self-loathing have consistantly been a barrier for me. If it were not for my problems, I would have certainly got much more than a pass degree. I'm not coding as much as I would like, as I spend a lot of my free time managing my headspace rather than my passions.

Something that helps when in better moods is to remember, though, that I have got a degree. And I worked part time during university, too. I had to act as carer to my ex during that. I ran some pretty amazing student societies, and have done some big things. And now I'm a manager in a huge IT company, working on some impressive things. I'm learning to drive pretty fast. And I'm a trans woman.

You see, it's not as simple as saying "go see a shrink". I can't go to the NHS with my problems, as if I were to tell them that I see things (hence the throwaway account name), medical assistance for trans matters would be threatened. Drugs too are not great, for two reasons - they don't work, and they don't mix well with reality issues.

I hope to be able to afford private counselling soon, as this isn't that much fun. But I am functional at the moment, and I have amazing friends and family.

The biggest problem? That these issues just are not talked about. The media says that it's only "crazy people" who see things, people who stab others and get locked up, or people who can't work and function in the real world at all. Yet I'm sure there are many more just like me, who like me sit at work, being productive, all the whilst being convinced that they are being physically attacked. I'm having to use a throwaway, as I'm only 26, and have one hell of a distinctive name. We can't talk about this sort of stuff, and this stigma makes it worse.

So sometimes, to help with the thoughts, I write about them and share my experiences with others.

Other things I have found to help: * Stop drinking. Drinking makes me extremely depressive normally.

* Call amazing friends. I've got friends that are happy spending hours on the phone just making silly noises at me. It's extremely reassuring, and they have ordered (this is useful!) me to call them anytime I want or need. When I don't touch base with close friends and family regularly, my headspace tends to get even darker.

* Safe company. The useful thing about being in a number of minority groups is the easy access to a number of safe spaces and people. Even if I don't talk about these things with them, getting into an LGBT space, or a furmeet lets me feel amongst people who understand. And perhaps, now hackernews might be added ;)

* Comfort food. Chocolate, ice cream and cake, need I say more? :P

* Exercise. Damn I need to get out more, I love running and it feels amazing. And the fact that I can walk five miles in 70 minutes is something I should be more proud of!

* Eat right. Skipping meals really doesn't help at all, and I get grouchy without a balanced diet.

* Do something stimulating but not stressful. Having a new exciting thing to work on keeps me pleased for days - and better still, my bosses have noticed this!

(email: demonwatch(at)hushmail.com)

This sucks. I feel for you. My heart goes out to you.

Therapy bud. Therapy.

It's perfectly normal. You just have to deal with it like everyone else does.

Depression is mainly alleviated by doing something productive almost every day. That way, your night feels good because you got something done, and so does your next morning.

Open up your favorite browser (if possible not IE coz I hate IE). go to google.com and search for "Suicide".

Call the very first 800 number you see.


Take it easy man!!!

Think about the life people are spending in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. I am sure you would be living a way better life.

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