6 coping skills for suicidal thoughts

First and foremost, I want you to know that you’re not alone in what you’re feeling. Suicidal thoughts can be incredibly isolating and terrifying, but it’s crucial to remember that there are ways to navigate through them. On this page, we’ll explore some coping skills for suicidal thoughts to help in those overwhelming moments. But before then, please remember: if you’re ever in crisis, I urge you to seek immediate professional assistance. You matter, and your well-being is paramount.

6 coping skills for suicidal thoughts

Recognize and Validate Feelings

The truth is, your feelings are valid. No matter how big or small, they’re real, and they matter. It’s common for people to sometimes dismiss or belittle what they’re feeling, thinking maybe they’re overreacting or being too sensitive. But I’m here to tell you, it’s okay to feel the way you do. And more than that, it’s okay to seek help when things get tough, as recognizing and addressing these thoughts is a crucial coping skill for suicidal thoughts

Suicidal thoughts, like many difficult emotions, can sometimes emerge as our mind’s way of trying to cope with intense pain or distress. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or flawed. It simply means you’re human, and life can be really hard sometimes. Recognizing these feelings and allowing yourself the space to understand them is the first step in navigating your way through. Whenever you’re in doubt, just remember: You deserve support, and there are people out there who genuinely want to help.

Distraction Techniques

I’ve found that during particularly tough moments, sometimes the best thing you can do is to redirect your attention. This isn’t about running away from your feelings, but rather giving your mind a momentary break, a respite. Think of it like pressing a “pause” button.

Have you ever tried deep breathing exercises? Taking slow, deliberate breaths can be incredibly grounding. If you feel a wave of overwhelming thoughts, try inhaling deeply for a count of four, holding it for a count of four, and then exhaling for another count of four. It’s simple, but it can make a world of difference in the heat of the moment.

Physical activity, even just a short walk, can also shift your mindset. The act of moving, feeling your heartbeat, and taking in your surroundings can provide a fresh perspective.

Lastly, engage in a hobby or something you love. Be it reading, drawing, listening to music, or even baking—anything that can momentarily take your mind to a different space.

I understand that sometimes, the energy or motivation to do any of these might be lacking, and that’s okay. The idea is to have some tools in your arsenal for when you feel you might want to use them. Remember, every person is different, so it’s all about finding what resonates with you.


Strengthen Social Connections

There’s an old saying that goes, “Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.” While it’s natural to want to isolate when you’re feeling down, I’ve observed that connecting with others can make a significant difference.

Have you ever felt lighter after sharing something heavy on your heart? Just knowing that someone is there to listen can be incredibly relieving. Reach out to a friend, or family member, or join a support group—someone who can lend an understanding ear.

You don’t even have to talk about what’s bothering you; sometimes, just being in the presence of someone can be comforting. In moments where you might hesitate, thinking you’ll be a burden or your problems are too much, remember this: people care about you. And sometimes, they just might not know you’re struggling unless you tell them.

I’d also recommend finding or creating a safe space where you can be yourself, free from judgment. It can be a local group, an online community, or even regular meet-ups with a close friend. Surrounding yourself with understanding individuals can remind you that you’re not alone in your journey. Building and maintaining these connections might take time and effort, but the warmth of shared understanding is often worth it


Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

I completely get it—sometimes, when life gets overwhelmingly painful, it might seem tempting to turn to substances like drugs or alcohol to numb or escape those feelings. But, from my experience and understanding, these substances often only offer temporary relief and can intensify feelings or even lead to new problems.

Alcohol, for instance, is a depressant. While it might give a brief sensation of relaxation or detachment, it can amplify feelings of sadness, lethargy, or hopelessness as its effects wear off. Similarly, drugs, depending on the type, can heighten emotions, affect your judgment, and put you in risky situations.

If you’re looking for a release or a way to cope, I’d encourage you to consider alternatives. Maybe you could channel your emotions into art or music. Or perhaps spend time in nature, which often has a grounding effect.

And if you feel that you might have a dependency issue, please know there’s no shame in seeking help. Many people, from all walks of life, seek assistance with substance use, and there’s a whole community out there ready to support you. Remember, you’re striving for long-term well-being, not just a momentary escape. And I believe you have the strength within you to choose paths that will nurture and uplift you in the long run.


Asking “Why?” Seven Times

One coping skill I often recommend is the “Seven Whys”. It’s a method rooted in problem-solving, but it can be quite enlightening when applied to our feelings and reactions. Understanding the underlying causes of your emotions by asking “Why?” is an enlightening coping skill for suicidal thoughts.

When an overwhelming thought or emotion arises, ask yourself “Why?” — and then continue to ask “Why?” to each subsequent answer, aiming for seven times in total. This process isn’t about self-judgment or criticism; it’s about exploration and understanding.

For instance, if you’re feeling a strong negative emotion about a recent event:

  1. Why am I feeling this way? – Because I felt rejected.
  2. Why did I feel rejected? – Because my friend didn’t invite me to their gathering.
  3. Why does that make me feel rejected? – Because it makes me feel like I’m not valued.
  4. Why do I equate not being invited with not being valued? – Because in the past, isolation was a form of punishment for me.
  5. Why was isolation a punishment? – Growing up, I was often left alone when I did something wrong.
  6. Why does being left alone feel so significant? – I equate being alone with being unloved.
  7. Why do I believe being alone means being unloved? – Because I was taught love was conditional based on my actions.

By the seventh “Why?”, you might uncover deep-seated beliefs, past experiences, or patterns that contribute to your current feelings. Understanding these roots doesn’t necessarily erase the pain, but it can offer clarity and even guide future coping strategies or areas of personal growth.

During this process, please approach yourself with kindness and patience. The goal is to gain insight, not to place blame or create more distress. If ever the process feels too overwhelming, take a step back, breathe, and remember you can always approach it again when you feel ready or with the support of a professional.

Develop a Safety Plan

Developing a safety plan is a proactive coping skill for suicidal thoughts, helping you to manage crisis moments more effectively. It’s a way to prepare and remind yourself of the steps you can take to stay safe during crisis moments.

First, let’s identify your triggers or warning signs. These can be specific events, thoughts, feelings, or situations that tend to increase your distress. Being aware of these can help you act early and take steps to care for yourself before things escalate.

Next, list down people you can reach out to. This isn’t necessarily for therapeutic advice, but just someone who’ll be there—a friend, family member, or counselor. Sometimes, just knowing that you have someone who will pick up your call can be a huge comfort.

In addition, have a list of emergency contacts, like crisis helplines or local mental health services. It’s like keeping a first-aid kit; you might not always need it, but it’s good to have it handy. Also, consider listing some personal coping strategies—activities or actions that can calm you or shift your mindset, even if momentarily. These could be things we’ve discussed earlier, like deep breathing or going for a walk.

Lastly, try to ensure your environment is safe. If there are items around you that you might find harmful in a crisis moment, consider keeping them out of reach or entrusting someone with them.

Creating this plan is an act of self-care. It’s a promise to yourself that, even in the hardest moments, you’re equipped with tools and resources to help you navigate through. Remember, it’s okay to lean on this plan and to update it as you grow and learn more about what helps you best.



I have made mention of some 6 coping skills for suicidal thoughts, and I hope these strategies provide you with a bit more clarity and direction. But above all else, I want you to remember this: Your life has inherent value. There will be tough days, yes, but there will also be moments of joy, love, and countless experiences yet to unfold.

If ever you feel you’re drowning in the weight of your thoughts, please reach out. Sometimes, the bravest thing we can do is to ask for help, and there’s absolutely no shame in that. Life can be a tumultuous sea, but with the right tools and support, we can learn to navigate its waves.

Remember, there’s a whole world out here rooting for you, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. You are not alone in your journey, and I genuinely believe in your strength and resilience.

Ashinedu Diamond
Ashinedu Diamond

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