Suicide is the act of intentionally ending your life.

If you're reading this because you have, or have had, thoughts about taking your own life, it's important you ask someone for help. It's probably difficult for you to see at this time, but you're not alone and not beyond help.

Many people who have had suicidal thoughts say they were so overwhelmed by negative feelings they felt they had no other option. However, with support and treatment they were able to allow the negative feelings to pass.

Getting help

If you are feeling suicidal, there are people you can talk to who want to help:

  • speak to a friend, family member or someone you trust as they may be able to help you calm down and find some breathing space
  • call the Samaritans 24-hour support service on 116 123
  • go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department and tell the staff how you are feeling
  • contact NHS 111
  • make an urgent appointment to see your GP

Read more about getting help if you're feeling suicidal.

Worried someone else is suicidal

If you're worried that someone you know may be considering suicide, try to encourage them to talk about how they are feeling. Listening is the best way to help. Try to avoid offering solutions and try not to judge. 

If they've previously been diagnosed with a mental health condition, such as depression, you can speak to a member of their care team for help and advice.

Read more about suicide warning signs and how you can help someone with suicidal thoughts.

Why do some people take their own life?

There's no single reason why someone may try to take their own life, but certain things can increase the risk. 

A person may be more likely to have suicidal thoughts if they have a mental health condition, such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Misusing alcohol or drugs and having poor job security can also make a person more vulnerable.

It's not always possible to prevent suicidal thoughts, but keeping your mind healthy with regular exercise, healthy eating and maintaining friendships can help you cope better with stressful or upsetting situations.

Read more about the causes of suicide and preventing suicide.


Many people who self-harm don't want to kill themselves. Self-harming can be a kind of "survival strategy", providing a person with a way of coping with overwhelming emotions.

However, self-harming is usually a sign that a person needs immediate help and support.

Read about self-harm for more information and advice.

Depression and low mood

In this video, an expert describes the various levels of depression, the early warning signs and the treatments available.

Media last reviewed: 09/04/2014

Next review due: 09/04/2016

Page last reviewed: 09/02/2015

Next review due: 09/02/2017