The People You Would Leave Behind

“I’m a burden. They’ll be better off without me.”

“They’ll get over it.”

“Nobody will care that I’m gone.”

Do you tell yourself any of these things? Many people who think of suicide do. In fact, a leading expert in suicide research, Thomas Joiner Jr., PhD, writes that seeing yourself as a burden to others is a necessary condition for suicide to occur. 

I have to tell you, these sorts of statements are lies. Suicide is tricking you.

Depression falls for such tricks, and so do stress, intense shame, self hatred, and other feelings related to suicide. They cause irrational thoughts. Distorted thoughts. Thoughts that simply are not true – like that suicide is the only way out, or that a loved one will not care if you die or will easily get over it.

Suicide’s Lies

The biggest lie is that there is no way to end the pain except for suicide. Suicidal people get locked into this unlit closet in their head where, alone and suffering, they see only the darkness surrounding them. They forget that the closet is in a house with many more rooms, rooms without instruments of mental torture and isolation, perhaps even some rooms filled with sunshine and hope.

Another big lie is that people will be better off without you, or that they will not care. I recently heard a psychiatrist, Michael Bostwick, M.D., say that, in addition to killing its victim, “Suicide is always something done to other people.” I tell you this not to cause guilt or to convince you that you should stick around purely for the sake of other people. Rather, I say this to point out that what you tell yourself – what suicide tells you when it beckons – may well be false.

Are Other People Enough?

I am not condemning suicide as selfish or scorning people who die by suicide. If you are starving to death, is it selfish to do everything you can to get food? If you are being tortured, is it selfish to do what you can to escape?

When someone is in abject pain, their overriding need is to end the pain. They must think of themselves first, to stop hurting. And in the process, their thoughts deceive them, telling them that the only way to end their pain is death, and that the effects on others will be forgotten or slight.

Challenging the Lies

The question is, do you pay equal attention to the other side of possibility? That is, if you view suicide as neutral or even positive to others, do you also entertain the idea that you might be wrong?  

After realistically taking into account others’ pain, you may still decide that you cannot stay alive for others, that your own pain is too great to bear. If so, I hope you will consider that other ways exist to rediscover relief, hope, meaning, or whatever else will keep you alive.

For Those Who Think, with Guilt, of Those They Would Leave Behind

Unlike people who minimize the effects that their suicide would have on others, you might be all too aware of the devastation your suicide would wreak. And then you may feel all the worse for considering suicide as an option. But still suicide beckons, whether you want it to or not.

This is the nature of suicidal thoughts – the thoughts cannot be turned off through sheer will, just as nobody can will himself or herself to not have a heart attack or cancer. So, please, try not to blame yourself for the suicidal thoughts that come to you. At the same time, please keep in mind that you need not believe everything that suicide promises.

© Copyright 2013 Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW, All rights Reserved. Written For: Speaking of Suicide

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Note: I revised this post on June 10, 2013, after receiving input from Barb Hildebrand, a certified grief recovery specialist who runs the Facebook page Suicide Shatters. She expressed concern that my original post would inflict guilt in suicidal individuals by emphasizing that their suicide would hurt others. Such was never my intent. Instead, my intent was to show that beliefs about others’ reactions might well be wrong – what, in clinical terms, are called cognitive distortions. I hope that this revised post better illustrates my points.

For more information on how distorted thoughts can feed suicidality, see the excellent book by Susan Rose Blauner: How I Stayed Alive While My Brain was Trying to Kill Me.

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  1. Mar says:

    Whenever I think about what it would do to my kids, which is my biggest reason for staying here, it just feels like a burden. Like as in I have to stay for them. Not because my life’s going to get better, but because as their parent I must endure and stick around.
    I go to therapy, psychiatry, and have contacted an IOP and I have to admit I feel like I’m just destined to keep feeling this way forever. Contrary to perception, no one seems alarmed that I think about wanting to die. A lot.

  2. Jer says:

    Ultra-religious nutjob parents sheltered me so much I was a social outcast pretty much from first grade. Constantly told any career I expressed interest in was me living in a “fantasy world”. I was emotionally, socially and intellectually stunted until adulthood, and to this day I STILL can’t even hold small talk with anyone. I have no job, no friends, and I literally spend most of my day on the couch playing video games in a desperate attempt to escape my useless reality and pretend, for a while, that my existence actually means something. So yeah, if I was someone else, talking to me, I’d tell me to pull the trigger.

  3. Neha says:

    Feel ashamed even to write. I suffer from ocd and insomnia and depression and they have all got jumbled up. Life feels hopeless I was working for decided to stop that work so have no work. Left with no friends now. Have nothing to do . No interest & strength left either. Lack of sleep leaves me lost. Took allopathy then stopped for fear of addiction & rise in eye pressure. Took homeopathy but doesn’t work. Feel hopeless a burden on my parents & brother. Keep thinking of ending my life. Afraid of pain & putting my parents through torture. Then think of leaving & going away somewhere & roughing it out but where I don’t know. Feel stuck

  4. Chris says:

    I am struggling with everyday of suicide thoughts but never would do it!!? I have had pretty tough life but never used it as excuse. My childhood was bad with abuse and i was sexually abused by my aunt. Watch my mom hold shotgun to my dads head, knife to his throat and endless night of a destroyed house followed by days, weeks and months of fighting. Told myself i wouldn’t be victim anymore and moved out at age of 15. Nowhere to go but found a happy path in life. I live with 4 AMAZING ROOMMATES of buddies that help me enjoy life and helped me be the man i am today. Aaron, Eric, shawn, Paco and james. I was 15 living with another 15 year old paco my first roommate, 16 year old eric wouldn’t allow anything in life to hurt me or mess with me, shawn 21 james 23 and aaron 22. We were like a family of friends. They actually were big part of my life at one time and i think they know it. They just took good care of me and thing is i never once even had to ask. Its like they knew they should and im always be thankful for it. I never used my bad hand to be excuse EVER instead i made a good life for myself!! It has done damage to me and im trying to change the path of my last name. I might be messed up but my kids lives will be the new path i set them on. Just sometimes feel like im a burden to them. I dont abuse them or anything like that. Im moody and mentally in the messed up sometimes but i know they know i dont mean to be. Im trying to be better than sexual and physical abuse like i was custom to. I messed up and with my wife tho and i hurt hurt one day. I now have failed myself and my goals to change. I know my kids will be better than me but i let them know that their dad did something horrible to his wife. She has forgiven me and i will NEVER in my life be that person or man again. I have to live with this and when i see my BEST FRIEND, BUDDY, SOULMATE and MY EVERYTHING i know i will give her rest of my life of earning her respect, trust and love for rest of my life. Im lucky she had given me another chance and love me! I have great heart and very good guy. Just feel like im messed up due to other people being messed up and feel like i never got a chance to be the full man i should be. Its been messing with me a lot lately and im not sure why. I have suicide thought all the time but have no desire to do it. Just not sure why but i do.

  5. Unhappy says:

    I wouldn’t leave anyone behind. Mom died, only child and haven’t seen or heard from my dad in 13 years. I have no friends and I am single.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:


      I regret titling this post this way, because I don’t think we should try to guilt people into staying alive on the basis of the people they would leave behind. Likewise, I don’t think people who wouldn’t leave anyone behind have no reason to live, or to hope.

      I hope you will look inside yourself and your life for reasons to live. This post gives you some ideas to consider.

  6. Decisions says:

    I hate many decision I make an I feel hopeless when making those decisions sometimes I feel like disappearing but I have children that are not grown an doing well I don’t want to destroy their life because I want to take my own

  7. Matt says:

    I wouldn’t leave anyone behind. I have no responsibilities to anyone and I have no meaningful relationships with anyone. That’s not an issue for me. I don’t see how killing myself hurts anyone else. My life is only worth living if I want to live it. I’m not capable of meaningful relationships. My decision to kill myself is mine alone and only affects me.

  8. Misery says:

    I feel stuck.
    I followed the words of maya Angelou I didn’t like something so I tried changing it, if you can’t change it change your attitude -or something like that. I have tried again and again , to fake a positive attitude, try to be “happy”.. usually in return greeted by disinterest, or by people who wanted to play genuine til whatever off their addenda is done .
    I attempted to stop drinking-roughest 2 weeks of my life but I had been doing it! today as I was feeling my impending relapse I noted that I missed the warm burn of alcohol in my stomach that somehow numbed the dull ache of dissapointment that normally is there instead

    [This comment was edited to abide by the Comments Policy.]

  9. Joyce says:

    I have been thinking about suicide for a couple days now. I feel like my family is falling apart and that they don’t need me anymore or if they even care about me. This feeling had just recently snuck up on me because I feel like I’m the reason everything that goes wrong is my fault. I feel as if I’m the burden on the family and my friends, and even including other people. I have not felt like this for long though but I feel like it could relieve my family of more problems. Meaning they would not have to deal with my “drama” anymore because I feel as if I’m the reason they are always mad or stressed out.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I feel like the reason everything goes wrong in my house and that I’m the reason everyone hates each other. I have had something that I want to get off my chest and it is that I want to just leave this world and so I could be in a better place. My family has been fighting a lot with each other lately and I don’t know what to do so I feel like we are falling apart slowly because of someone and I feel like no body needs me anymore.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Great Article. Helpful for people to not condemn themselves for thoughts…they get stuck in a negative feedback loop. Glad this is available to people and I hope that more people read it. I have shared it on FB.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I have been thinking about suicide a lot lately. My father is destroying the family financially and emotionally because of his pill drug addiction, and my step mom is injured and can’t really walk, and doesn’t care about me. My older brother is in college and is going to drop out and maybe move to Colorado, where I won’t see him much or at all. No one cares about me anyway. It is only just going to get worse, and I am depressed most of the time. It would be so easy just to ahead with it, and I have been trying to get my hands on something that can kill me. I won’t be missed when I’m gone.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ever since the age 13 when raped by older sisters boyfriend he played a song on repeat then after he said don’t you say anything to anyone I was scared not just the outside but inside I have trouble trusting anyone not one person not even myself I tempted many times in my life and the things that held be back was myself the fact is I want heaven meet up with all your loved ones no pain pure joy paradise a place with out any judgement guilt suffering well I am 25 years old I do not have kids no job I do not have a license nor am I any good at driving but continue on about what I don’t have and how I feel from all the bull that people give me lies and pain I have been through so much and thoughts feelings pain is not and easy to have on your mind and heart your life I dropped out of school 2009 going back now 2017 and with everything I struggle with I have so much energy due to Adhd a mind with thoughts of not important worthless never amount to anything is even worse on a mind that never stops adhd if you dont know what goes up must come down I love people all everyone I try so hard to fit in with the crowd but always seem to lack one quality I am the kid that never shuts up hyper silly at times kind love nature and helping others but beneath my long hair which falls in my face is a face with a smile and warm heart I tend to carry a burden the smile only gave everyday is not for me but you everyone I carry lies that only must to protect you pain in my heart fills as I hold it all in everyday my yes everyone would be happier no one would even notice at school unless mentioned on news or something but they would move on eventually as we all do sometimes the worst is for the best I wont bother write complain to you anymore I will be better off gone most ones I love other don’t love me living there lives and most important of all god and my family hold me back I know my family would hurt as they will grow to heal over time and be happy again they will see that I was right some people’s purpose is not be. But heaven sounds great and tears of my family is not what I want. So I suffer day by day screaming to just let it all out finally take charge of something that has a purpose to make you all finally happy once the pain of my death sets in and slowly heals you will all be better without me in fact as many whom I loved already have erased me out of their lives or no words which hurts even more when all the pain sets in what has come of this world or was it as always when time for change when do things really gets easier you don’t get your prince and if you do you better appreciate it my carriage rolled over a cliff I quickly rolled out and left my slipper and heart but you know he knew I meant it but life is what it is .

  13. Tracey G says:

    Interesting, but not enough.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I was looking for ways to tell my family I am leaving. Sometimes it is the truth that loved ones are better without you. If you are an addict and have no money for treatment…

  15. Dom says:

    When loneliness has been your best bud for far too long, or always one paycheque away from being homeless, or no one calls to say Hello or ask how you are doing, severe bankruptcy, I mean the list can be endless.

    I believe that most people know nothing about the tipping point that sets someone to give up on life to just end it. To give the guilt trip about the people left behind is being ignorant on all levels.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I have no family who cares the only family I have remaining that has not cast me out is my father and aunt. Maybe one of my brothers. None of which would help me if they could. Quite frankly I’ve burned all the bridges I had to return. I was on a downward spiral with drugs. Completely reckless after my mother died. I was completely content on wasting myself away with drugs until I was gone myself. I met someone who made me no longer want to just keep destroying my life like this. I’ve gotten off all the hard drugs to keep her from going down this fuct up road. Truly I love her and I really wanted to help her be with her daughter again… But even after getting off the drugs I find myself relapsing with alcohol (which I might add is the worst drug of all). When I was on heroin and meth (and any other toxin I could put in my body) I never once put my hands on a female (or anyone for that matter). Now that I’m off all the other b.s. and find myself struggling with alcohol ( in a dry county) I beat her. For these reasons I believe it would be in the world’s best interest that I was dead. She says she needs me and want’s me to stay. But I think it would be better if I just left and continued my path of self-destruction without her or just off myself ASAP

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:


      Why must the only two options be to die or to remain self-destructive, addicted, and abusive? It seems to me that there is a third option: to work on change and recovery – that is, to work on getting off the booze, treating your partner the way you want to, and healing your grief about your mother’s death and your fractured relationships.

      I hope you will seriously consider that third option.

      In the meantime, please check out the Resources page for places where you can get help by phone, text, email, or online chat.

  17. koohai says:

    The same old prating nonsense. People who kill themselves ordinarily (not always) have DECADES of being uncared for by anyone, so the silly idea that someone, after decades, will give a care about you is baloney. If you are 56 years old, as I am, and NO ONE steps up to even reply to a letter or text from you, you can safely say no one would care if you died. Good grief, one of the foundations of counseling is not to bullshit people!

  18. Noname82 says:

    I’m thinking about doing it this weekend. I just can’t see a way out. I feel like a huge burden on everyone and everything. It would be better for everyone in the long run if I called it a day

    • Spongebob says:

      Hi Noname,

      Please, do not do this. I am here to tell you that it does get better. If you need someone, I will always be praying for you. Please, get help. Everyone on this planet is grateful for you.

    • Paul says:

      I hope that you’re still here with us, friend.

  19. uknzoz says:

    To say people would care is often a lie.

    Many people die and rot, their body is only found months, or even years, later.

    Ask any undertaker they will tell you there are many funerals where no one even knows the identity of the corpse.

    Many… many people go missing each year, some have just moved others have been murdered … they are never reported as missing because they have no one to notice.

    Sure some people do have people around who would care if they died, but many people would simply slip into dust unnoticed. There are others where people would be pleased if they were dead, they treated them with contempt and indifference while they were alive so would sneer at their death.

    This type of article is offensive and dishonest.

  20. Colin says:

    I’m happy to leave this life, not saddened, but the thought a blissful one! Peace/nothing to think or do, no longer exist!
    I worked hard all my life and tired of the day to day struggle, yes planned things and getting my house in order, to the point of all my rubbish cleared from the garage, paperwork up to date, will or that sort of thing.

  21. Anonymous says:

    The world is better without me I wish I were dead, no one will care they will live their lives better

  22. Doug says:

    Am 54 years old and was laid off from a job in July I thought was secure. Just had 11 more years to retirement but now I fear due to age bias I will never work again.Have become hopeless and depressed and think about suicide everyday. My Dr treats me with anti-depressants and my family and friends want me to live but am in so much pain and hurt over my job loss and at times death seems a better option that to live in constant sadness
    and fear about my financial future Stacey I don’t know what to do. You say life is worth living but I feel so lost and just want to my hurt and pain go away.

  23. eyaru2 says:

    I have no escape. Because I have to push myself into mentally and physically tiring situations to earn the money I need for counseling. So basically I have to work a job, get triggered and beaten down by my thoughts, to earn money to see a doctor. Basically in order to get help I have to willfully torture myself. I want to write so much more. Tell whoever might stroll by my life story. Pour my heart out but I just can’t. I am not well in this world. I am behind the social curve, weak in body… I just want it all to stop.

  24. Anonymous says:

    So I debated on commenting, but here it goes. My life has been very uneventful. The only thing that is wonderful is my 8 year old son. I love him dearly. Recently I have been having major anxiety and depression. My son is my whole world and my existence. My sons father has taken my son away from me and so I feel worthless. I have suicidal thoughts. I have no where to live and when I have spoken to my mother about these issues, she has pretty much told me that she can’t do anything about it. She tells me that I have always had problems, and that she and my dad are old and not in good health. My oldest brother passed away going on 3 years ago, and I think about him everyday. I miss him so much. It has made me start thinking why should i be alive.

  25. Danielle says:

    I’m seriously thinking about suicide. I’m all alone. If I died today nobody would know me or claim me. I have no family or friends. I lived in and out of shelters for 8 years since I aged out of foster care. I rent a room and have been kicked out houses more than 30 times. I can’t keep a place to live for more than 2 months. I can’t get, keep a job. I live on disability. I’m 27 years old. I have severe mental health problems. My life is in constant turmoil and I’m not a productive member of society. This is living hell for me. Walking outside in nyc is a depressing. I truly understand why people commit suicide. I really do. I also believe it’s unfair for me to live life like this. I’ll end up in potter’s field in hart island. For anyone reading this just know that some people really are living in hell. A hell you have no idea. Some people reading this have things that I’ll never have. Everyone has more than me. I have nothing. My life is a waste. It’s selfish to be alive keeping myself in this much pain.

  26. John Morrell says:

    Suicide is not an entity. “It” has no thoughts or ambitions; no desire to “trick” anyone. Your childish attempt to anthropomorphize suicide into a sinister villain (no doubt with horns, cloven hooves and a pitchfork) exposes the shallow bankruptcy of your thinking.

    Abandon the idea that every person who contemplates suicide is defective. While it may be true in the vast majority of cases, it is plainly not true in every case. Your efforts should be directed at distinguishing those who are in possession of their faculties from those who are not, and helping the latter.

    Leave the rest of us alone, if you don’t mind.

  27. Anonymous says:

    The suicide hotline is worthless

    • Wyatt says:

      My realization: Society has defined purposes that are completely illusionary to what life should be about. I’m about to be a fourth year mechanical engineering student. I have been philosophical in nature. Throughout my life, I have come to realization about the lies that are fed to us by every single person in life. Our world is only an illusion, created by our own brains. I was raised as a Catholic. I have come to realization that religion is just another way for our brains to lie to themselves to keep them sane from the lie we’re already living. We go to school just to become professionals in jobs that were created from these illusions. An illusionary media that feeds the fire of lies; an illusionary goal that we follow creates an illusionary path that we must follow. To say that we do not need this illusionary path is ignorant, as you as just following a path that I’ve created. You see? We live in a world where we lie to ourselves to keep us from reaching negativity, especially truth. Even it I keep trying to live this lie, I will only suffer. There will never be a point in time, when I’ll look at this lie, and I see something positive. It is not God who saved this passengers on that plane. It was the pilot who saved those passengers. Illusion of the obvious

    • Anonymous says:

      I also agree with this

  28. ANSWERS says:

    I just need to know the financial responsibilities and burdens that are required by federal, state, city, etc that the family must take care of once the suicide action has already taken place???

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      “Answers,” I don’t understand your question, because suicide is no different than any other death in terms of the affairs that must be put in order afterward. But the important thing I see in your words is that you are thinking through all the details for suicide. Assuming your question is reference to your own planning, I urge you to talk with someone. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at any time, at 1.800.273.8255 (TALK). I also list places to call, text, or chat online for help, on the Resources section of this website:

    • K says:

      I wonder this also. Do my debts become someone else’s responsibility? Do credit cards/mortgages write off the debt?

  29. Anonymous says:

    I’m looking for help please. I used to love my life.

    Money problems are my issue.

    I have a disabled wife that can never work.

    Her adult son that is living with us is retarded and can’t get a job and will be here for life.

    I now have “brain fog” and can’t do my job properly

    Medical bills just keep adding up at about $100,000 right now and add up to about $1,000 per month.

    Money has been is draining quickly over the pas 10 years ( about $600,000 )

    I feel that I want to end it all soon just to get out of this nightmare

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:


      Your situation sounds incredibly difficult, both financially and emotionally. And there are other ways to “get out of this nightmare” besides death. Please consider calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and discussing your feelings with one of the trained counselors there. They are available 24/7 at 1.800.273.8255 (TALK). You can also get help by email, phone, text, or chat from many other places, which I list in the Resources section .

  30. Mooneyn says:

    I have had suicidal thoughts lately…but I can’t tell my parents because they are already struggling as my father put it “This is your fault.” which I’m not saying it isn’t but those words hit me hard and I thought about throwing myself out of a moving vehicle I felt so bad. But he doesn’t know how I’m feeling so I can’t blame him. And I can’t talk to a psychiatrist because it’s too expensive. I also don’t want to tell my mom or my brother because it would make them worry because they love me so much. My dad too but I feel so conflicted right now it’s hard to find the words to say that’s why this is a massive run-on sentence. I just can’t help the way. I feel I just…I don’t know anymore. It’s not like I’ll actually do it. I’m too much of a worthless brat to do it and I just like to whine instead of fixing my mentality.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Here’s the reality of what suicide does: those you want to hurt least will be traumatized for the rest of their lives; those you want to hurt most will feel vindicated by your decision; the burdens you felt you couldn’t cope with become the burdens of those who loved you most; and your memory will be desecrated to everyone.

    It’s been more than 10 years since my dad’s suicide. I will have to suffer with the consequences of his suicide for the rest of my life. His suicide shredded the family. It is the sucker punch that continues to leave me periodically trying to catch my breath.

    • the dog says:

      And perhaps this is the problem. You’re thinking of yourself, and not of his plight. Nobody thought of him.

  32. Hopeless and invisible says:

    “Many people who think of suicide hate themselves, or think they are a bad person, or think they deserve to die. So “guilting them” about how they would hurt others could cause shame or guilt that is not constructive.” EXACTLY. So many people have hung on and endured their hell far longer than most “healthy” people could ever imagine only because they didn’t want to cause that pain and guilt in their loved ones that you describe. Recognize it for the desperate act that it is. It may seem selfish to you but unless you’ve been there, you can’t pass judgement.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Excellent points, “Hopeless and Invisible.” Thank you for sharing!

  33. Randall P. Robinson says:

    We are worried that your post might “inflict guilt in suicidal individuals by emphasizing that their suicide would hurt others.” Really?! Perhaps, suicidal individuals might just need a good healthy dose of reality to deter them from their act. If saddling my late son with a moment of hesitancy in considering the effect that his suicide would have on the entire family, then I’m all for it. Instead, I am the one left with the never-ending guilt over, perhaps, not having done enough to have prevented the death of my 15 year-old son. I’m quite convinced that he never gave any serious thought to the devastating consequences that his death would have on his family and friends. I have forgiven him for not giving adequate thought or consideration to the hurt he would cause others by indulging him the benefit of the doubt in assuming that he was too locked in his own inner pain to be able to see beyond it; but, in my judgment, we should do everything in our power to convince suicidal people that their voluntary departure will be welcomed by no one and will, instead, inevitably burden them with the same kind of suffering that their loved one seeks to escape.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Randall, thank you for sharing. I’m so sorry to hear about your 15 year old son. The consequences are indeed devastating, both for the youth who die by suicide and the families and friends who must now deal with their feelings of intense pain, guilt, anger, and more.

      You bring up very good, very painful points. If a person’s love for others serves as a deterrent to their suicide, if they do worry about the legacy of grief, guilt, and suffering they would leave their loved ones, then by all means, that deterrent should be emphasized. Whatever works!

      The problem comes when somebody is, as you put it so well, “too locked in his own inner pain to be able to see beyond it” and reminders of how they would hurt others make them feel even worse, not deterred but even more resolved to die. Many people who think of suicide hate themselves, or think they are a bad person, or think they deserve to die. So “guilting them” about how they would hurt others could cause shame or guilt that is not constructive (e.g., “How could I even think of doing that? I’m a bad person.”) On the other hand, for many people that guilt or concern is constructive – it keeps them alive. So it is a delicate balance.

      My goal in this article was to balance reality (people care about you more than you can realize right now, don’t believe otherwise, they will be hurt) with empathy (you are hurting desperately, and your pain is so great that you are thinking only of ending your pain). Again, it is a delicate balance!

    • Moe says:

      I agree we need to hear that we are really loved and needed and will be missed. I know for my 3 times, I just thought (honestly felt) that I was more trouble to anyone than I was worth. Why stick around and keep making those I love miserable?

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Moe, you put into words very well the things that suicide wants people to believe – that family and friends will be better off without you. Were you able to check out your convictions with those you felt you were making miserable?

      It is in fact very hard for loved ones to watch as someone endures suicidal thoughts, perhaps even attempts suicide, perhaps even makes multiple suicide attempts. But it is the *illness* or *situation* that trigger suicidal thoughts – not the person who is their victim – that are causing misery.

      Thank you for sharing. Your words speak well to the ideas that suicidal people can have that, sadly, they are nothing but a burden to others. It is certainly important to convey to individuals who consider suicide that they are loved and valued, without implying (or directly stating) that they should feel guilty and are selfish for wanting to die.

  34. Laura says:

    I have been struggling with this myself for it seems like a long time. I’ve been on meds, through therapy, and some things have helped but I think stress is a major factor for me.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Hi Laura, I’m sorry to hear you’ve been struggling for a long time. It’s hard! I hope that meds or therapy (or both) have provided some help. Stress is a big factor. Do you try any meditation or relaxation techniques? Jon Kabat Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program could be helpful. He and others have books on MBSR on, including the book called (appropriately enough) A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook. If you have tips for others about what you’ve found helpful, please feel free to share!