Talking Back to Suicidal Thoughts

Suicidal thoughts take different forms. Some politely knock on the door. You let them in, entertain them a bit, and then they leave.

But suicidal thoughts can also be most unwelcome. In such cases, you do not want to think of suicide. The thoughts still come. They invade. They refuse to leave.

So What Can You Do about Suicidal Thoughts?

There are several paths you can follow if you want to stop thinking of suicide. Here are some of them:

You can learn to talk back to the suicidal thoughts.

You can learn to observe the thoughts, without feeling the need to act on them.

You can distract yourself from the suicidal thoughts.

You can seek help, whether from friends, family, professionals, or others.

You can explore the possibility of medication.

None of these options is mutually exclusive. Each complements the other. Over time, I will write a separate post about each approach. For now, I will concentrate on talking back to suicidal thoughts.

 Talking Back to Suicidal Thoughts

A central premise of cognitive behavioral therapy is that people tend to equate their feelings and thoughts with facts. We rarely question what we think. So, if you think, “My situation is hopeless,” you probably believe 100% that your situation is hopeless.

What if it is not actually true?

There is an adage in therapy, one so popular that books have used it as their title:

“Don’t believe everything you think.”

If you think your life is hopeless, if you think things will never get better, if you think you deserve to die – whatever it is you think, if it causes you pain or imperils your safety, ask yourself:

“Is what I’m thinking or feeling a fact?”

Be honest with yourself. While it might feel true, is there any possibility that the condemning thought you are having is in fact false?

Often, you simply cannot know for sure that your thought is true. In these cases, it is helpful to remind yourself that your thinking might be wrong.

For example, sometimes a client will say to me, “I’m going to be alone and miserable the rest of my life.” Notice how different it feels to say, instead, “I fear I’m going to be alone and miserable the rest of my life.” One is presented as a fact, the other a feeling.

Another major premise of cognitive behavioral therapy is that what we tell ourselves directly influences how we feel and act. So, if we change what we tell ourselves, we can also change our feelings and behaviors.

(A Few) Helpful CBT Questions 

Cognitive behavioral therapists have hundreds, perhaps thousands, of questions to draw from to help you tease out thoughts and feelings from facts. Here are a few important ones:

“What is the evidence that this thought is true?”

“What is the evidence that it is not true?”

“What is a different way of looking at this?”

 Looking for the Other Side of the Story

Your mind might assail you with thoughts of all the things that are bad about you or your life – all the things you have done wrong, all the ways your life is wrong, all the reasons that nothing will get better.

Does your mind give equal time and attention to the qualities in you or your life that are reasons for hope? Focusing on your reasons for living or creating a hope box are ways to give equal time to the aspects of your life that can weaken suicide’s pull.

You may protest that there actually is nothing good or hopeful in your life. If you think of suicide, you are in incredible pain. That pain may be exacerbated by stigma, isolation, and self blame. Amid such suffering, it can be hard to find redeeming qualities about yourself or your life.

Remember, if you seriously consider suicide, it is as if you are locked in a totally dark closet. The closet contains tools and gifts and other resources. But you cannot see them. They are hidden by the darkness of depression or despair or whatever other state of mind has settled in.

Questions to ask yourself here can include:

“What strengths have I had in the past that I can call on now?”

“What has helped me get through hard times before?”

“What (or who) could help me now?”

“What are my reasons for living?”

“What can I do about the situation that does not involve hurting or killing myself?”

Self-Compassion amid Suicidal Thoughts

Talking back to your suicidal thoughts and your more general negative thoughts can help you build compassion toward yourself. In his book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, the author, psychiatrist David Burns, writes that we all have a prosecutor living inside our head, and few of us have a defense attorney.

It can be hard at first to defend yourself. It might feel unnatural. The best way to develop a counterattack against the negative and suicidal thoughts is to ask yourself this question:

“What would I tell a friend or someone else I love if they were in this exact situation and were thinking of suicide?”

 Tying It All Together

Chances are you would be much more compassionate toward a loved one than you are toward yourself. Ask yourself, what would it be like if you treated yourself the way you treat a person you love or care deeply about?

Even if you don’t stop thinking of suicide altogether, you can at least work to protect, soothe, and help yourself in the same way that you would for another person you love.*


Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW, is the author of “Helping the Suicidal Person: Tips and Techniques for Professionals,” a psychotherapist and consultant, and an associate professor at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work.*

© Copyright 2013 Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW, All Rights Reserved. Written for Photos purchased from

Want to join the conversation?


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

63 Reader Comments

Trackback URL Comments RSS Feed

  1. Douglas says:

    My partner Robbie hung himself back in August of 2018. The pain is unbearable. I’ve seen 3 psychiatrists and 8 therapists. Nothing helps. The pain won’t stop it will never stop. I cry all day long. I know I will commit suicide the pain is too much. It’s just a matter of time before I break and do it. And I know it is coming soon and I will be glad when this is done with

  2. Tammy says:

    I don’t feel worthy

  3. mary says:

    please, more articles

  4. Jennifer James says:

    Love this. Thank you!

  5. Janet Gerl says:

    Awww Ryan. Thank you for the message from Peter. I can hear him telling me “mom it’s not your fault”. He would for sure say that. Thank you Ryan. You are a gifted person. You are brilliant and special. I’m glad I met you. I’m grateful for our internet friendship😇.

  6. Janet Gerl says:

    There is so much to learn and I’m learning there is much we can do to help someone who is suicidal. My son didn’t share. Only a week prior to his suicide did he mention the word. Only a week to let that sink in to my mind and experience and make a plan to help. I wish I’d have had some time to education my self and help him form a plan. I do wonder however, after he quit his medication (by choice in an effort to see if he could go it without) and then realized he needed medication and was put back on …. I do think that was the circumstance that caused his abrupt decision. Going off and getting back onto medication is a crucial time. During that time his decision was made and we lost him. I just didn’t have enough time.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:


      I’m so sorry for your loss. How agonizing it must be, and then there are so many questions. I have some posts on this site specifically for people who have lost somebody they love to suicide; they are here:

      I also post a list of resources for suicide loss survivors here:

      Thank you for sharing here.

    • Ryan says:

      Janet im sorry that this has happened, do you have any other children. I like your son am taking Risperdol for Schizophrenia, PTSD, OCD and Panic attacks and stopped taking it, im (39 btw). Risperdal builds up in your brain and since the 2 voices in my head and the hallucinations stopped I am trying to cleanse my brain from the medication, it makes it feel like their is a lead weight in your brain. Zoloft made me have even more suicidal feeling so I had to stop taking that. I can tell you that him stopping was most likely not the reason. It was his inner Demons and feeling of hopelessness that he could not fight any more. I am going through the same thing. There is sometimes where Love, Prayer, Medication, Therapy, cannot help. Coping in small baby steps and a few other things are the only things keeping me alive right now. Love Ryan.

    • Janet says:

      Ryan. Your post didn’t offer a Reply option. I hope you read this. Thank you for reaching out to me and responding. What is depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, etc? Why do these things exist? I have nothing but compassion for all the pain my son experienced. I have nothing but compassion for you Ryan. I don’t understand the human condition and why we must suffer so. But yours and my sons suffering is so debilitating. Why? If I could help I would. If I could change this I would. I want to recognize your pain and honor and respect your daily struggle with it. If compassion could heal and cure, you would be cured. Know that I am aware and think about you and others with your struggles. It’s not much but I am aware. Love Janet💕

    • Ryan says:

      Janet, as to your question they are one and many things depression and bipolar disorder are usually caused by lack of serotonin or dopamine levels in the brain that is either genetic or caused by a loss of hope and energy in the body and the brain.

      OCD can be caused by trauma and makes people have irrational thoughts that if they think they don’t act upon them they will not enjoy their day or lives, it can be just pure neurosis or develop into psychosis. PTSD is very close to OCD where you dwell on the thoughts of the past willingly or un-willingly and it can develop into a neurosis or develop into psychosis where your reality can warp like in Schizophrenia.

      Last but not least is Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia can cause such a paranoid delusion that you are being followed all day long and your thoughts are being projected and read by others and you dont know what is real or not. With Schizophrenia you can believe really strange things and hear really strange things, sometimes you think that you are the cause of them.

      I can give you an 3 examples when I see everyone swiping their phones they are reading about me or there is 2 voices, 1 female and man telling me to kill myself everyday. Sometimes I let people into my house that aren’t there or wake up next to someone thinking its someone else.

    • Ryan says:

      Janet what was his first name? Janet you had only 1 week so that was hard but if this happens again if you have any other children you have to dig deep and forcefully and ask why they are feeling this way. I really need my mom right now even though we lost contact I need her 24/7 now because of how suicidal I am. thats why I am very very sorry your baby is not with you anymore. I pronounce more even than being sorry right now for you, that I regret that he is not here. May in time somehow you’ll be made whole and his spirit will be at rest. Love always Ryan.

    • Janet says:

      Ryan, My son’s name was Peter. the only negative or tragedy he had in his childhood and adolescent was when he got in trouble. It was as though he was a daredevil and didn’t have good reasoning skills. He was a great kid. Smart, loving, enthusiastic, and seemed happy. I’m not a disciplinarian and raised my children by the philosophy that knowing they did wrong and having consequences and knowing his dad and I weren’t happy with his choices was enough punishment for him. He was a carpenter/woodworker and made fine furniture. Very talented. He married a lovely woman and had two beautiful children. Someone on the outside would have thought he had everything a man could wish for. He had a older sister and they got along really well. Peter knew his dad and I loved him to the ends of the earth. But he did indeed suffer from anxiety and depression. He was bipolar. Knowing how fortunate he was, knowing his childhood and having a great family life make it so so hard to understand and accept. But serotonin and dopamine levels? Yes, I know low levels can cause down in the dumps and maybe extremely low levels down right depression/bipolar/schizophrenia. But still I think there’s something else science doesn’t understand. You say that you are at a bad place right now, how long will this last. Do you see a pattern? I have a nephew who battles bipolar/depression. He gets stable for a while and then crashes. He is 36 and lives with his parents. He can’t hold down a job. He doesn’t like people looking at him. He’s tried all types of medication and is just done with it. My sister, his mom, shakes her head when I talked about things we could have tried for Peter. She just doesn’t think anything will change things. But I do know if Peter had shared with his struggles, i would not have stopped trying.

    • Ryan says:

      All of the things you said sound like you were good parents and he could of had troubles in childhood you did not know about. Some bad things could have happened to him and he had some inner demons that he might or not told his wife. Was he financially stable? There is no real, or will ever be any scientific explanation to Peter. Was he taking any medication? Setting aside
      the anxiety and depression, the low levels of seratonin and dopamine since he was bipolar would to me in his situation only exasperated his problems but not pushed him off the edge. You need to talk to his wife and tell her that you will not judge her, but ask if there was any intrusive thoughts he was having or things he said to her before he took his life.

      You asked if I am in a bad place right now and how long will it last. My parents divorced when I was 5 I suffered from great trauma and abuse and am still struggling with the those things and it is the lack of energy from being told you’re a idiot, moron like your mother for so many years by my father that caused me to lose the will to live. For me it has lasted 30 years.

      As you asked if I see a pattern, I do see a pattern of having no self value but I have been trying to stay alive for a reason that I don’t know, to do baby steps like washing my clothes and brushing my teeth and helping others that keeps me going. I live each day with no hope, joy or happiness, barely surviving myself and helping others around me is my only goal to success.

      You said you have a nephew that is bipolar and doesn’t like people looking at him, Risperdal would help with that but only for a couple months because it becomes too sedative and builds up in the brain. Xanax has helped for anxiety since I stopped the Risperdal .

      Once again I’m sorry this happened but you still have a older daughter that might need some help too, take care and Lots of Love, Love Ryan

    • Janet says:

      Ryan, I think that mental illness has many classifications. Take Narcissism, I do think that’s a form of mental illness. Don’t you suppose that when a person is dealing with a mental illness, they look for reasons WHY? And if they have had hardship in their past they can conclude, that’s why I have troubles being OK, because of the trauma I’ve gone through has messed with my head. But if someone doesn’t have anything in particular they can pin point as the REASON they have to look elsewhere. My son was trying to hard to “figure this out” I think he felt there was no valid reason for him to not be “happy”, to feel “good” so he struggled for answers and thought maybe I just need to go it alone. maybe if I just get off these damn drugs I’ll be OK. So he tried that, and then realized it more than that, just because I have a life that should cause me to be happy and content isn’t enough for me to be happy and content because I have mental health issues. I think he knew he was a pretty lucky guy in all earthly respects. I think he was confused with “so why am I so miserable?” I can see I have every reason to be happy. But because of imbalances and whatever else they learn about some day in the future….. he couldn’t find his own happiness. That is what I struggle with as a parent. I keep trying to find where am I to blame. Surely my child’s happiness is largely to do with me and my decision making. But I look around and I think it’s more than that. I see people going through terrible childhoods and they come out living a fairy normal life. Once they can realize it wasn’t their problem, it was their parents, their family, their environment BUT it wasn’t them. They are just as wonderful and as beautiful as any other person on this planet. They can go forward and dump all the baggage of their childhood. Well a good portion of it anyway. There are always scars. I guess what I’m saying is, I don’t think it is necessarily BAD things happening that ruins a person’s happiness. I think depression, schizophrenia and most mental illness is way more than what happened or happens to you.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:


      I’m very sorry about your son’s suicide. It’s heartbreaking to read that you have struggled to find where you are to blame. I hope you will take a look at my post “If Only”: Self-Blame After a Loved One’s Suicide.

      It sounds like you have found at least a measure of peace in the realization that suicide and mental illness go beyond a person’s childhood and parenting. There are so many factors at play, many of which we may never know.

      There rarely (if ever) is a logical explanation for suicide or mental illness. In hindsight, yes, someone might say,”Oh, so-and-so was abused as a child – or they became addicted to opiates – or they served in combat – and that’s why they died by suicide.” But the reality is that millions of people survive childhood abuse, opiate addiction, or combat – to name just a few examples – without going on to die by suicide. The best we can tell, suicide and mental illness each are the end product of many different factors, which might include genetics, biology, early trauma, environmental stress, sleep deprivation, substance use, and so on.

      I wonder if you’ve connected with a support group for people who have lost a child to suicide. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the American Association of Suicidology both have listings of support groups. You can find those links and other resources at

      Thanks to both you and Ryan for your respectful and compassionate discussion.

    • Ryan says:

      Stacey Freedenthal, Yes some survive, others do not I am one of the people that is just barely hanging on because of those things, I don’t know how long I will be able to hang on after 30 years of suicidal thoughts and trauma. Genetics do play a role but lack of contact with your mother for someone to speak to, it doesn’t matter how old you are has a major role. Yes some people just shrug off their lives and are able to build almost perfect beautiful new ones. That is because they abandoned the parts of their family that were miserable and or were a lot stronger to deal with things.

      “There rarely (if ever) is a logical explanation for suicide or mental illness”
      in some case yes but if you dig down deep there is in belief an explanation for both.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:


      It’s sad that you’ve suffered for so long, and that you don’t have contact with your mother. That’s heartbreaking. And yet I see what you do here on this website. Even with all your pain, you reach out to help others. That you can try to help others live when you yourself find living to be so painful is an amazing feat. I hope that you will keep trying to help others … including yourself.

      And I hope you will let others help you. You probably already know this, but in case not, there are places you can get help right now by phone, text, email or online chat. I list them on my site at

      Thank you for all you do here to offer hope to others!

    • Ryan says:

      Janet what Stacey said was right and I can add more too that. From what you told me you were a really good mother. Also from what you told me Peter was doing good with work had a loving wife and 2 kids who he loved. “I keep trying to find where am I to blame” I will never try to say you were the one to blame because your not. I have been on the edge of suicide almost everyday for 20 years so I think that I’m more than qualified to help you with this.

      I don’t know how old his kids are, and I don’t know when, only you know that there will be a time that you can share conversations you had with him and show them family albums of him. Of course young kids you have to handle with kids gloves with some things. I don’t know if kids should ever know the truth of something like this.

      I can do 2 things for you one is, I can help you how to heal your self and have less guilt and some peace of mind from this horrible thing that I’m so sorry that happened.

      The other thing I can do which I will do right now, is help you find Peter again. You and his father were and always will be part of his DNA and Spirit. I know you feel rightly so that you lost your baby and it makes me cry all the time thinking about Peter but you have to think that you gained something also, his DNA and Spirit lives in you. As the years go by you can keep his memory alive by talking about him and reaching out in prayer and in mindfullness that part of his spirit will always be with you.

      You can ask some of his close friends if he had any if he ever talked about unhappy thoughts or of suicide to them. Also you can look at his text messages and go through any social media post if he had one that might help to better understand. The last thing which I mentioned earlier which you didn’t say you are going to try, not try or did was talk to his wife and ask her not judging her, was there any un-happy thoughts or thoughts of suicide he discussed with her because your looking to better to understand.

      You and Stacey hit the nail on the head on many of your thoughts.

      I’ll answer this question you asked me “Don’t you suppose that when a person is dealing with a mental illness, they look for reasons WHY?”
      They usually know the reasons why but try to get through it on their own or sometimes they reach out for help with the stress or trauma or whatever there going through.

      “so why am I so miserable? I can see I have every reason to be happy.
      he couldn’t find his own happiness.” When he told you the week before he was feeling suicidal did you ask him any questions that week of why he was feeling that way?

      “I see people going through terrible childhoods and they come out living a fairy normal life. Once they can realize it wasn’t their problem, it was their parents, their family, their environment BUT it wasn’t them. They are just as wonderful and as beautiful as any other person on this planet. They can go forward and dump all the baggage of their childhood. Well a good portion of it anyway.”
      Yes on the outward that may seem to be but I can give you an example my sister went through some of the things I went through and has built a wonderful life full of kids and seems on the outside to be doing fine but is on Lexipro for Anxiety and depression. I on the other hand went through a lot more than she did and am not dealing well with things.

      “I guess what I’m saying is, I don’t think it is necessarily BAD things happening that ruins a person’s happiness. I think depression, schizophrenia and most mental illness is way more than what happened or happens to you.” For maybe your son yes but for me no, For me it’s a combination of the both.

      Here is last thing I will add that Stacey did not seem to add and I don’t know if she understands this. I speak this from a suicidal view point that is hard to understand. There comes a point in a persons life that has nothing to do with happiness, genetics, mental illness, stress, trauma or lack of anything, that they say I have experienced enough in life and there is nothing else to learn or feel and it’s just time for me to go, it feels like there is no thrill in life and it loses meaning. That is just one of the extra feelings I feel and maybe Peter felt that too. I love you a whole lot, Ryan

    • Ryan says:

      Janet one last thing if you need help with the first part of my comment. How are you holding up? Are you having problems with depression too now? Are you having any suicidal thoughts now too? Are you having a hard time functioning now too?

      I am here for you and will do my best to help you as in the same way I love my mother I love you too.

    • Janet says:

      Ryan you are a beautiful and amazing human being I know this just by looking at the universe. You’re a miracle. You’ve had life situations that have made you sad , paranoid. But life situations don’t stop the fact that you are an amazing being. It’s our mind. Curse the mind. We think things and we get anxiety about things. Our mind literally drives us crazy. If there’s a god why did he curse us with this mind. My son went to a wedding week before he killed himself. We danced. We went in the funny faces booth and had pictures taken. A week later he shot himself. What the hell?! I think we would be better off if we were like animals. Just think in the moment. Don’t think about the past or the future. It’s just now. I think about people like you and my son and ask WHY? What for. If there is a higher being I don’t like it very much. Why do this to innocent people. It’s torture isn’t it. How cruel. What if you could disconnect from your brain and start over!! Start fresh! Sounds good right? If a psychologist could have helped my son I’d have paid anything to help him. I only wish he’d have shared more and given me a chance.

    • Janet says:

      Just read your last post Ryan. Thank you. My son did talk to his wife a lot about his struggles. She has shared them with me. She has reassured me that he loved me and his dad to the ends of the earth. I think he really respected us and loved us. We loved him to the ends of the earth. Would have done anything for him. I only wish he would have shared more with me about his struggles. I would have done anything to help him. Anything. Sometimes I think he didn’t want to worry us. I only know that the only thing that can fix my broken heart is if we could get him back. And that’s an impossibility

    • Janet says:

      “Janet one last thing if you need help with the first part of my comment. How are you holding up? Are you having problems with depression too now? Are you having any suicidal thoughts now too? Are you having a hard time functioning now too?”
      RYAN. See what an amazing caring person you are?! This world needs more people like you. I am so frustrated that you don’t have a strong will to live and a deep down happiness. I told my son once “you have everything any man would wish for. Beautiful wonderful wife, two beautiful healthy children and a successful career. But you just can’t see that “. And he just seemed puzzled. Like he couldn’t even understand what I was saying. It’s so sad.

    • Ryan says:

      I sorry your heart is so broken it makes my so sad. I am not a good person as Peter was I wish that I could trade my life for his.

    • Janet says:

      I’m sorry Ryan. I’m not much help to you. I wish I could help. I really do. I wish you could see the good person that you are. We are all beautiful just by being here. We are all precious. You are so very precious. I wish I could help. You deserve help. No matter what happens you are loved by random compassionate people. There are many of us. Anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide has deep compassion
      for your life’s situation. And there are many of us. Love Janet

    • Ryan says:

      Janet, thank you for the kind words, My life was ruined as a child and I have ruined other people’s lives there seems like there is no forgiveness in this life especially since I don’t forgive myself. If there is forgiveness in this life then what I am doing in my head is wrong and counting down the days until I am killed by the lives I’ve ruined and or when I finally decide I don’t deserve to live anymore. I have asked God for forgiveness of my life and have repented and I hope that is enough to keep me alive.

      God please forgive those that have done great harm to me and broken my mind and forgive me for what I have done. I don’t want to die like this I have been online trying to stop people from killing themselves but I think Lucifer wants me to die and I am so scared I dont want to die, I don’t want to shoot myself or take pills to kill me.

      I am trying so hard to be a good person now and fight off my demons but they want my blood and my life for the things I done, which might not be the worst things people do but I have still ruined peoples lives and for that I try not to listen to Lucifer but he tells me my time is almost up and the longer I wait the more things will get worse.

      Please Janet and Stacey can you pray for me the way I pray for you both, whether you believe in God or not, the demons told me that I will be stabbed to death if I don’t take my life and Lucifer laughed and said if he doesn’t kill himself we will “peel the flesh off his bones.” I need both of your help this is how I feel most days for the last 20 years.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Ryan, your mind is in a dangerous place. It is telling you things that are not true, and it sounds like you are believing its lies. I’m grateful you’ve reached out here, and I hope we’ve been of some help to you. But right now it sounds like you need even more help. Can you call your psychiatrist and let them know what the entity that you perceive to be Lucifer is telling you? Please also consider calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255. And Ryan, if the voice you hear is so compelling — or becomes so compelling– that you feel compelled to try to kill yourself, please instead call 911. You can tell them straight up that your mind is trying to murder you, because it would be true. Please do one or more of these things, OK Ryan?

    • Janet says:

      I do not believe in God. I am an atheist. So when I hear you talk about God and Lucifer, it sounds like craziness to me. God is the ultimate “blame game”. You’re never good enough. Unless you are so extremely obsessed about being good enough to please God but even then you’re trapped because you’ll never be good enough My son knew I wasn’t a believer. He questioned too. I let my children make their own decision about faith. I just told them what I thought and told them to make their own decision. Of course kids are always influenced by their parents. But I was totally ok with whatever they decided/believed. I’m so sorry your mind tells you these things. Thank you for giving me insight into my son’s mind. Reading what you write tells me you are not thinking rationally and neither was he. Your mind take something and spins it into a terrible thing. At one point my son said to me “mom I’ve done some terrible things”. Now knowing what you have helped me to know I’m pretty sure it was not terrible in my eyes. It was terrible in his mind. Like causing someone to lose their job because he couldn’t get along with them. Is that terrible. No. But he blames himself. And he was so sensitive and kind it seemed so horrible. Ryan my point is I see now. Thanks to you. That the perspective of a person dealing with mental distortions amplifies things. A normal life occurrence can be a terrible thing of a person with mental distortions. Love you Ryan❤ My son killed himself two years ago today on Fathers Day. His Father and I have been talking about him all weekend. We miss him dearly.

    • Ryan says:

      I believed in god until I was 21 when my grandma died I watched TBN and prayed with her every night and read the bible then I lost my faith for 15 years and became a Atheist. No one knows whether there is a God or not because no one has went to the other side and came back. I’m sorry for asking for prayer because even the prayer of someone who cares even though they don’t believe helps its not just belief in God but the connections that we make across time and space.
      It’s ok though thank you for Love and Im really sorry about Peter I still wish I could trade places with him I am in a really bad place which it seems no way out. Love you too.

    • Ryan says:

      Stacey I did and the Therapist just took notes of it and did as you said and told me it was untrue thoughts and the psychiatrist gave me Risperdal which helped at first but I wake up everyday not wanting to be here anymore and I don’t know how much longer I can hold on.

      My mom is praying for me and put me in the prayer box at the mormon church there are over 1000 people praying for me. It helps because I can actually feel people are rooting for me. I will pray for you everyday even if im not sure I believe in God or not. I Love you Stacey and thank you for your words

    • Janet says:

      Ryan you wrote:. I have asked God for forgiveness of my life and have repented and I hope that is enough to keep me alive. So Ryan do you think then that it is God who would wish you dead if you didn’t repent enough?

      • Ryan says:

        “So Ryan do you think then that it is God who would wish you dead if you didn’t repent enough?”

        You only have to do it once and believe that Jesus died for your sins once.

        I don’t believe that the Great spirtual energy which is god in the universe would want me dead it is the demons and the Ruler of this earth that lies to us and tells us things that are not true.

        Our free will separates us from god the positive energy/force in the universe. If we didnt have free will then our love for that energy and that force that guides us would be lost because it would be forced.

        Lucifer is the Angel of Light before he was cast down. The light he bears upon all mankind is now false light. It is the light people see all around another person or even how that person see’s things on the outside too. The darkness is where he really dwells in the world and he tries to fill our minds with darkness, so everyone sees this bright beautiful upright man or woman and says “look what all he has and how good he or she is on the outside”, but on the inside for He/She and the demons that work for him bring fear, hate, lies, false hope, false love and even false perceptions.

        I never disparage or try to change ones beliefs. Prayer for others is not for god and does not go through god it is for the somewhat believer that needs hope. I don’t believe in miracles or having absolute faith for that matter because I don’t think the Great spirtual energy that is God plays favorites.

        I have studied Atheism and was one for awhile. I have also studied Satanism and other forms of religion from all parts of the world.

        If you and Atheism but you have to believe in science. Science tells us that no energy ever dies, so with that fact we are beings of matter such as carbon, water and light. So it is not nothingness in the sense for a Atheist that our energy is gone it is that our energy goes back into the world and eventually the universe. That is why indians such as navajos bury their dead next to mesquite trees and some indians believe their ancestors energy from the soil is absorbed through the tree and that is why some of those trees are so sacred to them.

        I believe in all religions and non-religions because we don’t know, because no one has gone to the other side and came back really.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Thank you, Ryan, for your kind words to me, too. I hope that you are continuing to hold on, knowing that you are supported by the love and prayer of others.

    • Janet says:

      I love you Ryan. You don’t deserve this misery. You are a victim of the mind. Your own mind. No words of mine with make the voices cease . I don’t know if you have that ability either. At the end of the day remember one thing for
      certain. You are wonderful. You are precious. You deserve happiness and love. You deserve kindness. You can tell those demons you know the truth. And the truth is not what they are telling you. The only evil here are those voices. They are the true evil. But they want you to think that you are. NO you are not. Don’t let them convince you Ryan. Fight them. Fight back. For yourself and for everyone else who hears these demons. You are good and people love you. People are praying for you.

      • Ryan says:

        Thank you Janet and I love you too. I also love Peter too. I can feel him whether you believe it or not I can see him in my mind and feel him in my heart and spirit, he wants me to tell you he loves you and he wants me to tell that you that “mom it wasn’t your fault”. Thank you for all those words. I don’t really worry about love and happiness but thank you for that too. I was brought here for many things one was to save as many lives as I can, the other was to change how the world thinks and the last was to cure cancer and with that it was also to slow down the aging process. Unfortunately the last one I was working on through Philanthropy and Telomere research then my mind completely broke and the demons swooped in and told me if I keep working on that last one they will stop me and kill me.

        I call it hindrance of purpose because of inside and outside forces.
        You just feel like your losing the battle so you give up sometimes.

        Take care and thank you for the nice things you said.

    • Janet says:

      Ryan you said “. There is sometimes where Love, Prayer, Medication, Therapy, cannot help. Coping in small baby steps and a few other things are the only things keeping me alive right now. Love Ryan.”. What you said is very wise Ryan. Sometimes love medication and therapy aren’t enough. I believe you are right. My son was 38 years old when he died. He knew he was loved. He had medication. He didn’t try therapy. But I think your right. We are always looking for that fix. That “other” thing that will make it right. Thank you Ryan. You’ve been a friend to me and a big help in my understanding the things my son didn’t tell me. I so appreciate your sharing and your friendship. Much love to you Ryan.

  7. Nancy Stewart says:

    What if you know you are the blame for not being able to keep friends and family? Can’t find a Dr. that will work on your meds. Instead they put you on meds that give you awful side effects and make you gain so much weight that your blood pressure gets too high and other things! I feel like there is no hope!

    • Janet Gerl says:

      I think the key is to “find” the right Dr. Only work with Psychiatrist do not waste your time with general practitioners or any professional other than a specialist in the field. And then be prepared to go to work at doing every possible step to contribute to helping your situation. Diet, exercise, meditation, etc. along with the right medication(s). Your situation will be one of a lot of effort just to keep an acceptable status quo. It’s not an easy path. But isn’t life worth it?

  8. Mark Y says:

    Unfortunately it seems that at the start of reading this out of semi-passive curiosity turned into severe depression when I was done.
    I think a lot about the truthfulness to my thoughts, weighing in on possibility vs probability, percent of outcome, and exploring evidence. I actively talk aloud to myself to straighten my thinking. I very rarely state or consider things as absolutes.
    The suggested strategies in the article are good for someone thinking with their emotions. But most of my depression is either unexplained and randomly based on nothing at all; or more commonly it stems from conclusions by logical deduction. The worst part is, nobody is able to come up with logical rebuttals. Talking to others doesn’t help.
    It’s not that I feel things are hopeless. It’s that there is a very high mathematical probability that failure will occur for all of my life changing opportunities. They fail from circumstances outside of my control. Once many years ago I was an optimist. But repeated failures made me a realist.
    Now, I am a pessimist. I CAN hope, but there is no reason to. I have no personal evidence that things will get better. Failure and dependency are the only constants and based on experiences, very high in probability. Reading this article just affirmed that there is no other help.

    I am not allowed to hope. Because every time I do, something from the sky falls down and kicks me in the face for it. You can make all the changes and hope all you want, have all the skills and resources in the game of life; but they’re meaningless when you are given loaded dice to roll for your results.

    • Anonymous says:

      Analysts think like you. Do you have anything to lose if you begin to say to yourself “I have high probability to win” if you know you will lose, you have nothing to lose. Try it.

  9. Elena says:

    In a group therapy course for managing depression we talked about this a little and there was a specific formula for challenging thoughts and beliefs. I wish to God I could remember it or had that sheet of paper now… I have been struggling more and more the past few months and I KNOW my mind is lying to me but I can’t keep fighting it anymore. It’s all things I grew up hearing (I was emotionally and sometimes physically abused as a child) and for some reason whenever things get too stressful or go wrong I go back to those thoughts and feelings, every time. And I know they’re false but I get so tired of trying to change the channel. So I keep going for the distractions but those can only keep me going for so long. I told a few people I was thinking of suicide but I think it just upset them and I’m scared I’ll lose them as friends so I’m trying to deal on my own instead for now.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The truth is the trees are green and the sky is blue, if not above me, somewhere. Just have to be patient.

    There is no truth admist the terrorists of the mind.

    Everyday the thought of ending MY life and MY pain, yet causing others great pain happens. Guess what, I’m winning!

    This isn’t over yet.

    We are stronger than the lies created by the chemicals.

    Do anything but be destructive. Let the urges become a prayer.

    You’re here for a reason. You are the reason. You are enough. You are loved. YOU are amazing.

  11. Sue says:

    Go outside and walk, run, bicycle, march in place, just move your body. Focus your eyes on any natural shape – clouds, leaves, anything not manmade. The endorphins start to flow within minutes. I find myself saying “What the hell was I thinking?”! Train yourself to fight suicidal thoughts…it works!

  12. Dave27 says:

    2 years now of trying with lots of therapy and drugs, but I see myself getting weaker and worse, unable to escape the guilt and self loathing. If only I’d realised how bad it could get at the start then I would have done more. When the whole situation is overwhelming the techniques are difficult to employ.

    • Janet says:

      Hopeless and invisible. Are you currently on meds? Are you seeing a psychiatrist ? My so commited suicide 5 weeks ago please answer me. I’m trying to understand.

    • carrie says:

      Forgive yourself as you would have compassion for a stranger with similar struggles and feelings of regrets and self negative talk.
      if you cry like i do when i am in that dark place its because your heart knows there is light but the dark clouds in the mind are just lies , toxic pollution

    • Janet G says:

      Dave I don’t battle depression but I lost my son to suicide 6 months ago. What you say about techniques being difficult to employ…..this is how I envisioned it was for my son. He was smart, aware, and he was working on trying to control his thoughts. He was on medication but told me the medication caused him to “not feel”. He said it was a miserable existence on medications. So he tried going off after hearing a podcast about a women who had like a primal scream and broke out of her negative thoughts and self loathing. This podcast also portrayed the drug companies as evil. He quit his medication in an effort to see if he could go it alone. When he realized he couldn’t, he tried to get back on medication and that’s when he took his life. I think about his struggle all the time and I try to imagine what it was like for him. Having to struggle with your mind and constantly pull yourself up out of self loathing and hateful thoughts……is there any worse situation when your own mind is your worst enemy? I cry for him and the struggle he endured. I know relatives who right now are fighting that battle with their mind. My heart goes out to you.

  13. Hopeless and invisible says:

    I know that my days are numbered. Nothing can save me. I just hope that by speaking out against stigma maybe I can save someone else. If your loved one is talking about suicide or exhibiting the signs take it seriously. Don’t reject them. It will be the difference between life and death.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      What a poignant message, “Hopeless and invisible.” Thank you for reaching out to help others. I do hope that folks will fully absorb the meaning of your words.

      As for your personal statement, I don’t know you, but I don’t believe that there is anybody who cannot turn away from the thrall of suicide. (See my post, “Is Suicide Inevitable for Some People?”)

      I wonder what all you’ve tried. There are so many things that can change your life, or, perhaps even more importantly, your perspective and perceptions. Perhaps this post of mine will be helpful to you: “Are You Thinking of Killing Yourself?

      Finally, please check out the resources I’ve compiled (a partial list, to be sure) for people who are considering suicide. There are all sorts of ways you can get help, from calling a hotline to participating anonymously in an online suicide chat room. Please click here for those resources.

      I am so sorry you feel hopeless and invisible. I hope you will consider the possibility that your thoughts may be wrong – that you are neither hopeless nor invisible, and that the number of days can be far longer, and peacefully so, than you expect at this time.

    • Nothing is ever hopeless and no person is invisible …. your light shines in way you cannot know as a human being. We are all here for a reason ….. maybe not to do great things but maybe as Mother Teresa said – to do small things with GREAT LOVE …. show yourself this great love and your true purpose will emerge. Yes we all should listen to one another ……. agreed ….I hope you are still there. God Bless you.

  14. Kathie Yount says:

    “Do police deserve a Teflon coating?” about the suicide baiting death of Dylan Yount in Hallidie Plaza, San Francisco, 2-16-10, is posted at

  15. Andrew says:

    Excellent article! You included both the Western approach of talking back and the Eastern approach of being mindful but unresponsive. I personally prefer the first method but it’s good to have options. By the way, have you read the book Transforming Negative Self-Talk?

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Thank you for the positive feedback, Andrew. I intend to write more on mindful observation, as well – stay tuned. I agree with you that talking back is very powerful, especially for people who have never had a voice to argue against suicidal thoughts. I have not read the book Transforming Negative Self-Talk, but based on your recommendation, it is now on my Kindle. It looks very good, with helpful, concrete tips. Thanks!

  16. Another highly helpful post Stacey. I love your ability to put into words what far too many are experiencing and battling, along with ways to combat these life threatening thoughts.

    My heart goes out to Kathie Yount, as well as to her son Dylan. I had shared quite a while ago the deeply disturbing story of her son being baited while so many stood around doing nothing and in fact, incited and encouraged baiting. Truly heart breaking that society has this much disregard for human life, and it’s pretty obvious the judge in this instance is clueless as to what is happening when someone is suicidal. She should be permanently relieved of her ability to pass judgement when she is so poorly informed. Verdicts like hers show exactly how much work is still to be done when it comes to educating the masses about mental illness and suicide. Stigma is always about ignorance (lack of knowledge) combined with fear, learned beliefs and perspective. Unfortunately with 1 million a year worldwide taking their lives, none of us can afford to be ignorant or ambivalent.

    Unfortunately it appears most who have not had suicide impact their lives directly know very little about it. I wish it wasn’t that way and work diligently to help educate and dispel the very stigma that’s claiming so many lives, but am absolutely disgusted this judge shows such little regard for human life and think she would have very different perspective if she lost someone near and dear to her this way. There appears absolutely no compassion or understanding and much effort to support the officers/officials present that day meant to save lives who failed as well. She failed miserably at carrying out her duties here and I hope and pray this does NOT set a precedent. Disgusting and dehumanizing sums it up.

    My condolences to Kathie and all those who have lost someone to suicide. May the world become better educated, be willing to open their hearts and minds and actually get informed to help save lives BEFORE they lose someone to suicide. RIP Dylan, society let you down.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Barb, you described very well the anguish in the case of Dylan and his mother. It is tragic, not only Dylan’s suicide but also the police officers’ failure to intervene with the taunting crowd, and the judge’s refusal to hold the officers responsible. I will need to write an article about suicide baiting.

      Thank you for your feedback about my article. You are very kind. Of course, your Facebook site Suicide Shatters is highly helpful, too. I encourage anyone reading this to check it out.

    • Kathie Yount says:

      “A comic strip testimony of suicide baiting” is published at iPinion Syndicate at

      • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

        Kathie, your column and the comic to which you link are wrenching. Suicide, whatever the context, brings so much pain. Thank you for sharing your pain and, in turn, touching others who may be helped by your words.

  17. Al Jones says:

    Excellent article! As one who spent way too much time in suicidal ideation I heartily concur with the concept of “talking back” to the suicidal thoughts. “That’s foolish!”, “Oh, that’s gonna hurt!”, “It isn’t gonna last!” and a slew of other ways to let my, and I love the idea, Defense Attorney have his say.

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Thank you for your feedback, Al. Those are great comments for rebutting the suicidal thoughts.

      I am intrigued by your website It is great that your site offers support to people with recurrent or longstanding suicidal thoughts. this group faces a great deal of stigma and resistance in the mental health field. Your website reminds me that I will need to write a post about this sometime soon. Thank you.

  18. Kathie Yount says:

    Great post, Stacey, like always. What one judge would tell to the suicidal is to jump. Please read and share “Judge’s stand on suicide baiting: Let them jump” at

    • Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW says:

      Thanks, Kathie. I’m very sorry to read of the judge’s opinion in your case. It’s hard for me to fathom that police do not have a responsibility to ensure, above all, the safety of a suicidal person. Terribly tragic. Here this post was about talking back to suicidal thoughts, and suicide baiting is an externalization of those thoughts – the crowd colludes blithely with the murderous brain. I wish you much healing and peace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.