Are You Questioning the Worth of Living?

A Bridge to Assistance

William Howatt Ph.D., Ed.D.
© 2014

If you are assailed by suicidal thoughts, the first thing to remember is that many people who have attempted suicide and survived ultimately feel relieved that they did not end their lives1.

Life is filled with personal challenges and obstacles, and when we can’t find a solution it can feel overwhelming. Typical examples that can result in feeling overwhelmed and thinking we can no longer cope with life are: chronic stress and mental health issues, the death of a loved one, fear of the unknown, peer rejection, bullying, break-up, serious illness, and loss of job. Or it may be some other event that’s perceived as personally devastating. When we perceive there’s no relief from pain, no hope, can’t see a better future, or have low energy, it’s quite natural to feel overloaded and hopeless, allowing suicidal thoughts to jump into our heads. This doesn’t mean that we want to harm ourselves; they’re just thoughts – intense stress when we don’t know how to cope that turns off our logical brain. When we can’t cognitively cope we attempt to emotionally cope. This is risky, because the emotional brain has no ability to debate. It doesn’t think; it accepts. 

When the emotional brain is in charge, we’re more likely to be influenced by automatic, suicidal thoughts as an option to stop pain. When under stress, these come without notice. They can follow some event or situation where we feel trapped, hopeless, and at high levels of stress. The emotional brain is not equipped to debate negative thoughts such as "There’s nothing more for me; I might as well kill myself." In such a heightened emotional state we may believe the suicidal thoughts’ core message to stop the pain. One way to move from the emotional brain back to the our logical brain is to activate a stay-safe plan.

Talking about suicide doesn’t make it worse. It’s an effective way to find a pathway to help and better alternatives. Use this quick survey to help move past suicidal thinking.

This tool is meant for education purposes only it is not a clinical assessment tool.