Understanding Suicide

“Understanding Suicide,” New Era, September 2016, 36–37

Understanding Suicide

Understanding Suicide

Photograph by iStock/Thinkstock

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, seek help immediately. Do it before you do anything else. Tell your parents, your bishop, or another trusted adult. Don’t let fear, shame, or embarrassment keep you from getting help for yourself or someone you care about. A life is on the line.

Depression and the Risk of Suicide

The deep despair and hopelessness depression brings can cause people to feel trapped to the point where ending their life seems like the only way to escape the pain.

Most who consider suicide, however, don’t really want to die; they just want relief from the pain. Suicidal talk and behavior is often a cry for help. Be aware of statements such as, “I don’t care if I live or die” or “Everyone would be better off without me.” Never ignore suicidal talk or any signals your friend may be giving you, such as when your friend:

  • Always wants to be alone.

  • Is moody and irritable.

  • Has a sudden change in personality.

  • Is using drugs or alcohol.

  • Is sleeping too much or too little.

  • Is giving possessions away.

  • Expresses feelings of hopelessness, feeling trapped, and having no reason to live.

  • Talks about killing or harming himself or herself.

One of these signs by itself may not necessarily mean something serious, but it could—especially if you sense a sudden change in your friend or start seeing other signs. It may be hard to believe that anyone you know would consider suicide, but if a friend has mentioned it or even joked about it, you should tell a trusted adult immediately. It may be tempting to try to help on your own, but it’s always best to get help.

If your friend wants you to keep suicidal feelings a secret, it might feel like betrayal if you tell an adult. But your friend could be in real danger, so your duty is to get help and get it fast. It’s better that your friend be angry with you than you lose that friend.

What If It’s Me?

Having thoughts about suicide is frightening. When you’re at this point, it’s nearly impossible to see the bright and hopeful things in your life because everything you notice is dark and sad. But others have felt this way and have overcome the challenge with the help of friends, family, and others. You are not alone. Here’s what you can do.

  • Reach out for help. Talk to someone you trust—a parent, priesthood leader, or teacher.

  • Pray to your Heavenly Father even if you don’t feel like it or feel it hasn’t helped before. Turn to Him (see Alma 32:37).

  • Read and ponder the scriptures—especially stories of those who faced trials and gained strength from God—and the teachings of the Savior.

  • Serve others. As difficult as it may be to start, serving others will help you feel better.

  • Go out and do something. You can listen to uplifting music, visit a friend, or go for a walk, a jog, or a bike ride. Exercise dramatically increases energy and positive feelings in the body and relieves stress. Do whatever will take your mind off negative and dangerous thoughts.

Things Will Get Better

Right now your problems feel like they’ll last forever, but you have no idea what tomorrow will bring or what next week will be like. You can work through your problems, and you can take steps to improve. Things will get better. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, has said, “Even after the darkest night, the Savior of the world will lead you to a gradual, sweet, and bright dawn that will assuredly rise within you.”1 So hold on; there is hope.