Before we get into this discussion, we want to start by offering immediate resources:

Are you in physical danger or crisis?

If you’re feeling actively suicidal, you are not broken. But none of us have gotten through this kind of feeling without extra support.

We understand you may have had negative crisis line experiences before, but like other parts of life, sometimes it’s just an off day. Or maybe you didn’t really like the person there to help. But it is always worth trying again.

These resources can help you come out the other end of a suicidal crisis while staying safe from uncontrollable impulses:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741741

American Foundation For Suicide Prevention (resources and information)

Suicide Prevention Resource Center (suicide prevention, information, and awareness)

Are you feeling horrible but without a real drive to hurt yourself?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by life and just wish there were an easy way out of this pain, Supportiv is a good place to turn.

We aren’t trained to help in crisis or danger, but we’re a safe space to talk about life and how frustrated you are with it. We can help when you’re passively rather than actively suicidal.

Supportiv connects you with others going through really similar struggles, and the chat groups are 100% anonymous, accessible 24/7, and kept non-judgmental and troll-free. Just enter what’s on your mind, and you’ll feel the support.

If you’re struggling with passive suicidal ideation, find some honest discussion of this painful feeling, below.

“Most people don’t kill themselves because they want to die. They kill themselves because they don’t know how to go on living.”Taiki Nakashita

Talking About Suicide When We’re Not Actually Suicidal

“I’m done with life,” you joke as you realize your Amazon order got messed up for the third time this week.

Everyone jokes about killing themselves, right? Many of us have joked about leaving this world to escape the commitments,  inconvenience, and pain of life. Take this meme, only one version of an extremely common format, circulating all over the internet:


Cartoons and comedy have taught us that it is okay to joke about wanting to die, but internalized religion and culture have shamed us for expressing if we truly feel this way.

So we have questions:

At what point is being suicidal not funny?

At what point is the feeling of wanting to die everyday, normal?

How much truth lies behind the safety of a joke? The answer is far more than most would let on.

Stigma and Passive Suicidal Ideation

Passive suicidal ideation is common, especially for those recovering from trauma, healing mental illness, or facing major life stressors. Unfortunately, for those who are feeling suicidal, but not in physical danger, few resources exist.

Mandated reporting laws often keep those experiencing low-level suicidal thoughts from sharing them with professionals in fear of being hospitalized, and the fear of seeming ungrateful, weak, or causing worry often prevents sharing suicidal thoughts with coworkers, friends or family.

Ignoring This Experience Lets So Many Fall Through The Cracks

How many people question their purpose, their willingness or ability to keep living, or just life itself? How many of those can actually voice their uncertainty without fear?

See if any points sound familiar on this scale, created by the artists known as Emmengard. They have illustrated how many different levels of suicidal ideation fit into the normal human experience. You may even relate to some:

passive suicidal ideation to full on suicidal intention

Stigma isolates the people who need acceptance most, and we leave them alone with the very thoughts that can kill them.

By creating a social atmosphere where we can’t seriously acknowledge these thoughts, we create a tragically common situation: “I had no idea they were suffering,” until after a person has attempted or committed suicide.

Present mental healthcare and societal norms have created a care void between people who are truly suicidal, and those who think about dying in a passive manner.

Those who are not going to attempt suicide feel scared to seek assistance in working through their thoughts — they’ll be labeled as uncontrollable, put on a psych hold, or taken away from school and family. Even if they have no intention to act on their musings.

Passively suicidal individuals may feel embarrassed by what their thoughts ‘mean,’ according to society’s stigma. And common interventions for suicide, being inappropriate to passive suicidal ideation, only make passively suicidal individuals feel worse.

Feelings of personal hopelessness breed suicidal ideation, and the intimidating clinical protocols for dealing with any mention of suicide can make people feel even more broken and helpless.

How Things Need To Change

Simply thinking about suicide does not indicate incorrigible mental illness.

Thought is a sense — we cannot choose what our next thought will be. Our prefrontal cortex controls coordinated thoughts and self-control, but its action only makes up part of our thoughts. And its control can be depleted by a number of mundane factors, like lack of sleep and inflammation.

So, we need to begin understanding that for some people, their thoughts, which aren’t in their control, may sometimes gravitate toward suicide.

All living creatures wish to escape pain and seek pleasure, and for some, the thought of suicide promises that escape from pain. For some people, passive suicidal ideation is how their thinking mind has learned to cope with the pain of life.

Accept A Middle Ground Between ‘Fine’ and ‘Actively Suicidal’

Sometimes all people need to feel better, is to feel accepted as they are — including the part of them that does not want to exist anymore.

Indeed, according to Dr. Kristin Neff, “a number of large-scale studies have found that extreme self-critics are much more likely to attempt suicide than others.”

When we pathologize passive suicidal thoughts, we give people who have them even more reason to hate themselves – even less reason to hope for a better life, because they feel broken for even thinking of ending it. And that’s more reason to transition to active suicidality.

In the current mental health model, we ask people to reach out if they need help, but we push them away if they question their existence.

We tell people to stay strong but we do not let them fully share what that strength takes out of them.

We fear becoming responsible for their death and we fear being responsible for their life.

As a result of this, we isolate the people who need acceptance most, and we leave them alone with the very thoughts that can kill them.

via Facebook

Going Forward: Talking About Suicide

Society needs to accept that discussing suicide will not cause suicide and that ultimately we are not responsible for someone’s choices.

Society needs to accept that discussing suicide will not cause suicide, and that ultimately we are not responsible for policing passive suicidal ideation — only for helping people feel supported through difficult thoughts.

We must watch whether we are pushing our fears onto others by stigmatizing questions about personal worth and one’s place in the world. Most importantly, we cannot continue to ignore that suicide rates are continuing to rise — 33% since 1999 — and our current suicide prevention techniques are not working well enough.

We need preventative intervention as much as we need emergency intervention, and there is much more work to be done to help those experiencing the entire spectrum of suicidal ideation. 

Again, if you’re feeling suicidal but don’t want to do anything about it, we understand here. Please come chat.

If you’re worried you might be in danger of hurting yourself, we know this pain too, and you are not abnormal, crazy, or broken.

But none of us have gotten through suicidal feelings without help.

You will feel better, even if it takes some time. You are valuable even in your moments of fear or helplessness.

The following services can help walk you out of the darkness:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

American Foundation For Suicide Prevention (resources and information)

Suicide Prevention Resource Center (suicide prevention, information, and awareness)