Have You Made a Plan to End Your Life? Consider this First.


If you are in danger of acting on your self-harm impulses, please reach out to the Crisis Textline at 741741 to be connected to a suicide prevention counselor. See their webpage if you are outside the US or Canada. To speak to someone live, you can call 1-800-273-8255 in the US. This page provides hotlines in other countries.

It is possible that you’ve gotten to the point where your suicidal pain has become so unbearable that you have come up with a specific plan to take your life. Coming up with a specific suicide plan makes sense when your suffering has reached a certain breaking point. 

During my horrible depression, I spent countless hours thinking about the most efficient way to end my existence. However, there was still a part of me that wanted to live. I’m guessing there is a side of you that is not totally sure that you want to die, I would like to speak to that part of you.  

Finally, because being in a suicidal state is very serious, it is essential that you also seek the care of a qualified mental health professional. If you are not already doing so, the page How to Connect to Mental Health Counseling can help you find such an ally in your healing.

Next, I would like you to think about the following questions:

What If You Change Your Mind and It’s Too Late?

When I was thinking about the various ways I could die by suicide, one avenue I contemplated was jumping off a bridge. Besides the fact that I am afraid of heights, I thought, “What if, on the way down, I change my mind?”

This change of heart is not uncommon. One’s ambivalence about dying can last up to the moment of the attempt. Because of this, people can change their minds and decide to live just moments after their attempt.

One of the few people who have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and survived reported that: “As soon as my hands passed the railing, I realized that everything that I thought was unfixable was in fact fixable.” By then it was too late for him to take back his jump. Miraculously, this man survived.

A close friend of mine, Bill, who suffered from depression, compounded by health and financial challenges, decided to swallow the entire bottles of his heart medicine and antidepressants. About ten minutes later, he called a friend and said, “I think I have done something dumb.” The friend called an ambulance to take Bill to the hospital. But unfortunately, he passed away before the doctors had the opportunity to pump his stomach.

What Are Your Motives?

Normally, people’s motives for dying by suicide are to put an end to their pain. However, in some instances, their motive involves sending a message to others from a general place of hurt, anger or revenge. You might be motivated to show your loved ones how much you hurt. You might be thinking that you have done something so horrible that suicide is the only option. Acknowledging this to yourself may be helpful in reflecting on your choice.

There are better ways of letting others know you are hurt, and better ways of expressing your emotions than that of ending your life. For example, expressing and learning to understand your pain with a counselor can help release these feelings and liberate you from your negative thoughts and emotions.

Can You Put It Off Until Tomorrow?

Another idea I would like you to consider is, “Can you put this off until tomorrow?” The reason I say this is that many people who attempt suicide act impulsively. In a few hours you may feel very differently than you do now. This is because suicidal urges, like our moods, fluctuate. Your pain might be unbearable today and yet by tomorrow, it may let up.

If you put some time between your impulse to end your life and put some physical distance from the means to carry it out, you can ‘ride out’ the emotional storm until it passes.

Research shows that many people make up their minds to attempt suicide in less than an hour and usually while they are highly upset.  Survival requires backing off for right now and allowing time for the impulse to pass. When you feel the urge to harm yourself, I would like you to ask yourself this question: “Can I put this off until tomorrow?”  Or, “Can I put this off for another hour, or even another few minutes?”

You have nothing to lose by waiting. Since you have no doubt been thinking about suicide for a while, there is no harm in thinking about it for one more day. Things may look very different tomorrow. This is the one time when procrastinating is a good idea!

What About the People You Would Leave Behind?

When you think about taking your own life, it’s important to realize that your action would not happen in a vacuum. Shortly after the suicide of designer Kate Spade, her husband said in a statement to the NY Times, “My daughter and I are devastated by her loss, and can’t even begin to fathom life without her. We are deeply heartbroken and miss her already.”

To compound their loss, survivors of a loved one’s suicide are left asking themselves such questions as “Why did this happen?” and “Could I have done more?” The pain of having to deal with this type of loss can last years or even an entire lifetime. Not wanting to put my friends and family through this emotional upheaval was a key factor in my decision not to make a suicide attempt.

What If You Don’t Succeed?

Human beings are hard to kill. This is why for every 25 people who attempt suicide, 24 live. That is a 96% survival rate. The problem is that sometimes people survive with permanent injuries.  For example, my counselor told me about one of his clients who suffered irreparable brain damage when he shot himself in the head. “I wouldn’t try it,” the counselor warned me. “You might end up a vegetable.”

Later, I read an account of a person who leapt from a bridge into the water below and did not die. However, he did succeed in breaking his back. It is also possible to experience life-long organ damage or loss of limbs.

Many people romanticize about suicide. However,  these and other examples show you can hurt yourself very badly after a failed suicide attempt, and then have to deal with its sometimes devastating consequences.

If You Do Succeed, Your Actions Are Final

When it comes to suicide, there are no do-overs here. There are no second chances. There are no instant replays. To apply the cliche, suicide is a “permanent solution to a temporary problem.” It is one thing to spend a week in bed being severely depressed. It is another thing to overdose in bed and never wake up. There is no coming back from death.