Suicidal Thoughts

Ashley Kimbrough
Ashley Kimbrough

A Note from Ashley

Many people experience suicidal thoughts without realizing what they mean or that they should get help. This was the case for myself.

In college, I seemingly had a perfect life. At 20, I was a student-athlete and straight-A student in good health and with a good support system. Still, I began to experience suicidal thoughts. I would minimize the thoughts and lie to myself about what they really were. I would think things like, “My life isn’t that bad compared to others, so they aren't a big deal.” 

I also dismissed these thoughts because of course I wouldn't act on them. Not with such a loving and supportive family. They’re not actually suicidal thoughts, I thought. I was ashamed and tried to convince myself these thoughts weren’t there, which made it hard to admit to myself, let alone to others, that I was having them.

All of this prevented me from getting the help I needed. I wish I’d known then what I know now.

When I was thinking “I don’t want to be alive” or “I hope I won’t wake up” I was having "passive suicidal ideation," which is a wish or hope to die, without acting on the thought. More often, though, I was having "active suicidal ideation," which are actual thoughts of wanting to kill yourself. I even had plans for how to carry it out. And somehow in spite of all of this, I convinced myself I wasn't really having suicidal thoughts.

Through therapy and research, I now know it is not shameful to have suicidal thoughts. I am not broken or messed up because I have them. It took me a long time to realize this, and it is my hope that you can also realize this and get help.

Ashley Kimbrough, Sober Truth Project


What can you do if you have suicidal thoughts?

  • Establish a support system.
    Maybe a best friend, therapist, or psychiatrist. Someone you can speak to about it without feeling judgment. You can also find groups of people who are experiencing similar struggles, which may be easier than talking to someone who hasn’t opened up about suicidal thoughts or does not struggle with them.
  • Create a safety plan.
    Lay out some safeguards or methods: Make sure you are not alone. Remove objects you could harm yourself with. Create distractions. Think of reasons to live. Pick up the phone to talk to someone. 

    If an urge overwhelms you and you may act on these thoughts, take any of the following steps:
    • Reach out to a trusted friend.
    • Go to your local behavioral health center.
    • Reach out to the suicide hotline.
    • Call 911.
  • Make a change.
    If you are unhappy in your career, change it. Unhappy in a friendship? Stay away from that person. Surround yourself with people and activities that lift you up and give you purpose. 

What can you do if someone you know may have suicidal thoughts or confides in you about their suicidal thoughts?

  • Directly ask them: Are you thinking of killing yourself?
    People are more likely to talk about it if they are asked directly. If they are having thoughts, ask them if they have a plan and if they feel they will act on these thoughts.
  • Do not judge them; be empathetic.
  • Listen and encourage them.
    Help them to focus on getting through the day. Ask them to talk about the reasons they have for living. Remind them that the bad feelings will not last forever. If they have not already, encourage them to get professional help.
  • Check in on them.
    My friends and I try to do weekly check-ins to make sure everyone is doing okay. Some of us have experienced suicidal thoughts, and others have not.

And if someone indicates that they may do something to end their life, call 911.


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Resources

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call [Please enable javascript.]

Crisis Text Line: Text "HOME" to 741741

IMAlive: A virtual crisis center that has trained volunteers for immediate support. (www.imalive.org)

Veteran Crisis Line: Call [Please enable javascript.] or text 838255