Having suicidal thoughts occasionally does not necessarily mean that you want to die. These types of thoughts are often a result of being depressed or having had a traumatic experience, such as the loss of a romantic relationship. For many people, suicidal thoughts can represent a psychological escape hatch - there can be comfort in knowing there is a way out of their suffering.
Only a small segment of people who experience suicidal thoughts will actually complete the act. For many, with adequate support and time, these types of thoughts will likely fade and the individual will recover. However, for others, these thoughts will persist and grow more insistent.
As a psychologist, there are several things I look for when trying to determine the degree of severity in a client's suicidal intent. Has the client had previous suicide attempts? Does the client have an active plan? Are they conducting research online for ways to die? Do they feel like a burden to their friends and family? Do they feel that people will be relieved when they are gone? Do they have an active substance abuse problem? Do they have adequate support systems in their life?
If you are having suicidal thoughts, please consider the following:
1) Tell people. It is natural to feel ashamed that you are having suicidal thoughts but many people experience them, you are not alone. You may believe that people either won't care or that they will overreact. Try not to anticipate how they will react, just tell people you are struggling and thinking about dying. Don't keep these thoughts to yourself. You will likely feel surprised by the love and concern you receive.
2) See a therapist. If you have never seen a therapist before, it is normal to feel reluctant to open up. Therapists, though, are trained to help people who are feeling depressed and suicidal. They will also be able to help you connect with the mental health resources in your community. You can find a therapist here.
3) There is help online. There are a number of resources you can access from home that may offer you support and comfort. Many cities offer a crisis support line for those thinking about suicide. In Montreal, we have the Suicidal Action Montreal which offers 24/7 phone support. Here is more information about other Quebec support services and international services. For a list of support sites in your province, go here. Other resources online include: Kids Help Phone and Suicide Prevention Help.
4) Call 911. If you feel actively suicidal and worry that you are out of control, call the police and they will send support. Alternatively, you can visit your local emergency room and they will help you.