Tag Archives: 1-800-273-8255

5 Things Not to Say to a Suicidal Person

I Just Want to Die!

Do I have your attention? Good! If someone said this to you, do you know what you would say? What you would do? We never know how we’re going to respond in any given situation. It isn’t until we receive training and experience that we learn what is best. But, even then every situation is unique and no two people are alike. I believe that no matter what we “think” we know, it’s still not enough.

And so I think some of the best advice we can receive is from the people who have survived a suicide attempt.

There is currently a very popular pop song written about the subject of suicide. The artist is called¬†Logic and the song is titled “1-800-273-8255.” The song’s name is the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

The song begins:

I’ve been on the low
I been taking my time
I feel like I’m out of my mind
It feel like my life ain’t mine
(Who can relate? Woo!)
I’ve been on the low
I been taking my time
I feel like I’m out of my mind
It feel like my life ain’t mine

[Chorus: Logic]
I don’t wanna be alive
I don’t wanna be alive
I just wanna die today
I just wanna die
I don’t wanna be alive
I don’t wanna be alive
I just wanna die
And let me tell you why

The lyrics are from the perspective of someone who is calling the suicide prevention hotline because of how they are feeling.The immense popularity of this song is based on the commonality of all those who have through a suicide attempt.

And so this goes back to what I first mentioned. Some of the most influential, helpful, and comforting words of support come from those who have been there. I think of myself and so many others as the ones who’ve been in the trenches. We’re the laborers…the survivors. With the help of others, we learned how to build our own ladder to reach higher ground.

As we have climbed out of those trenches, we’ve had to listen to a LOT of unsolicited words of “advice and encouragement.” Personally, I know everyone in my life has tried to be as helpful as best as they knew how. Unfortunately, there are many things said that aren’t helpful at all. So, from the perspective of someone who has been there, let’s talk about what NOT to say to someone who is suicidal.

5 Things Not to Say to Someone Who is Suicidal

  1. “I know how you feel.”

No, you don’t! Plain and simple. None of us know how someone else is feeling. Our circumstances and coping mechanisms are unique. Instead, encourage the individual to express thoroughly what they are thinking and feeling. Don’t speculate. Don’t guess. Just listen.

  1. “Keep your chin up (and other such references).”

If only life was so easy and simple. Most likely, the suicidal individual has already been telling themselves to hang in there. Instead, help the person you are talking to by getting them to identify small steps they can take to stay safe. Break those steps into the smallest units they need, such as getting through the next minute, hour, day, week, month, et.al.

  1. “Everything will get better.”

When an individual is feeling suicidal, it is extremely difficult for them to see past the four walls of their dark trench. Expressions of hope can be worded differently without coming across as dismissive in nature. Try instead to say, “I’m proud of you for making it this far.” “I’m so grateful you came to me for help.”

  1. “You’re stronger than you think. You’ll get past this.”

When an individual feels as though they are drowning in depression and hopelessness, they don’t see their own strengths. Instead, help them to identify their strengths. Let them know how proud you are of what they have done up to that point. Name specific strengths they have shown during their depression.

  1. “God (some higher power) won’t give you more than you can handle.”

Seriously? This has always been the one piece of advice I have found the least helpful. When someone is suicidal, they don’t see the “silver” lining. In fact, it’s incredibly difficult to see any improvement in any timeframe. Be honest with them. They may question why everything is so difficult for them. Tell them the truth, “I don’t know the reason. But, I’m here for you right now.”

It is often difficult to know what to say to say to a suicidal person. From my experience, sometimes the best way to say something is through listening. Don’t feel like you have to fill “dead air.” Don’t feel like you have to have all of the answers. Just listen.

I want to leave you with another chorus from the same song:

I want you to be alive
I want you to be alive
You don’t gotta die today
You don’t gotta die
I want you to be alive
I want you to be alive
You don’t gotta die


If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline:logic-1800-pic

“I want you to be alive!”

©2018 Julie Corbett

%d bloggers like this: