Suicidal Thoughts, Anxiety, and Relief: What You Must Know
Suicidal thoughts and anxiety have a strong relationship. Understanding the nuances of this relationship can help save lives that might otherwise be tragically lost. September is Suicide Prevention Month because the more we know and understand, the more equipped we all are to talk to each other about suicide. The more we talk--reach out and connect--the easier it will be to give and receive help, hope, new perspectives, and life. This look at suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and relief can help you understand what you are experiencing if you're having suicidal thoughts and it can help you recognize suicidal ideation in someone you care about.
Suicidal Thoughts Cause, or Increase, Anxiety
Both the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention1 and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)2 list anxiety as a mood that, with the presence of other signs, signals suicidal thoughts.
If you're feeling that you want to end your life, you might feel agitated, worried, and nervous. Suicidal thoughts cause anxiety for many reasons:
- Dissonance -- Suicide is a very big decision that goes against the human survival instinct; this causes dissonance, which in turns causes or intensifies anxiety.
- Feeling like a burden -- Many people who are contemplating suicide feel like they're a burden and they worry that they're negatively impacting the lives of those around them.
- Agony -- Agonizing over the decision is common and causes great anxiety, agitation, and fear.
- Hopelessness -- Feeling hopeless is part of depression, and it's part of anxiety, too. The thought that things will never get better can create feelings of worry and panic.
- Silence -- Sometimes, people feel ashamed to talk about suicide. Other times, they don't know how. This can drastically increase feelings of anxiety.
Suicidal ideation causes anxiety. Reaching a decision to act on suicidal thoughts can bring a wash of calm.
A Decision to Act on Suicidal Thoughts Can Bring Anxiety Relief
Trying to figure out whether to keep going or end your life is tormenting. The anxiety associated with it can be painful. When someone is contemplating suicide and is in the throes of anxiety, it means that he or she is waffling (a very good thing) and hasn't made the decision to end his or her life. Noticing this agitation opens the door for a conversation ("Mental Health First Aid: How to Handle a Mental Health Emergency").
A sudden sense of calm may be a sign that suicide is imminent. Anxious thoughts have become quiet and anxious emotions are finally still. The decision has been made. The person feels relief because he or she doesn't have to worry about anything any longer. Sudden anxiety relief means the person needs immediate help.
Anxiety Is a Tool Leading to Other Suicide Prevention Resources
Use anxiety as a tool. If you are having suicidal thoughts, use your anxiety as a safe way to start a discussion with someone you trust. Talk about your anxiety and lead to your thoughts about suicide. Similarly, if you see new or increased anxiety, coupled with other suicide warning signs, reach out. Start by noticing the anxiety and then segue into the topic of suicide.
If you suddenly feel calm after experiencing anxiety and suicidal thoughts, or if you notice someone abruptly change from agitated to peaceful, ask for or provide help immediately.
If you feel you may hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately.
If you need help with distressing thoughts (including suicidal thoughts), call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
For more information on suicide, please see our suicide resources here.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Risk Factors and Warning Signs. Accessed September 18, 2018.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), Suicide and Prevention. Accessed September 18, 2018.
Peterson, T. (2018, September 20). Suicidal Thoughts, Anxiety, and Relief: What You Must Know , HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, June 1 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2018/9/suicidal-thoughts-anxiety-and-relief-what-you-must-know