'How to Overdose without Dying' and Other Red Flag Searches

April 4, 2016 Becky Oberg

Recently I was Googling something and the phrase, "how to overdose without dying" appeared. I was surprised and concerned--how bad of a place does one have to be in to Google that, and why is it common enough to appear as a search term? This made me think of other red flag searches. When we are not aware of how bad off we are, searches like, "how to overdose without dying" can alert us to danger (Suicide Hotline Phone Numbers). Here are some phrases that should cause you to check your mental health if you find yourself or a loved one typing them--and some words of encouragement from someone who has actually Googled, "how to kill yourself" and gotten annoyed that it led to anti-suicide pages.

How to Overdose Without Dying

Most people who Google this are in emotional crisis but not really suicidal. They simply want to make a cry for help. They want to be taken seriously, hence the drastic measure, but they want to survive, hence the "without dying" bit.

Have you ever caught yourself Googling how to overdose without dying? Or ways to die? What should you do when you google red flag searches? Read this.If you find yourself or a loved one Googling this, call a therapist immediately or go to the hospital. Take this as seriously as a person with heart trouble takes chest pain. Afraid of getting locked up? Guess what, that will probably happen if you actually try to overdose without dying--and that's the best case scenario. You can cause permanent damage to your kidneys, stomach, liver, or other parts of your body. You can even die. Your doctor will probably take you off of what you tried to overdose on, which can mean adjusting every medication you're on. Trying to overdose without dying is more trouble than it's worth.

As someone who's been locked up multiple times, I can tell you it's not as bad as it initially feels. The first day is the worst, then once your medications kick in, psychiatric hospitalization is bearable. And it's a heck of a lot better than causing permanent damage and ending up in the intensive care unit.

Analyzing 'How to Kill Yourself" Searches

This phrase usually takes you to anti-suicide pages, but there are a couple of pro-suicide pages that pop up (including one that sells a do-it-yourself book for around 10 bucks). If you're annoyed by all the anti-suicide pages instead of comforted, it's time to alert your therapist. And if you find yourself on the pro-suicide web pages, ask yourself how likely you are to act on their advice, and if you find yourself ready to act, call your therapist or go to the hospital.

One thing those anti-suicide pages emphasize that I initially didn't find helpful is, "It gets better." I've lost four people to suicide who couldn't believe that it gets better, and it's hard to believe it gets better when you're praying for death. But before you put on your pinewood pajamas, ask yourself, "What would make it better?" If you can't think of something that would make it better and death seems like the only consolation, you should probably be evaluated as a suicide risk.

But the anti-suicide pages are right--it does get better. Everything in life, including life itself, is temporary. I used to be frequently suicidal and in and out of hospitals. Then my nephews and niece were born, and the suicidal crises became a lot less frequent and a lot less severe. Things improved even more when I got on the right medications and in the right kind of therapy. And when I got sober, things got even better. Lots of people get better--you will not always feel suicidal.

Analyzing 'How to Cut Yourself' Searches

While self-injury can be present along with a suicidal mood, it can be simply a way to cope with the pain. There is a big difference between cutting yourself to kill yourself and cutting yourself to deal with emotional pain. But if you're wanting to cut yourself severely enough for medical intervention but not severely enough to die, it's time to alert your therapist or go to the hospital.

I am a self-injurer and I get annoyed when people automatically assume cutting is a failed suicide attempt or that I'm suicidal just because I'm having thoughts about cutting. But there are times where we need to check our motivation--why do we want to cut? If it's a cry for help, then it's time to ask for help in a less destructive manner.

Regardless of which of these red flag search terms is used, the need for help is very real. Tell a professional exactly what search terms you're using. Tell them you feel desperate enough to act on these searches. Take your pain seriously and insist that others take it seriously. You can feel better without doing something drastic. You don't have to overdose without dying to get help.

If you feel you may hurt yourself or someone else, please call 9-1-1 immediately. For additional help, please see our resources and hotlines page.

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APA Reference
Oberg, B. (2016, April 4). 'How to Overdose without Dying' and Other Red Flag Searches, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 17 from

Author: Becky Oberg

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