Help when feeling overwhelmed and suicidal

Feeling overwhelmed and thinking about suicide can sometimes be triggered as a response to feeling you have no control over your life, or that things will never improve. You may feel terribly alone at the moment, but it is important to know that other people have been in similar situations and had similar feelings to those you’re having now. Help is available.

What can you do if you are feeling overwhelmed and suicidal?

Have you been feeling overwhelmed and thinking about suicide? You may have found yourself wishing that you were dead, or perhaps that your friends and family would be better off if you were. You may have even considered how you would kill yourself.

Sometimes thoughts like these can be triggered as a response to feeling that you don’t have any control over your life, or that things will never improve.

You may feel terribly alone at the moment, but it is important to know that other people have been in similar situations and had similar feelings to those you’re having now. Other people have also felt like ending their lives, and will have had similar thoughts to your own.

It may be useful to experiment with some of these suggestions, and make a note of the ones you find helpful so you can look back over them if you need to.

The following are some examples of things that you may find helpful when you’re feeling distressed or overwhelmed and thinking about hurting or killing yourself:

  • Think back to another time in your life where you faced a similarly overwhelming or painful situation. What did you do to cope then? Can you do any of the same things now?
  • Think about a time when you felt a little better than you do at the moment. What did it feel like then? Try focusing on, or even writing about, the way you felt at that time.
  • Try to concentrate on the present. Worrying or getting caught up in the idea that things will never improve in the future can make you feel even more overwhelmed.
  • Try breaking up your day by planning things to do that will distract you. Plan something to do for a short period of time, and then have another activity or task ready for when you finish that one, and so on.


Distractions and stress relievers

Activities that you may find helpful in distracting you from the way you’re feeling and relieve some of your distress might include:

  • Listening to your favourite music as a mood booster
  • Taking a shower
  • Sitting outside or going for a short walk
  • Spending time with your family or friends
  • Watching a favourite DVD, television program or film
  • Drawing, sketching or painting
  • Writing
  • Re-connecting with areas of your life that give you a sense of meaning e.g. spirituality, social service, a vocation
  • Taking some time out to treat yourself to a small thing you ordinarily enjoy, and savouring it.


Look after your physical health

It is easy to neglect your physical health when you’re feeling distressed or experiencing suicidal thoughts, but paying attention to your diet, getting regular sleep, maintaining a daily routine and keeping active can help you to feel more able to manage things.


Relaxation techniques to help with suicidal feelings

It can be helpful to educate yourself about other coping strategies, such as relaxation techniques. There are various techniques that can help to reduce feelings of distress. There are a range of books or reputable websites available where you can learn more about these, but here are some examples to get you started.


Breathing exercises

Find a comfortable position. Focus on something in the room or close your eyes. Breathe in slowly through your nose, hold the breath for a few counts, and then breathe out slowly through your mouth. Hold your breath again for a few counts, and then repeat the process until you feel a little calmer.


Practicing mindfulness

Instead of trying to stop your distressing feelings or thoughts, try simply recognising and accepting them without judgement. Remember that you experience a whole range of thoughts and feelings apart from the ones you’re dealing with at the moment. Remind yourself that feelings and thoughts are temporary and will pass. Try mindfulness.


Progressive muscle relaxation

Lying down or reclining in a chair, begin by breathing slowly. Starting with your feet and working your way up your body, tense each group of muscles for 10 seconds, then release them for 15 seconds.

Another important step in suicide prevention and coping with suicidal feelings is to develop a suicide safety plan.


Don’t let it build up. SuicideLine Victoria is a free 24/7 telephone and online crisis counselling service offering professional support to people who are concerned about their emotional and mental health. Call 1300 651 251. If it is an emergency, call 000.

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