According to statistics from the World Health Organization, suicide is the 4th leading cause of death worldwide among people between the ages of 15 and 29. After all, if the thought “I want to die” has ever crossed your mind, you’re not alone. But where do such ideas come from? Before answering this, it is important to distinguish between the different types of suicidal ideation. This feeling can be considered suicidal thoughts, so it is important to understand what is happening and seek help.

Active and passive suicidal thoughts

Suicidal ideation usually results from being overwhelmed by emotional or other mental health pain. In this regard, there can be either passive suicidal thoughts or active suicidal thoughts. Passive suicidal thoughts are rare. If you think about suicide every now and then, but you don’t plan to take a stand, you can consider such thoughts passive. But on the other hand, active suicidal thoughts are constant. Most importantly, individuals with this mindset already have a safety plan in place.

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Although some suicidal thoughts are more severe than others, all suicidal thoughts, including “I want to die,” are scary. Even passive suicidal thoughts are extreme. Moreover, passive thoughts can quickly become active. It’s easy to make thoughts worse, but all people naturally want to go on living. So, have you ever asked, “Do I want to die?” What should you do if you think? Understanding the source of suicidal feelings is key to managing thoughts and preventing the worst.

Reasons for thinking “I want to die”.

Research shows that suicidal thoughts are caused by several factors. The most notable ones include:

1. Feelings of hopelessness

Many studies show a direct link between hope and a person’s quality of life, meaning that higher levels of hope translate into better quality of life. Hope can be defined as hope for the better. For example, negative thoughts dominate the mind of a hopeless person. Such people may not see the good in anything, but if you dare to look around, there is always something to be happy and hopeful about in your own life.

2. Chronic Fatigue

Let’s say you are constantly tired for a long time due to life’s challenges, i.e. long working hours. In this situation, you may begin to despair, especially if you don’t feel like you’re moving forward or can’t slow down for fear of letting others down. Chronic fatigue has been shown to alter memory and thinking. Self-care can be impossible when you’re feeling overwhelmed and constantly at work. The result can change the way you think, which may very well include thoughts like “I want to die.”

3. Sadness and despair

Thoughts of “I want to die” can also arise from overwhelming feelings such as the loss of a loved one (grief) or helplessness and anguish (hopelessness). Grief from the loss of a loved one is expressed by most people as a mix of intense emotions, including but not limited to shock, anger, guilt, and confusion.

The feelings can last for weeks, months or years and are accompanied by intense reactions such as flashbacks, concentration problems and social withdrawal. Hopelessness can have many sources. For example, studies show a link between the lack of mental health professionals and insurance and increased suicide risk in the United States.

4. Depression and Substance Abuse

There is a link between suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts and depression – a mental disorder characterized by extreme lows or highs in a person’s mood, that is, intense sadness and happiness. People suffering from depression may lose interest in the things they love and in life.

There are also indications of a link between drug addiction and suicidal thoughts. For example, research shows that people who abuse substances such as alcohol and drugs are more likely to develop depression.

We summarized the main reasons for the thought “I want to die” from a scientific point of view. Although there may be other reasons why you may be thinking about suicide or experiencing occasional or persistent suicidal thoughts, the above are the most common. Now let’s focus on the solution. For example, what if you think, “I want to die”?

What to do when you say “I want to die”.

1. Make yourself comfortable

As discussed above, risk factors such as chronic fatigue can arise from overworking yourself so that you don’t disappoint others. If your suicidal thoughts are caused by chronic fatigue, you need to start being easy on yourself. If grief is the source of your “I want to die” thoughts, maybe you need to stop blaming yourself for feeling partially responsible for the loss of your loved one (for not being there for them enough).

Many people are compassionate toward others rather than toward themselves. Instead of “beating yourself up,” treat yourself like you would treat your family members or best friend. This can be easier said than done. If you need support and a practical approach, start by imagining someone you care about with the same problem as you, namely suicidal thoughts.

If such a person tells you that they want to kill themselves, keep thinking about what you would say to them. So end by offering yourself the same compassion with support and kindness, and remember that suffering and imperfection are part of the human experience. Most importantly, be kind to yourself as much (if not more) than you are to friends and others.

2. Take Time for Yourself

If you’re having active suicidal thoughts, don’t rush into anything. Active suicidal thoughts may seem intense; however, pain will come and go, as seen in people with mental disorders such as bipolar. A short-term promise to yourself or someone (a friend, family, or therapist) that you won’t harm yourself may be all you need to make your suicidal thoughts go away.

Most importantly, you should give yourself time with every suicidal thought you get, meaning that if you feel better, don’t act on suicidal thoughts until the next time you give yourself time to see if the thoughts go away. You can have a “4-day rule” to increase the distance between suicidal thoughts and the moment you act. Of course, taking time for yourself is highly recommended, as suicidal thoughts come and go.

3. Get rest and avoid abusing alcohol or taking drugs

Because chronic fatigue can scientifically alter your thinking and trigger mental health issues and suicidal thoughts, it helps to get as much rest as possible. Therefore, you should aim to get enough sleep, which varies by age. According to the CDC, adults ages 18 to 60 should get 7 hours or more of sleep a night.

You should also avoid drugs and alcohol as they have been proven to disrupt your thinking. For example, when many people use alcohol and other drugs recreationally (to relax) or as coping mechanisms (to cope with stress), the effects include, but are not limited to, increased anxiety, stress, and depression.

4. Be active

Research shows that exercise is an antidepressant. You can get rid of depression (a leading cause of suicide) simply by making exercise a habit. Most importantly, you don’t have to overdo it. Getting your heart rate up by walking for 20 minutes each weekday will provide significant emotional and physical benefits. Exercise releases endorphins (“feel good” hormones), which relieve stress and depression.

If possible, be active outdoors and get some sunlight every day, as sunlight triggers the release of serotonin, a hormone responsible for uplifting your mood.

5. Get Professional Help

If you’ve tried all of the above and still feel suicidal, it’s time to seek professional help. In addition, suicidal thoughts should be taken seriously, even passively. If you sometimes want to die, you can start talking to someone you trust, such as a parent, sibling, friend, family member, doctor, or counselor.

Given the global prevalence of suicide, suicidal thoughts should not be something you fear or feel ashamed of. More than 700,000 people commit suicide worldwide every year. They attempt suicide more often. Sharing your thoughts and feelings can save you from being part of these statistics. Given that suicide devastates those left behind, it can also save your loved ones from immeasurable emotional pain.

You should be open to talking to people you trust. Alternatively, talk to a counselor about your ideas or plan. Experienced advisors have done things like yours and have the expertise to help you. For example, you can get a therapist or counselor through national helplines.

There are free, easy and anonymous ways to get help. For example, the United States has a suicide prevention website and hotline. You can also use other online resources such as Just take the first step/leap of faith and reach out to someone.

There are several treatments available that have been proven to reduce/eliminate suicidal thoughts in patients. Treatments include, but are not limited to, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and collaborative assessment and management of suicidality. If you see a mental health professional for help, you can get medication to treat underlying causes, such as depression.

There is no shortage of antidepressants around the world that have been tested, proven and approved by reputed bodies like the FDA. Therefore, your psychiatrist can choose the right antidepressants for you and recommend other treatments they think are necessary.


If the thought “I want to die” crosses your mind every now and then, know that you are not alone. The most important reason for action is to identify the cause(s) of your suicidal thoughts. Whether it’s hopelessness, chronic fatigue, sadness, hopelessness, depression, substance abuse, or other causes, know that you can do something about it. Start by being easy on yourself, giving yourself time, rest, exercise, and avoiding alcohol and drugs. If that doesn’t work, seek professional help.

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