Ten tips to help you cope if you are having thoughts of suicide

Thoughts of Suicide? You are not alone.

It can be very difficult to balance school, work, relationships, and all the other aspects of life. Sometimes this can lead to challenges with mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health, which may include experiencing thoughts of suicide. Having thoughts about death and/or dying can be both scary and confusing. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, know that you are not alone. It is important to reach out for help, even though that may feel hard to do. You can either reach out to someone you know or to a crisis line (see 24/7 crisis line resources at the end).

Below are some suggestions to help you cope if you are having thoughts of suicide. If you ever feel you cannot keep yourself safe, call 911, or go to your nearest emergency department.

  1. Give yourself some time
    Try to create some distance between your thoughts and actions. You can say to yourself: “I will wait 24 hours and won't do anything drastic during that time.” You can also tell yourself: “These thoughts will pass.”; “These feelings won’t last forever.”
  2. Avoid drugs and alcohol
    Suicidal thoughts can become even stronger if you have taken drugs or alcohol. Avoid nonprescription drugs or alcohol when you feel hopeless or are thinking about suicide. Take prescription drugs only as prescribed by your health care provider.
  3. Put yourself in a safe environment
    If there are things in your environment that you could use to hurt yourself, such as pills, knives, razors, or firearms have someone you trust help you remove these items or go to a place where you can feel safe (for example, a comfortable public space or a private space with someone you trust).
  4. Don't keep suicidal thoughts to yourself
    Sharing suicidal thoughts with someone you trust can be the first step to coping. It may be a family member, friend, counsellor, Elder, spiritual leader, teacher, family doctor, coach, or a trained support person at the end of a helpline (see 24/7 crisis line resources below). It can be hard to know what to say to someone. Please see some suggestions below about how to talk to someone about suicidal thoughts.

  5. Try some grounding tools
    You can help yourself get through a feeling of being overwhelmed by focusing on a mindfulness or breathing exercise. Paced breathing is a basic yet powerful technique to manage stress and overwhelm.
  6. Distract yourself
    You can try listen to music; paint or draw; play sports; write in a journal; write a poem or rap; sleep; talk to friends; spend time with family; go outside; have a bath; play video games; make comfort food; workout; read a book; look up inspiring quotes; find funny memes; watch YouTube meditations; be around a pet, or doing something else you enjoy to refocus your emotions, energy and attention. You can use an app such as Calm Harm to help come up with simple ways to distract yourself.
  7. Reflect on the things that give you a reason to live
    Try making a list of things you’re living for. What brings you joy? Who are the people/ places/ creatures that you care about? What are your interests, hobbies and or passions?
  8. Have a safety plan
    If you have a safety plan for coping with thoughts of suicide, you can refer to it for more coping strategies and supportive resources that often work for you. If you don’t have a safety plan, you can create one by using an app such as Hope by CAMH | CAMH. It can be helpful to develop a safety plan with a supportive person that you trust.
  9. Avoid making big decisions
    When stress is high, give yourself a break from trying to solve your problems for the next 24 hours or until your stress level comes down a bit.
  10. Remind yourself – people DO get through this
    Even people who feel as badly as you are feeling now manage to survive these feelings. You can watch videos of caring messages from others who have survived suicidal thoughts, intense emotions, and problems that felt unsolvable. This video from the We Matter Campaign (dedicated to Indigenous youth support, hope and life promotion) speaks to how to hold onto hope even through the toughest of times: What is Hope?

How to talk to someone about your suicidal thoughts

  • Identify a person you feel you can trust (whether it is someone you know well, a mental health professional or a kind peer or acquaintance) to share your suicidal thoughts.
  • As best you can, tell the person what you have been thinking.
  • If you have a suicide plan, explain it to them.
  • Try to be specific, if you are thinking about suicide, it’s important to say that.
  • If it is too difficult for you to talk about, try writing it down and handing a note to the person. Or send them an email or text and stay with them while they read it.

What if you don't feel understood?

If the first person you reached out to doesn't seem to understand, tell someone else or call a suicide crisis helpline (see resources below). Don't let a bad experience stop you from finding someone who can help.

This video from the We Matter Campaign shares once person’s story on how they built up the courage to ask for help: How To Ask For Help • We Matter (wemattercampaign.org)

24/7 Crisis Lines

  • Good2Talk: 1-866-925-5454 or text GOOD2TALKON to 686868  
  • Distress Centre of Toronto: 416-408-4357  
  • Gerstein Crisis Centre:  416-929-5200  
  • Toronto Community Crisis Service: 211 or 911
  • Hope for Wellness: Wellness Helpline for all indigenous people in Canada: 1-855-242-3310 
  • Talk Suicide Canada: 1-833-456-4566 (for anywhere in Canada)
  • For students located outside of Canada contact: We Connect or find a local Crisis Line at Suicide Stop.


Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Game Changers Youth Ambassadors. (n.d.) Game changers resources: How to stay safe Things you should know about having a mental health crisis and about suicide. Retrieved on September 1, 2023.  gc-suicide-crisis-staying-safe-tips-pdf.pdf (camh.ca).

Kids Help Phone. (n.d.). How I can cope with thoughts of suicide. Retrieved on September 1, 2023: How I can cope with thoughts of suicide - Kids Help Phone.

We Matter. (n.d.) We matter toolkit for indigenous youth. Retrieved on September 1, 2023: We Matter (wemattercampaign.org)