What is suicide?

Suicide is the act of a person consciously (willingly) ending their own life.

Why do people take their own lives?

There is no one reason why people take their own lives. It is often as a result of problems building up to the point where the person can see no other way to cope with what they're experiencing. Very often people (or the media) look for a 'cause' as if there is one factor that has led someone to take their own life. In reality, the way someone feels is a result of many factors. The kinds of problems that might increase the risk of suicide include:

  • Recent loss or the break up of a close relationship
  • An actual or expected unhappy change in circumstances
  • Painful and/or disabling physical illness
  • Heavy use of, or dependency on alcohol/other drugs
  • History of earlier suicide attempts or self-harming
  • History of suicide in the family
  • Depression

When someone is feeling low or distressed it may be that a seemingly minor event is the trigger for them attempting to kill themselves.

Why does talking help?

Talking openly about how you really feel can be like opening a door. Talking puts you back in control and reveals the choices you have. Many people feel pressured into hiding their feelings out of embarrassment or concern not to burden family or friends. But hiding under a calm exterior only saves the problem for later and stress can build up until it becomes unbearable. Don’t leave it that long. Remember, Samaritans is there to help whatever time of the day or night.

Do you have to be suicidal to call Samaritans?

If you think you might benefit from confidential emotional support then we are here for you. You do not have to be suicidal to contact us. We will not judge you if you call. We understand that sometimes it can feel difficult to pick up the telephone. You could talk about your feelings on one of our forums, or you may find it easier to email or write a letter to us instead. Sometimes writing down your thoughts can really help understand them better.