5 Reasons Suicidal People Don’t Ask for Help

5 Reasons Suicidal People Don’t Ask for Help January 7, 2019

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. Recent statistics state that one person dies of suicide every 40 seconds. And while you can find tons of articles pointing to signs that someone is suicidal, the truth is that you don’t always know. Dr. Michael Miller, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical says, “Many people who commit suicide do so without letting on they are thinking about it or planning it.”

It’s heartbreaking to admit, but it’s a lot easier to recognize the signs after the fact. And there can be a lot of triggers:

  • Episodes of depression or anxiety
  • Loss of a partner or a job
  • Personal crisis
  • Lack of social support
  • Illness

It’s not as easy to point out a suicidal person as we might think. In fact, Dr. Miller goes on to say, “Many people never let on what they are feeling or planning. The paradox is that the people who are most intent on committing suicide know that they have to keep their plans to themselves if they are to carry out the act. Thus, the people most in need of help may be the toughest to save.”

Here are five reasons suicidal people might not seek help or speak up:

1. They’re afraid of the stigma

Suicidal thoughts tend to come in waves. The person who’s considering suicide often doesn’t realize that it’s become a legitimate problem until it’s too late. It might be appropriate to tell someone they’ve been fantasizing about killing themselves, but they’re often not sure they’d ever follow through. In the meantime, they’re well aware of the public shame around the topic, and they’re afraid of people close to them distrusting, stereotyping, or avoiding them.

2. They don’t want to hurt the people closest to them

The people who would be most helpful to a person struggling with suicidal ideation are the people that would be most hurt by it. Someone trapped in a mental cycle of self-harm just wants the fear, pain, hopelessness, or anxiety to stop. They’re usually not trying to get back at anybody, and they’ll often keep it to themselves because they don’t want people around them to take it personally.

3. They don’t want to be accused of attention seeking

Contrary to popular belief, most people considering suicide aren’t trying to get in the limelight. Too often, the first couple attempts by someone get written off as obvious attempts at seeking attention. It would seem that doing considerable harm or succeeding is the only way to convince others you’re serious—and that’s completely unacceptable. A lot of people who desperately need help don’t ask for it because they’re afraid no one will take them seriously anyway.

4. They don’t want to be a burden

If someone is depressed or anxious, they already feel like a disappointment and dead weight for the people around them. This feeling of being too much work or requiring too much attention is the catalyst driving them to contemplate such a drastic solution. To come out and tell people that they have these thoughts only compounds the problem they want to solve. They’re afraid that vocalizing the problem would only place the burden on everyone else—and being a burden is what they desperately want to avoid.

5. They’re ashamed

People who struggle with suicidal thoughts often carry the same views and opinions as everyone else. They see suicide as weak, pathetic, and cowardly. They’ve seen the damage it does, and they hate it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop it from considering it—and that cognitive dissonance is severe. The shame associated with suicide is just as real for the people struggling with it as it is for everyone else.

Be aware of the signs

Knowing the signs is essential, but it’s not always enough. If you have someone in your life dealing with one or more of the triggers associated with suicide, pay attention to them. Go on the offensive. Let them know they’re loved. If it seems appropriate, talk to them about suicide. It’s okay to ask them whether you should be worried, but know you can’t always take a “no” at face value.

Here are the overt signs to pay attention to:

  • Suicidal talk or pre-occupation
  • Discussions about hopelessness, helplessness, or feeling trapped
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, or self-loathing
  • Getting affairs in order or discussions that feel odd or conclusive, like goodbyes that feel final

If you’re reading this and know you need to seek help, I’d encourage you to talk to someone. If that doesn’t seem feasible, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Max

    Suicide is a mortal sin! If you want to spend eternity in Hell, that’s your choice. I’ve no compassion for these self-absorbed sinners!

  • Nanaverm

    How do you know this? Is suicide one of the sins specified as a mortal sin in the Bible? Why not let God judge?

  • Max

    God judged by the Roman Catholic Church of Jesus Christ the alpha and the Omega. No argument is necessary. The Lord of Hosts is sui generis Holy, and you are dammed to Hell for even daring to question the Messiah!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • WaveDave

    All I can say is I’ve known a number of people who have committed suicide and it has been very, very hard. I worked in a Christian Service organization and 2 of our members took their lives…in a church I attended, I remember a young man who was the son of the pastor. His handsome face sparkled with life and he went on to be a pastor himself. I read a while ago about his suicide following a season of depression. My life will never be the same again having to walk through a difficult road on this. I could say a lot more…but will leave it at that. Thanks for a good article.

  • Peggy

    These inaccurate, heartless stigmas surrounding mental health and depression are exactly the reason many people are afraid to ask for help, especially from the church. Did you even read the article?

  • Chuck Johnson

    That’s reason number six.
    Escape from life’s hardships.
    Once dead, a person will no longer have to deal with self-absorbed jerkoffs like you.

  • Max

    God, Chuck, you make me puke–do you not recognize sarcasm when you see it? Pukefacesnotturddeservingofdeath.

  • Max

    You deserve death at the hands of Charlie and the girls.

  • Chuck Johnson

    Humorous sarcasm ?
    Actually, you are trolling.

  • Max

    I don’t even know that word.

  • Margaret Chapman

    Max,That is not for you or I to presume, and I’m afraid you do not show any sign of being a follower of Jesus, with your total lack of compassion. Neither Jesus nor the apostle Paul say anything of the sort of what you are saying so please do not pass judgement on others.