Dear Suicidal Person,

I know you feel the only way out of your pain is to stop your pulse. That, unfortunately, is a fantasy. Swallowing the pills will only result in more pain. It is my theory that you will have to work out the gunk you’re running from in some alien world without a body. And then, of course, there’s the pain that you would leave your loved ones, especially your children.

The only real solution, I have found, is to tell someone. Anyone. You might not have a supportive partner. Then call a friend. If you don’t have a trusted friend who won’t judge you, then call a suicide hotline or check yourself into the hospital. Trained volunteers, such as those at The Samaritans, provide an invaluable service to severely depressed people who call or email them in desperation.

The important thing is to stay real. Suicidal thoughts exist in a fantasy world. And fantasy worlds only result in more pain.

Your suicidal thoughts might not be contained to one evening. They may extend through many months or years, and you can’t live in the hospital psych ward indefinitely. Keep on talking. Keep on being real. Keep it out on the table. Try your best to learn how to become your own trained professional and tease apart your thoughts until you arrive at the truth that will keep you safe from harming yourself.

The most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life is to resist taking my life in the midst of intense suicidal thoughts. I try to remind myself every now and then that no matter what I do from here on out, I am already a success because I am alive. I somehow managed to resist the incredibly convincing messages of my brain — the forceful urges of my psyche — to make an exit out of this world. As I mentioned in another blog, not taking your life in the midst of intense suicidal thoughts can be like not sneezing when you have an urge. Everything inside of you thinks that disappearing from this world is the only way that the pain will subside, but that is a lie.

Talking about suicidal thoughts saves lives. I know this. Because people realize that other good, grateful, Zen-like people experience them, too. The thoughts that try to convince you to leave this world simply come with severe depression. They are mere symptoms, like hiccups, of a brain condition or fragile chemistry that feels at times too painful to endure. Just as chills, nausea, and fatigue are symptoms of the flu, the chronic ruminations demanding a fast exit from here are symptoms of acute depression and anxiety. They mean you are sick rather than “bad.” They are not an indictment of your character.

Martha Ainsworth of explained that suicidal thoughts are an imbalance of pain versus coping resources. The answer rests in finding a way to reduce your pain and increasing your coping resources. “People often turn to suicide because they are seeking relief from pain,” she explains. “Remember that relief is a feeling. And you have to be alive to feel it. You will not feel the relief you so desperately seek if you are dead.”

Making that distinction has saved my life on countless occasions. I don’t want to die. I simply want a reprieve from my pain. I must trust that the relief will eventually come because all of our feelings and thoughts — and especially our most excruciating pain — are impermanent. They can’t last forever because nothing does. So taking your life is a permanent action for a temporary problem.

Your only job today is to stay alive. Keep breathing, one moment at a time. You will eventually see that the painful thoughts, as convincing as they are, are a season and won’t last forever.

You’re not alone. I want you to know that you’re in the company of very competent and likable people. This isn’t about you being pathetic or not holding it together. Certain brain circuits are just over-activated from stress or grief or some other reason and your neurons are firing off nasty text messages to the wrong communication centers. Your illness is flaring up much like a case of psoriatic arthritis under stress.

Please tell someone.

Know it will pass.

And keep breathing.



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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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40 Responses
  1. Shelley Wilson

    One of the best articles that I’ve ever read about depression is your article – What I Wish People Knew About Depression. I shared it with my doctor. You are an inspiration. Hope. Keep the faith.

  2. William Hattan

    Therese, You show great courage. I commend you
    I too often have suicidal thoughts because the pain is so intense. But you are right the pain no matter how great, will eventually subside. Suicide is permanent, but not a short term solution.
    Abraham Lincoln even had many suicidal thoughts. In fact he composed poetry to it. I pray ardently for you and for those who suffer with this ailment. I ask for the intercession of all the saints to help comfort those afflicted with these thoughts and desires.

    God Bless You

  3. Laura

    Thank you so very much for understanding. It’s not at all easy. Feel pitiful and pathetic. No on would ever know as I function daily so very highly. It’s like such a heavy dark secret. Thanks for sharing your compassionate words!

  4. Jess

    You are a remarkable, insightful and brave writer. Keep trusting that coping resource and rest in the confidence of having made the key distinction/s that will always make you choose life. You’ve been given many gifts; writing and life in itself being two of them. May a support of solid community and additional resources be gained by your bravery of sharing these gifts. Keep at it! We are all in it together. Don’t ever give up!

  5. OA

    Hi Therese- Thanks for sharing what you are going through. I was thinking about you about a week ago as I realized I hadn’t received any recent newsletter and sent prayers your way. You mean a lot to several people and have helped me through dark days. Please remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE and MEAN A LOT to several people. Continue working closely with your medical team. Treat yourself as your best friend. Reread the newsletters you’ve sent out through the years. Depression is a constant battle. Battlefield of the mind.. distorted thoughts telling us we are better off dead , trying to end the pain. There is light at the end of the tunnel . One day at a time.. This to shall pass .

  6. Brit

    You’ve made so many good points that I will keep in mind and keep as mantras in the dark moments. Thinking that I only want the pain to stop and not really to die has helped me immensely in the past and it is good to be reminded of it. I can not thank you enough for this post as well as many other things you’ve written. If anything I think your struggles as well as your transparency speak to your strengths and admirable qualities. I’m sorry to hear you are having such an awful time. I hope you take it easy on yourself while you fight this and that it starts getting better for you very soon.

  7. Joanne Marshall

    I had the death tape running in my head for almost 2 years straight. But when my child was told she needed surgery it ended because l had a purpose other than myself. I am appreciative .othe sil

  8. Sharon Okenquist

    Dearest Therese,
    Thank you so much for sharing your pain and your struggles to be mindfully strong. Your words now and in the past have help to pull me through some of my toughest times.
    You are a very special person to me though we have never met.
    All my love to you!

  9. Shaunna

    Therese-Thanks for sharing. You are so wonderful with words and getting to the heart of matters. You are such an inspiration! I’m sorry you are having a difficult time right now, but you are correct in recognizing that it won’t last forever. Use all of your “tools” to get yourself back to a good place. You know what works for you. Don’t give up. (Slowing my pace, morning rosary, reaching out to others, and watching my nutrition are some of the things that help me lately.) Sending love & prayers your way ❤️??

  10. Ralph Edwards

    Thank you Dear Kind, Therese! You make so much sense out of Depression, and I am so
    sorry that you have had to endure it all these years! If I had only known about so much of
    the words that you write- years ago- I wouldn’t have had suffered so much. Just a year and
    a half ago, was my last breath, but I inhaled again and got some much needed help! It is
    so tough to be challenged with thoughts that come from outside of ones good self. At this
    very moment and every day, I think thoughts of good, and they are thankful thoughts. I
    have a lot to live for, and so glad you know you do too! With Love, Ralph

  11. Debbie

    Therese, I so wish for you a good long reprieve from your depression. It is so very difficult to be fighting this fight for extremely extended periods. It does wear you down. I thank you with every thing in me for sharing your story with us. You allow us to believe we are not alone and the only way we know that to be true is from your incredible gift of writing your own story. Such a way with words. Those who have not suffered could not understand but for those who do, your words are a lifeline to someone that knows the truth. You have been given as much of a gift to share as my favorite musician – who also uses his words to reach a place in me that is so deep. Thank you my friend. Please share with us any ways that you think we could help you as you certainly have helped us. Many blessings.

  12. Lizzie

    Dear Therase,
    Thank you for sharing this. I was thinking that I hadn’t had so many posts in my mail box from you.
    And I presumed you were well and doing other things.
    I am so sorry these thoughts of suicide have returned again which such intensity.
    For many years like you I would wake up thinkkng’ Will it be today?’ I would go through all the different methods and wonder which one to choose?
    Analyzing them all in a way helped as by the time I had exhausted them all I would be worn out and lost the will to do anything.
    Then I use to worry if the method I used would be successful as I have had failed atttemps.
    To live this way is awful and my heart goes out to you.
    You are such a courageous woman Therese.
    In my case I realized it was the anxiety of living that caused the thoughts. Not the depression as such. Living with extreme anxiety wears you down and leads to depression.
    But for me it’s the anxiety of life that fuels the fire.
    I know you have a supportive husband and you have children and I know that even this is not always enough.
    The tricks our brain plays upon us are cruel and intense.
    One doctor told me that there was no hope for me as I had tried everything and it didn’t work.
    She was obviously tired of my visits to the surgery. I wrote to her and said it wasn’t a nice thing to say as without hope there is nothing.
    Here I am years later and like you I am still breathing.
    There is always hope Therese. Even though it seems so unfair you have to battle so.
    Remember you are not your thoughts and ruminations. You are not the bit in your brain that says you are unworthy to breathe.
    You are the woman who runs and swims and helps other people. Who writes with honesty about her struggles whilst other brush them under the carpet or pretends they are not there.
    Take one slither of light Therese and hold it in your hand. Keep it with you and remember it on bad days.
    This slither of light can become the rainbow that is the true you.
    I still have days when I think about suicide although the thoughts are not as intense as they use to be as a general rule but they still can come back with a vengeance.
    They sit on my shoulder watching me. Any crack in my amour and they can pounce .
    But like you say having these thought don’t make you a bad person. We are not bad people. We are caring people with faulty wiring.
    Remember Therese to be compassionate to yourself . I wish I could take away your pain but I hope sending you my love helps a little. Lizzie

  13. Anne Marie Ortenzi

    Oh Therese..thank you for your courage .
    You are a very brave and amazing woman.
    I’m sure many will be helped by your honesty..The pain is indescribable.
    Only those who have experienced it know how it is.
    Sending up prayers for you.❤
    P.S. The “Little Flower” has helped me in so many miraculous ways..May she do the same for you.?

  14. Ron

    Good morning, Therese…

    It’s good to see your posts popping up again!

    I was wondering how you were doing, since there was a period of silence. That’s right, some old fat guy in Georgia had noticed, and was hoping you were well. I’m sure there were others who follow your writings had thoughts of concern also.

    I know all too well the darkness you were in. And, being HSP, I can feel the cold. Nevertheless,


    I’ve never read work by anyone who knows what we know, and can write it down as eloquent as you. Boy, have I read some books! Motivation, self-hypnosis, subconscious this and that, and on and on. Now, that doesn’t mean that you have been placed on some pedestal. It means that you are one of “us,” with a God given talent to communicate in our language, to us, and to others, so they too can learn and understand. Generations will learn from you! Lives will be saved!

    Is our pain a gift? I don’t know. But, if I needed to learn patience, I should, you know, talk to Job maybe? For obedience, should I seek Jonah? After that fishy smell has worn off though. Or for wisdom, should I ask Solomon? And, if I ask nicely, do you think David would teach me to write beautiful poetry and how to play the lyre? Never mind that when I sing in the shower, the water stops running! I dunno…

    I do know that I, and many others, would grieve deeply if your presence was missing. We are allowed to hurt, to cry, to need relief, BUT, not to check outta!!!

    I love the Lord Jesus Christ. When I pray, He hears, and He answers. I will pray for you and your family, by name. Umm, not just once either.

    All of us people, that you’ll never meet, care about you and yours, Therese Borchard!

    PS: What say you, should there be, like, a Serotonin Anonymous, or sump’in? Hey, I’ll write my congressman!

  15. Cheryl

    Thank you for sharing this and opening up to help others understand. My teenager started having suicidal thoughts when she was 12 years old. I know how helpless I feel…I can only imagine the torment she feels herself.

  16. Allison

    Thank you for the perfect timing of this post, although I’m sorry you or any human has to feel this pain. I’ve been dealing with these thoughts the last several months. I have a psychiatrist and therapist and I just cannot seem to shake this depression. I feel I’m treading water and my head keeps dipping under.

  17. Theresa Rezac

    Therese, Thanks for sharing this vulnerable painful side of yourself. It helps me feel less alone in this. My brain is constantly overwhelmed and wants an exit plan, despite trying clean eating,medication, yoga, acupuncture, excercise, meditation,
    prayer, forgiveness, surrender, better eating, positive thinking, homeopath, herbs, vitamins, chiropractor, Cognitive therapy, family therapy, somatic therapy, mindfulness, journaling, binaural beats, music therapy, KETO, EMDR, and God knows what else…but alway end up back in this depression. It’s the guest that won’t go away. So for today I will just try acceptance and not beat myself up. For today I will try to be present for my kids, because they hurt the most when I cannot cope. Just for today I will hang on.

  18. Diane

    This could not have come at a better time since thoughts similar to yours have crossed my mind within the past 6 months. Everything in this post makes sense as I too do not want to be dead. I’ve been hospitalized (twice), put on medication,and have a psychiatrist as well as talk therapist. Finding ways to shake these feeling has been a ongoing struggle for me. Thanks for these powerful words of encouragement. I owe my life to them.

  19. Mary

    Oh Therese, I think about you always and wondered because you have been silent. YOU are an inspiration to so many struggling out here in this world that you haven’t met or don’t even know we’re listening. “The Way of Serenity” is a book I mentioned and also please listen to “You Say” by Lauren Daigle. This time of year is so hard. For those of us out here who feel THAT kind of pain, we understand, we get it, we fight it and we will win. Thank you for being there always and never, ever give up.

  20. Grandma

    This is a great post.Boy can I relate to this post.Thanks for reminding us that suicide is a permanent act to a temporary problem. And that our brain is lying to us. I know this post will help alot if people. Thank you for all you do. Take Care

  21. One time very early in my depression, I was walking up a sidewalk feeling very bad and an old lady passed by me and smiled at me. My depression disappeared after that. Of course it came back many years later. That lady will never know what she did for me.

  22. Thank you for your raw truth! Please know you are important and not alone. You have a gift of being real and honest and to help others and yourself. Know you are not alone. Prayers and love for you, always. Thank you for not giving up. Keep up the fight and know you are loved and prayed for by so many. xoxo

  23. nessa

    I think the biggest issue is safety. There isn’t anyone to safely talk to, except ( well some, therapists)
    You cant talk openly to anyone that is willing to listen and have compassion instead of shaming you for thinking about ending your life.

    If you haven’t had this issue then you just cant understand why someone doesn’t want to live.

    1. Stephen

      nessa- I agree and your comments made me realize that I actually still haven’t talked to anyone about “it”, though I’ve had therapists and have a wonderful loving family. What I think has helped ground me through the worst over the years is… all of you! Thank you all for posting here, finding and fighting your way through these monstrous (at times) challenges that we are forced to face, ready-or-not- you all have helped me through a LOT, though we haven’t actually talked.
      PS- getting older helps too-not that it’s a necessarily cheery thought :-).

  24. Kate

    Therese, I’m so sorry you’re in this awful season. I’m praying for you I will pray for the Little Flower to lift you up in prayer as well. God bless you. Be good to yourself.

  25. KC

    Therese, I am sorry that you are struggling at this time. You are a brave and beautiful soul and your words have helped me many times in the past, and given me hope when I had very little. I hope I can return a little bit of that favor for you now. In reading your words over the years I have heard your deepest struggles and I have heard you in good places. The most important thing to remember now is that your illness is lying to you, in too many ways to count. This will pass, you will find joy again, you will have relief, and you will recover. You are resilient and courageous and your willingness to make yourself vulnerable is one of your greatest assets. Imagine yourself being held up by the thousands of people who you have helped, all of us strong and filled with love and purpose, some of us actively struggling right now and some of us not struggling, all in it together. TOGETHER WE CAN DO WHAT WE CAN NOT DO ALONE. Just keep breathing that’s all you have to do.

  26. Mayra

    I check back on your blog every once in awhile. Thank you for this post, I had miss these kinds of pieces from you. It helps to know someone else is going through the same thing. That even if I am in pain, I am not alone. Thank you

  27. Renata

    So sorry you are fighting so severely. Be strong and know you are always in my prayers. It will get better, you will be well.

    Try to “change the channel” — don’t overanalyze … everything will seem dark if you think too much … distract yourself. And remember, just one step at time, one day at a time.

    You are a beautiful person, inside and out, so get those ugly thoughts out of your head … they do not belong there!

    Sending you hope, encouragement, and prayers.

  28. Sarah

    Thank you for that. That was a great article/blog. I have a lot of suicide ideation and it comes and goes. I really needed to read what you wrote. I have 2 daughters that keep me breathing. I also find music extremely helpful in stopping the thoughts as well.

  29. Krissy

    Thank you for your words of encouragement. I am plagued by these thoughts of late. Im embarrassed to say the least by my just wanting it to all end. My boys keep me going, but it is awful and scary. Depression and anxiety can just make you feel like a walking zombie. I hate it. I make myself go to work and accomplish things but its so hard. Im on medicine, workout, take God knows how many supplements, use the fisher wallace machine and whatever else I can get my hands on. My mom suffered most of my child hood and now my brothers and me suffer. I just pray that the dear Lord keeps my boys from suffering. My mom said she got better when she got older which it my hope. I hope you’re feeling better. Keep up the good fight.

    1. Lizzie

      Like you Krissy, I worry about my children suffering the way we do. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that they will.
      Do we have to be embarrassed by our thoughts? The thoughts we can’t control?
      Remember they are only thoughts. Cruel scary thoughts. But they don’t have to define who we are.
      My heart goes out to you.

      1. krissy

        Thank you for your kind words. I know they might not. Lord I hope not. I know things will get better and that helps. I have trouble with over loading my plate and I think the stress of it all brings on the episode. They mostly happen the winter time. I keep a prayer journal and they are pretty consistent. I hope this finds you well.

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