Suicidal feelings

People who feel suicidal have often been experiencing a growing sense of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness for some time.

You may not know what has caused you to feel this way but it is often a combination of factors.

Suicidal thoughts can occur for many reasons, but the most well-established risk factors include:

  • mental health problems, especially depression
  • alcohol or other substance misuse
  • sexual or physical abuse, bullying and discrimination
  • bereavement, loss of a relationship, isolation or loneliness
  • long-term physical pain or illness
  • adjusting to a big change, such as retirement or redundancy
  • money problems or homelessness
  • feeling inadequate or a failure
  • doubts about your sexual or gender identity

If you are unsure of why you feel suicidal, you may find it even harder to believe that there could be a solution. But whatever the reason there is support available to help you cope and overcome these feelings. See In a Crisis?

Why are some groups more at risk of suicide?


Suicide rates are elevated in the veterinary profession in several countries. Research into possible contributory and preventive factors is ongoing but Belinda Platt’s valuable mixed-methods interview study in 2012 with 21 UK veterinary surgeons who had attempted suicide or reported recent suicidal ideation identified the common contributory factors, as listed below.  Two thirds of participants had difficult life events happening at the same time as these work-related factors, and 50% received a psychiatric diagnosis after the suicide attempt.

  • workplace relationships
  • career concerns
  • patient issues
  • number of hours and volume of work
  • responsibility

More men than women complete suicide. The reasons are not clear but the mental health Charity Mind think that men may:

• feel pressured to ‘get on with things’ and keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves
• choose suicide methods that have a lower chance of survival
• believe they can or feel they have to cope without help
• worry that they will appear weak if they talk about their feelings or seek support

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) are working to prevent male suicide in the UK by challenging the culture that prevents men from seeking help.


Studies show that people from LGBT+ communities are more likely to experience suicidal feelings and take their own lives.
The reasons for this are complex and not yet fully understood. However, mental health problems experienced by LGBTQ people have been linked to:

• discrimination
• bullying
• homophobia, biphobia or transphobia

See LGBT+ Inclusion

Further reading

• Royal College of Psychiatrists leaflet: Feeling Overwhelmed