It can be hard to understand what would drive someone to take their own life. Suicide is a desperate attempt to escape suffering. Many people with suicidal thoughts do not want to die – they want to end their pain. A person who feels suicidal can be blinded by their despair and see no other option.
Suicidal thoughts result from extreme emotional distress and are not necessarily signs of mental illness. This is a common misconception. Abuse, bullying, family stress and sexual orientation are all risk factors for youth suicide.
Severe distress and emotional pain can also manifest in other unhealthy ways. Self-harm, intentionally inflicting pain on one’s self, is a negative coping mechanism and emotional outlet.1