Skip to content

One in six people have thought about committing suicide at some point. It is thus fairly common to have had self-destructive thoughts, or know someone who has had self-destructive thoughts. Although self-destructive thoughts are not uncommon, they must be taken seriously.

Self-destructive thoughts are a sign for you to stop to consider what things in your life are making you feel bad and who you could tell about your thoughts. There is no need to struggle with your self-destructive thoughts alone because help is available. 

What does self-destructiveness mean? 

Self-destructiveness usually refers to thoughts or behaviour that revolves around a person trying to harm themselves in some way. Self-destructiveness means different things to different people, and therefore it manifests differently depending on the person. 

For some people, self-destructiveness manifests as recurring thoughts, plans of suicide, wishing for death or random thoughts that pass quickly. For others, self-destructiveness can manifest as talking about suicide, impulsive behaviour, self-harm (such as cutting), suicide attempts or suicide. 

Self-destructive thoughts vary a lot and do not always mean the person is planning on committing suicide.

Cutting and other forms of self-harm do not automatically mean the person wants to die either. It is also possible for a person to have conflicting thoughts, wishing they were dead while wanting to live at the same time. The intensity and duration of self-destructive thoughts can vary by day, week and even year. 

There is no need to struggle with your self-destructive thoughts alone because help is available. 

What causes self-destructiveness? 

Self-destructiveness is caused by a combination of factors in a person’s life. It is thus fairly common that the person themselves does not fully understand why they are being self-destructive. Research shows that there are several different risk factors for self-destructiveness. 

What we do know is that self-destructiveness often involves a mental health disorder, although self-destructiveness is not an illness in and of itself. However, not all people living with self-destructive thoughts or behaviour have a diagnosed mental health disorder.

Self-destructiveness may also be related to a physical illness, crisis or difficult life situation, such as a break-up, death of a loved one or bullying. Traumatic experiences and abuse are also risk factors for self-destructiveness and suicide, as are alcohol and other drugs. 

Self-destructive people often feel hopeless or worthless or like they have hit an inescapable dead end in their lives. These unbearable emotions are real, even though in reality there are ways to resolve the situation. 

People who have previously attempted suicide are at the greatest risk of suicide. Suicide is not an illness in itself, but a way of reacting in a crisis. Although there has been a lot of research into self-harm and suicide, reasons why someone might commit suicide are still not completely understood.

The most important thing to realise is that self-harm and suicide do not have one single cause but are caused by a combination of several factors. Thus the suicide or self-harm of a person is never anybody’s fault. 

Are you having self-destructive thoughts? 

If you are having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm, please remember that help is available. Even if you do not feel like it, change is possible. The first step into feeling better is to tell someone about your situation.  

You can start by contacting MIELI´s Crisis Helpline if you do not know who else to turn to with your feelings.  

In case of an emergency, immediately contact hospital emergency services or the emergency number 112.