My friend had a good idea for when you’re in a dark place (CW: suicidal ideation)

a hand reaching towards the surface of a body of water and the reflection reaching back up towards it

The first time I experienced suicidal ideation — where you know you’re most likely not going to kill yourself, but you wish you could — I didn’t tell anyone that it was happening. 

a hand reaching towards the surface of a body of water and the reflection reaching back up towards it

Partly, it would have felt like being even more of a burden. When my self-esteem was so low that I thought no one except for my mum would be that bothered if I was gone, the idea of troubling anyone with something so… inconveniently heavy was daunting.

Partly, it’s a hard thing to say out loud.

And, honestly, partly I think I was worried they’d talk me out of it. In those moments, I was so low that disappearing felt like my only opportunity to escape. It was a comfort. And I didn’t want that comfort taken away.

After I got my head above water a little, I told one of my best friends what I’d been thinking.

She said, “If this happens again, please tell me.”

I explained that it’s not that simple. I probably wouldn’t be able to.

So she thought of a brilliant solution:

A safe word.

We came up with a word that I could say to her if I was feeling like I wished I was dead. When I said the word, the plan was that she wouldn’t say anything back. She wouldn’t try and comfort me or talk me out of it. But she would know.

It felt like a lifeline. 

From then on, when the darkness settled, I knew there was a hand I could grab onto. It helped me keep my head at least close to the surface of the water. It helped to keep the darkness back a bit.

Now, if ever someone I love tells me that they’ve been experiencing suicidal ideation — if they’ve been considering that disappearing would be an appealing option — I ask if they want to have a safe word with me. 


If you’re going through this right now, then I’m really sorry. I’m sorry you’re in so much pain and that things feel bleak. Please know that, whatever’s going on, you’re not alone. And there is a beauty in your presence.

xxx (Yes Yes) Marsha


PS If you’re in a dark place and need help, and can’t tell someone you know, there are people who are here to support you.

US: You can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialling 988 (or 1-800-273-8255)

Canada: You can call Crisis Services Canada on 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645

UK: You can call the Samaritans on 116 123  or email

Wherever else you are, if you just google “suicide” and your country, the number will likely be the first that shows. You’re not alone and there are people who can help you through this.



This post was written on World Mental Health Day.


Photo credit: Serrah Galos

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