Excessive Pain, Often Suicidal Type

This article contains detailed information and accounts of suicidal ideation & behavior. If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, get help now.

To continue to discuss the very different types of experience people have with depression, this is one that most people don’t experience, but is important to address, since some do. Suicide is not in this case a tool to get people to do or feel what the suicidal person wants; it’s simply the ultimate way to make unrelenting emotional pain stop.

I believe people’s experience of the emotional pain of life varies tremendously. Some of this is due to genetically influenced brain chemistry and resilience, but much of it is due to how much trauma and emotional hurt, loss, injustice, abuse, and other painful experiences people have experienced. We have beta endorphins in our brains to numb pain and create euphoria, so we can handle both physical and emotional pain. But people are born with varying amounts and life events can influence our supply as well. For people with very little of this chemical, life is much more painful.

When people are in intense unrelenting physical or emotional pain, they can want to die to end the pain. For most people, unbearable pain is temporary and thoughts of suicide due to pain never get a chance to settle in and become truly serious. Similarly, most people who seriously consider suicide, or even attempt it eventually find themselves glad they continued to live. This is why professionals do everything possible to prevent people from trying to kill themselves.

In fact very few people are depressed or in other emotional or physical pain for years and years despite all treatment available. Most depression either passes with time, or is treatable in psychotherapy and sometimes medication. But occasionally people go decades in unrelenting emotional pain despite every possible type of intervention. I knew of a woman who had this experience and eventually decided she had had enough. She wrote to or talked to all her loved ones and planned everything very carefully, with plenty of time to say goodbye—as she might have done, knowing she had a terminal illness. In fact she did have a terminal illness, because occasionally depression can be that devastating.  Everyone in her life had watched her struggle for many, many years, and understood her need to end the pain. She did it as responsibly as she could, and I don’t think it’s fair for anyone to judge people like this woman, based on their own experience of pain, because hers was clearly way beyond what most of us ever experience.

Again, this is very rare, and most people have other options, hope, and an underlying strong will to live. For most people, that will to live may waver temporarily and is usually replaced by a fear of either dying, killing themselves, or being dead, or by guilt about leaving behind people who love them and/or depend on them, and eventually the will to live comes back. If you have children, please know that children never recover from their parents’ suicide and are at great risk for suicide and depression themselves. If you think everyone would be better off without you, know that most suicidal people believe this, and it is a distortion. If you wonder, ask the adults around you if it’s true that they would be better off if you killed yourself.

© Copyright 2011 by Cynthia W. Lubow, MS, MFT, therapist in El Cerrito, California. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Fraser


    May 10th, 2011 at 4:15 AM

    There are problems,yes. But no problem is big enough to put your life at stake. Everybody’s struggling and doing whatever they are to be able to survive, to succeed. To think that your own pains are too big and give it all up would not be right at all.

  • Omni


    November 9th, 2016 at 4:19 AM

    When u are mentaly healthy, yeah there is no problem too big. People who say that you have no right to have suicidal feelings or toughts had never obviously felt suicidal or felt even 20% of emotional pain that people WITH suicidal ideations feel. Mental Illness (in mine situation double depression) amplifies pain for 300%. I have around 120 IQ (was taking test from mensa International but its not relevant, even with average IQ, college with medium effort should be no big problem) yet I cant pass 2 courses in my college in whole year. Second, I meet a girl few months ago and fall out of this world in love with her just for her to say that she is sorry and that I shouldnt had this much hope for us in future. Now if I would be mentally healthy, probably I would let her go and forgot about all this ages ago, yet as much as its sound made up I am constantly, every few days , having dreams about her (including one today)… I have no support, tried 6 antidepressants and 3 antipsychotic for a little boost for antidepressants but never achived remission just reduction of symptoms just enough so that I can eat and do at least some work ( and I stopped seeing my doctor, there is just no point)… If u dont have any clue on what are u talking about then is better to not say anything at all…

  • Ginny


    May 10th, 2011 at 4:37 AM

    I know that the pain that someone like this is feeling is very real to them but I have a hard time imaginign going through life always being with this kind of hurt and emotional distress. What do you think happened to this person to make them not so happy for such long periods of time? Do you think that for most of them it is some chemical thing that triggers these kinds of sad emotions day in and day out? Or do you think that for most of them it is either something that they have experienced or conversely may have missed out on that starts them down this road to constant distress and sadness? I would love to hear some varying thoughts on that. I have this gut feeling that no one is simply born being this sad, that nature does not work this way and that it must be something environmental.

  • julian m

    julian m

    May 10th, 2011 at 8:15 PM

    if there is any problem there are solutions too…whether the problem is physical,mental or of whatever kind there are solutions,there is help…endin your life is not a solution…!

  • Dionne


    May 14th, 2011 at 4:24 PM

    I don’t believe that depression passes with time. I think it’s more like a weed. If you don’t do something about it and make sure you kill it for good, it won’t ever truly go away.

  • Trina


    May 14th, 2011 at 10:20 PM

    @Dionne–it’s reminiscent of a cancer isn’t it. It just gets worse without sustained treatment. You can live with it sometimes, but if you get help you’ll have a much better quality of life. Bless them all.

  • Douglas


    May 14th, 2011 at 11:15 PM

    It’s sad that even with treatment, depression can reach a level where it completely dominates all forms of medicine and refuses to be subdued by meds. I think depression sufferers that are in that category would be more prone to contemplating suicide than most.

  • Christopher


    May 15th, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    @Douglas. That’s not sad, that’s scary. Even scarier is that it can happen to any one of us and we can’t do a thing to stop it. You would think millions of years of evolution would allow us to handle the bad things that inevitably happen in life and not succumb.

  • Cynthia Lubow, MFT

    Cynthia Lubow, MFT

    May 16th, 2011 at 12:24 AM

    As with most ways of being, I believe depression is a combination of genetics and environment. Terrible things happen to some people who seem to be born with resilience, and they are able to handle these strikes completely differently than other people can, and not get depressed, or not feel suicidal. Sometimes that can be due to what positive influences they had when they were children, but other times it is just what they were born with. Other people have loving parenting and nothing terrible happens and yet still feel life as unbearably painful–sometimes for no reason that is apparent to them or anyone else. We are all fascinatingly different mixes of human traits, and everyone’s individual experience has to be understood and respected as their unique version of being human.

  • Pyre


    June 17th, 2011 at 1:41 AM

    My name is Pyre and I’m 14 years old.

    I overdosed on sleeping pills (took about 50 pills in all). For a minute or two I was fine and then I began to feel sort of shaky–a little wobbly. Then I experienced the most wonderful feeling and I saw blackness edging into my vision. I was slipping away when (I don’t know why) I asked my mom, “Mom, if somebody took a lot of sleeping pills would they die?” Dazedly, I dimly realized that my words were slurred and came out unusually slow. My mom’s eyes widened in shock and then she lit out of her chair and began beating me around my head and face shouting, “Why do you want to die, huh? Why did you take the pills?” Those were the last words I heard before I became unconscious.

    In the same day, I woke up in the hospital. I was groggy and kept slipping in and out of focus. Only later did I remember what my mother did to me when I was clearly dying. If I had been taken to the hospital even five minutes later I would have died. My mother knew that and yet she beat the hell out of me.

    My parents took me home afterwards (on the same day in the evening). I was still groggy and kept passing out. When my dad and I got home my mother was waiting for me. When she saw me, she beat me again but I didn’t feel anything because I was slowly slipping back into my blissful unconscious state.

    The next morning I woke up. The first thing I registered was that I was fully conscious–and extremely angry. I swore that this time I’d make sure I would definitely die. I went downstairs and made a beeline for the medicine cabinet. I grabbed the first packet of pills my fingers touched, poured myself a glass of water and downed all the pills (around 20 or so pills). Later, my sister told me I took my dog’s pain reliever medicine. My dad was out at the time but as soon as he came home my sister alerted him. He became angry and told me, “Ok! Fine! You want to die, just go die! I’m sick and tired of you!”

    I went to my room, lay down on my bed and fell asleep. I woke a few hours later, still tired. Oh, well. I’ll do better next time–but not overdoses. Next time, I’ll jump off a building and hope that I won’t land on anybody.

  • Concern for Pyre

    Concern for Pyre

    June 17th, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    Hi Pyre,
    It is very brave of your to express your pain with others. From your writing, it is clear you experience living in an environment where you are frequently hurt, experience abusive behavior from your parents, and you may feel unloved to the point of wanting to end your life. It must be incredibly difficult and painful to feel your life is undervalued in your own family and home. Though you may feel stuck in your abusive home environment, do know it is not permanent, and there will be people in your life that love you fully, value every part of you, and want to see you happy.

    Pyre, your life will be one worth living if you get some help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 and I strongly encourage you to reach out and talk to someone who can work with you to see how precious your life is and help you make changes to create a supportive environment for you. You are deserving of being loved and loving others, and asking for help is the first step. I strongly recommend that you call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at the number above OR go to your local emergency room as soon as possible.

  • Mincy


    October 8th, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    I wonder if Pyre will come back to read responses. I’ve lived this pain my whole life. I’m over 40 now. I used to overdose similar to Pyre’s situation, but for me it was in my 20’s – after I was out of the hell-hole of house.

    I found this site because I’m searching on how physical pain is treated that is a result of emotional trauma. My life went from abuse of all sorts to depression, PTSD, and chronic physical pain. It seems evident now that the physical pain is a result of the trauma.

    Sometimes, I reflect on why I eventually stopped the suicide attempts. Even now, though, I would rather be dead than alive. There are 2 people who I believe would feel that they failed if I commit suicide. I try to think of ways to make it seem like an accident so I can put an end to this.

    My doctor tries to convince me I have gifts to offer and would feel less despair if I was productive in some way helping others. Today, though, I haven’t been able to get dressed and pretty much lying down the whole time because of the back pain.

    Okay, here’s some things that have made me less miserable than in my 20’s: years of therapy have given me more skills to cope with day-to-day difficulties (like memories of the past, dealing with difficult people, problem solving in general) so I have fewer times when I can’t see past the issue I’m facing at the moment.

    Also, I’ve come to believe that my behaviors and thoughts are due to illness. Feeling like you want to suicide or all kinds of ways I haven’t been functional are a result of what happened and of the resulting illnesses, including depression. Knowing that doesn’t make the pain go away for me, but it does make it clear that I’m not being a drama queen or cry-baby or any of the negative labels people have for someone who struggles to the point that it affects their ability to live every day.

    It bothers me when people try to compare anything to major depression. Yes, life has all kinds of struggles, but when you don’t have support, coping skills, but DO have unrelenting negative thoughts and feelings, wanting to end it is a natural part of it. If no one has made you feel valuable and you can’t see the light of day, it’s a whole different experience of life. I came out of the depression once for a month. I saw colors, notice nature, … I just *felt* like doing things. I didn’t struggle to get out of bed, I just moved from one thing to another with an ease I had never imagined. I tried hard to memorize what that was like. (it was when I started a medicine — later use of it was not effective).

    So, for Pyre, there are people waiting to help you and maybe the awfulness will lift for you. There are many people like me only semi- responding to treatment, too, though. And for us, we still face the choice. That part about not wanting to land on anybody is actually a big part of forging ahead. When someone is found dead, it’s like they have landed on people including whoever finds you, and maybe someone you can’t even think of most of the time who would be crushed (no pun intended). If you have a tendency not to want to hurt others, that shows that you are worthy of good things. If you can wait until help arrives, try to see how that goes. I guess I usually resign myself to carrying on – as miserable as I usually am – because no one is promised a good time in life and I still hope to get better, to be loved and all that.

  • tash


    October 24th, 2014 at 4:14 AM

    Mincy i am the same. major depression sufferer and i am forty now. i do not look forward to another twenty years of this. There isnt really anything to make me this way. i seem to have been born like it.

    i have some mood changes, also diagnosed with dysthmia, and like your month of reprieve – i too have felt the way normal poeple do for a a few days here and there where burhsing teeth, dressing, getting groceries is all done with such ease , it feels miraculous. i am so jealous of those who do not have this. medication does not take it away and ive been in therapy for twenty years.

    i feel im waiting to die as i cannot even be bothered to try suicide anymore. just have no energy. unrelenting inner pain is very hard to live with decade in and decade out.

  • katt


    April 2nd, 2016 at 12:53 PM

    Ive attempted suicide twice, seriously. As in two times in my life i have wanted to die, just to be dead, and taken actions to make this happen. Once when i was 17 in a mental unit. I escaped out the door after asking to go buy a snack from the vending machine. It wasnt a locked door.. it was a pull and i was out. I attempted to run infront of a moving car but by the time id made it to the road 6 SIX nurses were on me pulling me back.
    When i was 19 , .. last summer
    I got very drunk on spirits very fast. I basically just legged it and dove in front of a car.
    I woke up in resus after being aware of lying on the floor but unable to move and drifting in and out in the ambulance.
    I was perfectly fine when i woke up. Not a single broken bone or split in my skin.
    Now im 20 and i just think to myself, i must be here for a reason
    god knows what reason but i guess despite all my pain and having bpd.. im willing to stay and find out.

  • worthless


    July 1st, 2016 at 3:58 PM

    I feel very similar to many of you. Abusive/neglectful upbringing, completely devalued. In my 40’s now. Also born with chemical imbalance which has magnified the effects of abuse. I let people use me, I have no friends. Now I am getting physical pain in my hip and back from years of exercising and getting old. I want out so badly

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    The GoodTherapy.org Team

    July 1st, 2016 at 4:48 PM


    Thank you for your comment. The GoodTherapy.org team is not qualified to offer professional advice, but we urge you to reach out. If you feel you may be in danger of harming yourself or others, please contact local law enforcement or visit your nearest emergency room immediately. You can find additional crisis resources on this page: https://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html

    We are very sorry to hear of what you are experiencing. Please know you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY), at any time, day or night. You can also access online crisis support here: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

    If you would like to find a therapist or counselor in your area, you can search for one using our website: https://www.goodtherapy.org/find-therapist.html

    Please know you are not alone. Help is available, and we encourage you to reach out.

    Kind regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • St


    July 18th, 2016 at 8:29 PM

    Its when you put your all into a life and devote yourself full. You love unconditionally opening yourself completely then find that all you believed in was a lie. You were chested on and hurt over and over and your partner talks about wanting you dead and all you feel is absolutely gutted. It can subside for moments but doesn’t go away. EvEnjoy when you think you can feel better that person reaches inside of you and rips you to shreds. You know you should leave but you can’t stand the thought of being without them either and you’ve lost everyone around because of them. Then you get sick, terminally sick and you just want to be held but the waiting at a hospital window is endless, the pain inside is killing you, you want to escape. Because even in your sleep you feel it, waking with migraines and wet face from tears. There’s never any escape. Then you think you might get stronger so you say to yourself, screw this, and that’s when physically you’re feeling weaker and your health grabs you and pulls you back down so you want those arms around you again, but they’re never there. Then they come and it’s only to yell at you, to hurt you more, to tell you about everything else that matters but you. You try to get stronger again and be mad because that’s better than pain but it doesn’t last long. So you plan and you try to do that responsible thing. You’re sorry for those that will hurt, truly sorry, but you just can’t take it anymore and when there’s nothing left to plan it’s each second you still try to push through but it’s like you’ve tied an anchor around your throat and dug it into a tall tree but two attached to your feet, you’re being pulled apart, shredded, gutted with every millisecond and you can’t find any reasons why anymore only all the pain to say why not. You breathe and try to think back to happy times. It gets silent in your head for a little bit as you’re searching but then you remember all that’s so far away and most of those people are gone. Then you think about being alone and the one you love so much leaving you alone and hurting you and thinking you’ll never physically get better and the migraine takes over and you cry but it doesn’t matter cause there’s never going to be someone there to dry your tears. And you just want to stop.

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    The GoodTherapy.org Team

    July 19th, 2016 at 11:34 AM

    Hi St,
    We read your comment and wanted to reach out to give you some resources that may be of help if you are ever in danger of hurting yourself or someone else. First, if you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, feeling suicidal, overwhelmed, or in crisis, it’s very important that you get immediate help! You can do one of the following immediately:

    Call your local law enforcement agency (911).
    Go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
    Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY).

    You can also search GoodTherapy.org for a therapist in your area, here: https://www.goodtherapy.org/find-therapist.html

    Please know there are people who care, and help is available! We appreciate your comment and are sending our best wishes for your healing. ♥

    Kind regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Wendi


    April 8th, 2017 at 10:10 PM

    Don’t ever call law and enforcement, ambulances, or hospitals–they’ll lock you up for the rest of your life. Then you will wish you were dead.

  • Wendi


    April 8th, 2017 at 10:12 PM

    My former psychiatrist told me if I ever attempted suicide, she’d have me locked up. Ever see the movie ‘Girl, Interrupted?’

  • Bruce C.

    Bruce C.

    July 6th, 2017 at 9:06 PM

    there are others like me who have been abused by the ones that raised us I am one of those my first memory of my dad was when i broke my arm he beat me kicking holding me by my hair why? I was little afraid had such a shock on me. mental along all the way your retarded stupid dummy always afraid of him. beatings he somewhat raised me like a horse. he broke my spirit and now I have physical pain the mental pain. I do have children and grandchildren and I stay away and feel guilty. now i am 54 and have been in prison 2 times i am a klepto steel things. addict trying to kill the pain of me. been on all different meds I seem to just get by when i take them no progress no emotions. have no desire to shop do just the simple things takes lots of strength. i am tired. sleep 12 to16 hours a day. iam tired.

  • JC


    October 22nd, 2017 at 9:58 PM

    I can relate the last couple of comments. I’ve tried just about everything from hospitals, police calling an ambulance, googled for years just hoping I can read something to make me feel worth living. I would rather be dead every day and get suicidal at times. I’m down now to the one thing that’s keeping me from suicide and that it would cause my parents a lot of pain. They’ve done everything they can or know to do. I made a promise to my mom that I would not kill myself as long as my dad and her are alive. I’m out of options after that. Hoping a miracle pill would be found. I’m on max dosage for 2 antidepressants, antipsycotic, and anxiety pills. I take all of that to just “be”.

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