Depression Suicide 'I Give Up': What to Do When You Feel Like Giving Up on Life By Nadra Nittle Nadra Nittle LinkedIn Twitter Nadra Nittle is a journalist who has written articles in publications including NBC News, The Guardian, Vox, and Civil Eats. Learn about our editorial process Updated on July 25, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Daniel B. Block, MD Medically reviewed by Daniel B. Block, MD LinkedIn Twitter Daniel B. Block, MD, is an award-winning, board-certified psychiatrist who operates a private practice in Pennsylvania. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print JGI / Jamie Grill / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Understanding Suicidal Ideation Disorders Associated With Suicidal Thoughts Chronic Problems, Burnout, and Trauma Treating Suicidal Thoughts Information in this article might be triggering to some people. If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. If you’ve ever felt like giving up on life, you’re not alone. Experiencing certain health conditions, unexpected events, longtime hardship, or simply feeling like life didn’t turn out as you thought it would are some of the reasons a person can have this feeling. While it’s not unusual to feel this way during particularly trying times, this is a situation that you and your loved ones need to take very seriously. Wanting to give up on life can be a fleeting feeling, but it can also be a precursor to suicide. That’s why it’s important to reach out to a hotline, health care provider, social worker, clergy member, teacher, friend, or family member when this feeling arises. With the right treatment and support, your will to live again can return. Press Play to Learn More About Suicide & Suicidal Ideation Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring psychiatrist Mark Goulston, shares why people have suicidal thoughts, why you shouldn't blame yourself if you've lost someone to suicide, and what to do if you are having suicidal thoughts. Click below to listen now. Follow Now : Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts Understanding Suicidal Ideation A major misconception about suicidal ideation is that it exclusively entails actively taking steps to end one’s life. That’s a form of suicidal ideation, known as active suicidal ideation, but it is not the only kind. An individual can also experience passive suicidal ideation, meaning that one wants to die or feels like giving up on life without having any concrete plans to die by suicide. Passive suicidal ideation should not be taken lightly because people who have lost the will to live may begin to actively contemplate suicide and develop a plan to take their lives rather than hoping for an accident to kill them or simply to never wake up again. Symptoms of suicidal thoughts include a number of behaviors: Fixating on death or dyingGiving away possessionsActually discussing suicide or regretting ever being bornFeelings of hopelessnessMaking one’s goodbyesSecuring guns, pills, or other items to end one’s lifeAn uptick in substance use and other forms of self-harmIsolating oneselfMood swings and other personality changesChanges in daily routinesGetting one’s affairs in order for no apparent reason Risk Factors and Warning Signs of Suicide Disorders Associated With Suicidal Thoughts Suicidal ideation often stems from mood disorders such as: Anxiety disorders Bipolar disorder Major depressive disorder Persistent depressive disorder (also known as dysthymia) It is also linked to: Personality disorders, most notably borderline personality disorder, Hormonal conditions including postpartum depression, perimenopause, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) It’s possible to feel like giving up on life without a diagnosis of these disorders or without experiencing a hormonal shift. Life circumstances may cause one to lose the will to live. This includes a person experiencing grief or bereavement due to the loss of a loved one. Survivors may not want to live in a world that no longer contains their dear friend or family member. Experiencing a breakup or divorce is another time when life might seem too bleak to go on. And losing a job, especially if one’s identity was heavily wrapped up in the role, can lead some people to lose the will to live. People passively contemplating suicide after experiencing major life changes may have situational depression. Situational depression is not an official disorder, but mental health care providers may use the term to describe patients having difficulty adjusting to dramatic life events. They may diagnose these patients as having an adjustment disorder with depressive symptoms. Chronic Problems, Burnout, and Trauma Sometimes people who want to give up on life haven’t endured a dramatic life change. Instead, they may have grown tired of dealing with conditions that are chronic, burnout, and trauma. Chronic Problems A person who has a chronic health problem may no longer want to cope with life through the lens of that condition. Some other life events that may trigger suicidal thoughts include: An individual experiencing a breakup: They may not only feel depressed about the breakup but about the string of failed relationships that fell apart previously. Having a lasting relationship with someone may seem completely out of reach, making the individual feel hopeless about the future or like a failure. Being in a dead-end relationship or job may also feel like life isn’t worth living anymore. An individual may not be able to imagine an existence where their home life or work life is actually fulfilling. Reporting to a job where one is routinely overlooked, devalued, underpaid, or simply not challenged can be depressing. Staying in a bad marriage for the sake of the children, one’s religion, or any other form of obligation can also result in life losing its luster. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Burnout Burnout is another condition that can give rise to suicidal thoughts. Many parents may work during the day, then come home and work a “second shift” that involves cooking, cleaning, and caring for their children, while their spouse or partner does little or nothing to help. Having little downtime, let alone time for self-reflection, can make life seem like a series of endless tasks to complete. People in high-pressure jobs, such as medicine, also experience burnout. With long hours and little sleep, they may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some health care providers took their own lives as they were overwhelmed with deathly ill patients and a lack of resources to help them. Unresolved Trauma Unresolved childhood trauma can also cause people to want to give up on life. Individuals who have experienced abuse throughout childhood and now suffer from complex PTSD (C-PTSD) might have flashbacks, nightmares, trouble trusting others, and thoughts that the world isn’t a safe place. They might also lose their faith in religion, making them feel even more alone as they struggle to recover from childhood wounds. Individuals with C-PTSD may struggle to imagine a world that isn’t defined by the abuse, trauma, and dysfunction of their childhood, resulting in them questioning if life is really worth living. Of course, people who experienced trauma in adulthood might have similar symptoms, but childhood trauma is unique because it impacts the developing brain. Treating Suicidal Thoughts If you feel like you don’t want to live anymore, set up an appointment with a health care provider, particularly a licensed mental health professional, to talk about what you're experiencing. Providers can give you a diagnosis, medications, talk therapy, and other treatment options. They can also give you tips about managing the emotions or circumstances that have led you to want to give up on life. How your mental health professional proceeds with your treatment depends on your symptoms and the cause of them. Wanting to give up on life because of burnout, borderline personality disorder, or situational depression all require different treatment plans. An expert can help you find the protocol that works best for you. Get Help Now We've tried, tested, and written unbiased reviews of the best online therapy programs including Talkspace, Betterhelp, and Regain. Find out which option is the best for you. 3 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Osborn E, Brooks J, O’Brien PMS, Wittkowski A. Suicidality in women with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: a systematic literature review. Arch Womens Ment Health. 2021;24(2):173-184. doi:10.1007/s00737-020-01054-8 Molina N, Viola M, Rogers M, et al. Suicidal ideation in bereavement: a systematic review. Behav Sci. 2019;9(5):53. doi:10.3390/bs9050053. Menon NK, Shanafelt TD, Sinsky CA, et al. Association of physician burnout with suicidal ideation and medical errors. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(12):e2028780. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.28780 By Nadra Nittle Nadra Nittle is a Los Angeles-based journalist and author. She has covered a wide range of topics, including health, education, race, consumerism, food, and public policy, throughout her career. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Depression Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.