Combating Suicidality With Writing

A women sits and writes in her journal

By: Stormy Stewart

Mental distress can often lead to suicidal ideation or behaviors. One of the ways to combat this effectively is with mindfulness, allowing one’s body and mind to rest and return to equilibrium in the face of extreme distress. A common method of practice for mindfulness is writing about the experience.

Suicidal Ideation

Suicidality is, unfortunately, a common experience among those suffering from mental illness. In fact, it does not need to be sustained or chronic distress for a person to feel suicidal. While it is most commonly conflated with depression, suicidal tendencies, thoughts, or behaviors are prevalent with many groups, often relating to one’s identity. Another important fact to consider, in terms of suicidality, is that it typically arises from a feeling of hopelessness, that what one is experiencing will never end. It is important to remind oneself or those struggling with suicidal thoughts that the problem is most likely not permanent while suicide is. 


A treatment concept arising from studies of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses is mindfulness. Mindfulness allows for a patient to learn how to calm their body down in times of distress, including suicidal ideation. The concept is central to dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, and has become more common in cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. The importance of finding emotional equilibrium allows for one to establish a baseline with the goal of returning to it through mindfulness practices during times of high distress. 

Expressive Writing

One common skill promoted in DBT is journaling during suicidal thoughts in order to express them without causing bodily harm. Studies have shown that expressive writing, a form of journaling focused on deep introspection, reduces suicidal thoughts and behaviors. If you find yourself experiencing suicidal thoughts, begin by taking three to five deep breaths to calm your nervous system. After this, find a safe and quiet place to journal. Set a 20-minute timer and begin writing whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t matter if it is nonsensical or grammatically incorrect; all that matters is taking the time to express the thoughts in your mind. At the end of the twenty minutes, repeat the breathing exercise and assess how your body feels.

Expressive Writing is the basis of journaling at The Love Story. Whether you need a skill to reduce suicidality or simply need time to practice mindfulness, we invite you to join our journal artists in guided sessions. Follow the link below to begin your journey with expressive writing.

Begin Journaling Here


Williams, J. M. G., Duggan, D. S., Crane, C., & Fennell, M. J. M. (2005, December 9). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for prevention of recurrence of suicidal behavior. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62(2), 201–210.

Smyth, J. M., Johnson, J. A., Auer, B. J., Lehman, E., Talamo, G., & Sciamanna, C. N. (2018, October 12). Online positive affect journaling in the improvement of mental distress and well-being in general medical patients with elevated anxiety symptoms: A preliminary randomized controlled trial. JMIR Mental Health, 5(4).

Sohal, M., Singh, P., Dhillon, B. S., & Gill, H. S. (2022). Efficacy of journaling in the management of mental illness: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Family Medicine and Community Health, 10(1).

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