Wellness & Education

Suicide – How long does the crisis last?  

A 2007 study involving interviews with 153 attempt survivors revealed that most suicidal crises are short-lived. Participants were asked how long they thought about suicide before making their attempt. The results were:  

Less than 5 minutes: 24% 

5 to 19 minutes: 24% 

2-8 hours: 16% 

1 or more days: 13%  

Another study conducted in 2008 showed that almost half of the survivors who participated had considered suicide less than 10 minutes before their attempt.  

In her book “Helping the Suicidal Person”, Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW, associate professor at the Denver Graduate School of Social Work, suggests that those who are struggling with suicidal ideation could begin by adopting what she calls the “three day rule”, in which a person promises to him or herself that no major life decisions, including suicide, will be decided in less than 3 days. In her blog “Speaking of Suicide”, she writes:  

Time does not heal all wounds, especially not quickly. The 3-day rule aside, I do not mean to imply that you should end your life if you still feel acutely suicidal after three days. 

In some ways, 3 days is a long time. A lot can happen. Feelings can change. Perspective can change. 

Getting a good night’s sleep during those 3 days, or talking with a friend or suicide hotline, or simply surfing the waves of moods, can weaken the suicidal impulse. 

In other ways, 3 days is hardly a blip on the radar screen of an entire life. If after 3 days you still are intent on dying, please get help.”  

And what if you can’t wait for three days? Then it’s time to get help immediately.  

National Suicide Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255) 

Crisis Text Line
text TALK to 741741