The haunting allure of poetry lies in its ability to capture the rawest of human emotions, giving voice to feelings that often remain unspoken. When it comes to the delicate and deeply personal topic of suicide, poems become a refuge for those ensnared in its shadow. They offer a glimpse into the tumultuous storm of emotions — the despair, the loneliness, the pain — that many silently endure. Through the verses of these poems, we are granted a profound understanding, a bridge to the hearts of those who pen them, allowing us to resonate with their feelings and, in doing so, find a shared sense of humanity.
Throughout history, many renowned poets, including Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and Robert Frost, have penned verses on suicide. Drawing from their personal experiences with depression, anxiety, and trauma, these poets have provided moving and honest portrayals of mental health struggles.
10 Poems About Suicide
‘Suicide’s Note’ by Langston Hughes
This three-line poem speaks from the perspective of someone contemplating ending their life. The river’s “cool face” is a metaphor for the allure of death, presenting it as a peaceful escape from life’s struggles.
Cool face of the river
Asked me for a kiss.
‘Suicide in the Trenches’ by Siegfried Sassoon
Siegfried Sassoon paints a tragic picture of a young soldier’s mental deterioration in WW1’s trenches, leading to his suicide. The poem is a poignant reminder of war’s devastating effects on the human psyche.
I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.
In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.
You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.
‘Lady Lazarus’ by Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath’s masterpiece delves into her own suicidal thoughts. Using the figure of Lazarus, who was resurrected from the dead, Plath explores the themes of death, resurrection, and the human desire for control over one’s destiny.
I have done it again.One year in every tenI manage it——A sort of walking miracle, my skinBright as a Nazi lampshade,My right footA paperweight,My face a featureless, fineJew linen.Peel off the napkinO my enemy.Do I terrify?——…
‘The Suicide’s Soliloquy’ by Abraham Lincoln
Believed to be penned by Abraham Lincoln, this poem captures the contemplation of suicide. The narrator longs for the relief that death promises, seeing it as the only escape from his torment.
Here where the lonely hooting owl
Sends forth his midnight moans,
Fierce wolves shall o’er my carcase growl
Or buzzards pick my bones.
No fellow-man shall learn my fate,
Or where my ashes lie;
Unless by beasts drawn round their bait,
Or by the ravens’ cry.
Yes! I’ve resolved the deed to do,
And this the place to do it:
This heart I’ll rush a dagger through,
Though I in hell should rue it!
Hell! What is hell to one like me
Who pleasures never knew;
By friends consigned to misery
By hope deserted too?
‘Rowing’ by Anne Sexton
Written by Anne Sexton, this poem is a haunting reflection on depression. The mention of a “gnawing pestilential rat” is a metaphor for suicidal thoughts, making it a deeply moving piece.
A story, a story!
(Let it go. Let it come.)
I was stamped out like a Plymouth fender
into this world.
First came the crib
with its glacial bars.
and the devotion to their plactic mouths.
Then there was school,
the little straight rows of chairs,
blotting my name over and over,
but undersea all the time,
a stranger whose elbows wouldn’t work.
Then there was life
with its cruel houses
and people who seldom touched-
though touch is all
‘Don’t kill yourself today’ by Hannah Dains
Hannah Dains urges readers to find reasons to stay alive, emphasizing that suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems.
Don’t kill yourself today because your Netflix free trial still has a week left.
Don’t kill yourself today because no one else will finish off the chicken in
Don’t kill yourself today because I know for a fact Starbucks is introducing a new frappachino sometime next month.
Yes, your mother will miss you.
Yes, your bully will make a sappy facebook post about what a wonderful person you were.
Yes, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but you know that.
You’ve known that.
‘The Portrait’ by Stanley Kunitz
Stanley Kunitz’s poem delves into the aftermath of a father’s suicide, focusing on the lasting impact on his family.
My mother never forgave my father
for killing himself,
especially at such an awkward time
and in a public park,
when I was waiting to be born.
She locked his name
in her deepest cabinet
and would not let him out,
though I could hear him thumping.
When I came down from the attic
with the pastel portrait in my hand
of a long-lipped stranger
with a brave moustache
and deep brown level eyes,
she ripped it into shreds
without a single word
and slapped me hard.
In my sixty-fourth year
I can feel my cheek
‘Bag of Mice’ by Nick Flynn
Nick Flynn’s poem revolves around a dream of finding a close one’s suicide note, highlighting the trauma and lasting impression left on those left behind.
I dreamt your suicide note
was scrawled in pencil on a brown paperbag,
& in the bag were six baby mice. The bag
opened into darkness,
from the top down. The mice,
huddled at the bottom, scurried the bag
across a shorn field. I stood over it
& as the burning reached each carbon letter
of what you’d written
your voice released into the night
like a song, & the mice
‘Death in the Arctic’ by Robert Service
Robert Service’s poem captures the contemplation of suicide amidst the harsh Arctic environment, emphasizing life’s struggles.
I took the clock down from the shelf;
“At eight,” said I, “I shoot myself.”
It lacked a minute of the hour,
And as I waited all a-cower,
A skinful of black, boding pain,
Bits of my life came back again. . . .
“Mother, there’s nothing more to eat —
Why don’t you go out on the street?
Always you sit and cry and cry;
Here at my play I wonder why.
Mother, when you dress up at night,
Red are your cheeks, your eyes are bright;
Twining a ribband in your hair,
Kissing good-bye you go down-stair.
Then I’m as lonely as can be.
‘Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note’
Amiri Baraka’s poem introduces a narrator engrossed with thoughts of dying, providing a powerful commentary on the human condition.
Lately, I’ve become accustomed to the way
The ground opens up and envelopes me
Each time I go out to walk the dog.
Or the broad edged silly music the wind
Makes when I run for a bus…
Things have come to that.
And now, each night I count the stars,
And each night I get the same number.
And when they will not come to be counted,
I count the holes they leave.
Nobody sings anymore.
And then last night, I tiptoed up
To my daughter’s room and heard her
Talking to someone, and when I opened
The door, there was no one there…
Only she on her knees, peeking into
A Beacon of Hope by Lucas Elizabeth
My poem emphasizes finding hope in the darkest of times, offering a guiding light to navigate through despair and find strength within.
In the darkest hour, when shadows loom,
And despair engulfs like impending doom,
Remember, my friend, there’s a guiding light,
A beacon of hope in the darkest night.
Though storms may rage and tears may fall,
Within your heart, strength will stand tall.
Seek out the love that surrounds your soul,
For in its embrace, you can be whole.
The Warrior Within by Lucas Elizabeth
“The Warrior Within” celebrates the inner strength and resilience that resides within each of us, encouraging us to face life’s challenges with courage.
In battles unseen, you’re a warrior strong,
Fighting your battles, righting the wrongs.
Though the path is steep, and the journey is long,
Inside you, a warrior, courageous and strong.
With every sunrise, a new chance to try,
To spread your wings, let your spirit fly.
Embrace the battles, both old and new,
For the warrior within, my friend, is you.
The Lifeline of Friendship by Lucas Elizabeth
This poem highlights the importance of friendship as a lifeline of support during difficult moments, emphasizing that you are not alone in your struggles.
In times of darkness, you’re not alone,
In the hearts of friends, a place to call home.
Reach out your hand, and you will see,
A lifeline of friendship, for you and me.
Together we stand, through thick and thin,
With open hearts, we’ll let love in.
No matter the storm, we’ll weather the tide,
For in friendship’s embrace, we find strength inside.
Tomorrow’s Promise by Lucas Elizabeth
“Tomorrow’s Promise” reminds us that even in the bleakest moments, the promise of a new day brings hope and the opportunity for a fresh start.
When nights are long and skies are gray,
And it feels like hope has gone away,
Remember this truth, through joy and strife,
Tomorrow holds the promise of a brand-new life.
Though today may seem like endless night,
With courage and love, you’ll see the light.
Hold on to dreams, let your spirit soar,
For in tomorrow’s promise, we find hope once more.
In this collection of poems about suicide, we have explored the depths of human emotions, from the darkest despair to the glimmers of hope. It is crucial to approach this topic with sensitivity and understanding, as it affects countless individuals worldwide.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please seek help. You are not alone, and there are resources available to support you.
- Is it okay to write and read poems about suicide? Yes, it can be a way to process and understand complex emotions. However, it’s essential to approach the topic with care and sensitivity.
- Where can I find more poems about mental health and resilience? Many poetry collections and online platforms feature poems on these topics. A simple internet search can lead you to various resources.
- How can I support a friend who is going through a tough time? Be there to listen without judgment, encourage them to seek professional help if needed, and remind them that you care.
- Are there helplines available for individuals in crisis? Yes, there are helplines such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that provide immediate support to those in need.
- What can I do to promote mental health awareness in my community? You can organize events, share informative resources, and engage in open conversations about mental health to reduce stigma and raise awareness.