Suicide Poems

Suicide is a complex and often a taboo subject that has been explored through poetry for centuries. Poets use language to convey the pain, despair, and confusion often accompanying suicidal thoughts and actions. Poems about suicide can be difficult to read but can also be powerful and thought-provoking.

Many famous poets throughout history have written about suicide, including Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and Robert Frost. These poets often used their personal experiences with depression, anxiety, and trauma to create moving and honest portrayals of mental health struggles.

While poems about suicide can be intense and emotional, they can also offer a sense of catharsis and healing. Reading and writing poetry about suicide can be a way to process difficult emotions and connect with others who may be going through similar struggles.

It is important to remember that suicide is a serious issue that requires professional help and support: help is available, such as with international suicide hotlines. Still, poetry can be a powerful tool for raising awareness and starting important conversations about mental health.

Suicide’s Note

by Langston Hughes

‘Suicide’s Note’ is a three-line poem that speaks from the perspective of someone who wants to take their own life. They feel the “cool face” of the river asking them for a “kiss.”

This is one of the most interesting poems about suicide. The calm and cool face of the river can be interpreted as a metaphor for the idea of death or suicide, which is often seen as a peaceful escape from the struggles of life. The river's request for a kiss can be read as a temptation to end one's life, to give in to the desire to end suffering and seek the calmness of death. The poem can be seen as a meditation on the allure of suicide, and the difficulty of resisting the temptation to end one's pain.

The calm, 

Cool face of the river

Asked me for a kiss. 

Suicide in the Trenches

by Siegfried Sassoon

‘Suicide in the Trenches’ is an incredibly tragic poem. Siegfried Sassoon explores the mental deterioration of a young soldier in the trenches of WW1 and his suicide.

The poem "Suicide in the Trenches" directly deals with suicide in the context of war. It portrays a young soldier who cannot cope with the war's physical and psychological trauma, ultimately leading him to take his own life. The poem is deeply sad and highly effective.

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.

Lady Lazarus

by Sylvia Plath

‘Lady Lazarus’ is one of the best poems of Sylvia Plath and an ideal example of Plath’s diction. This poem contains Plath’s poetic expression of her suicidal thoughts.

Death and suicide are prominent themes throughout the poem. Plath uses the figure of Lazarus, who was raised from the dead, to draw parallels between death and resurrection. She emphasizes the inevitability of death and the desire for control over one's life. Through her portrayal of suicide, Plath challenges societal norms and expectations and offers a powerful commentary on the human condition and the struggle for meaning in life.

I have done it again.

One year in every ten

I manage it——

The Suicide’s Soliloquy

by Abraham Lincoln

‘The Suicide’s Soliloquy’ is a dark poem about sorrow and suicide which some believe was written by the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

The poem's narrator is contemplating suicide and describes the place where he intends to end his life. He longs for the relief that death will bring and sees it as the only solution to his misery. This poem is written in beautiful language that is as haunting as it is interesting.

Here where the lonely hooting owl

Sends forth his midnight moans,

Fierce wolves shall o’er my carcase growl

Or buzzards pick my bones.


by Anne Sexton

‘Rowing’ by Anne Sexton is a moving and unforgettable poem about depression. It was written two years before Sexton took her life in 1974.

The mention of the "gnawing pestilential rat" and the speaker's desire to get rid of it is often interpreted as a reference to suicidal thoughts. This seems particularly important, considering that only a few days after writing this poem, Anne Sexton committed suicide.

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

Don’t kill yourself today

by Hannah Dains

‘Don’t kill yourself today’ by Hannah Dains is a thoughtful and powerful poem about suicide. The poet explores all the reasons someone has to stay alive and expresses her love for those struggling with depression.

The poem directly addresses suicide, urging the reader not to proceed. It acknowledges that suicide might seem like a solution but points out that it is a permanent one to a temporary problem. Although this poem is directed at young readers who are suffering from depression, it's also likely going to feel relatable to other readers as well.

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 the fridge.

The Portrait

by Stanley Kunitz

‘The Portrait’ by Stanley Kunitz is a sad poem about the speaker’s ill-fated attempt to learn more about their deceased father.

Although the poem deals with the effects of the father's suicide, the speaker doesn't speculate or even ponder the act for very long. Instead, the focus is on how such a loss has cratered the lives of the speaker and their mother, leaving nothing but emptiness and anger in its wake.

My mother never forgave my father

for killing himself,

especially at such an awkward time

and in a public park,

Bag of Mice

by Nick Flynn

‘Bag of Mice’ by Nick Flynn is a powerful poem that describes a speaker’s dream and a listener’s suicide note. It uses short, evocative lines that are easy to read and hard to forget.

The central theme of the poem is suicide. The author dreams about finding a suicide note written by someone close to him. The note is written on a paper bag, which is then filled with six baby mice. The imagery is dark and unsettling, suggesting that suicide is a deeply disturbing and traumatic experience that leaves a lasting impression 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,

Death in the Arctic

by Robert Service

Robert Service’s ‘Death in the Arctic’ tells a bleak, dark story in such an evocative way that even after the poem finishes, the reader can’t help but wonder for more.

The poem centers around the speaker's contemplation of suicide, which is explicitly stated in the opening lines. The speaker waits for the clock to strike eight when they plan to shoot themselves. The theme of suicide is further explored through the speaker's descriptions of their life struggles and the struggles of their companions in the harsh Arctic environment.

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,

Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note

by Amiri Baraka

‘Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note’ (1961) is the titular poem of Amiri Baraka’s first collection of poems. This piece introduces a depressed narrator engrossed with the thoughts of dying.

The poem does not explicitly mention suicide (except in the title), but it may imply the speaker's contemplation of it through their preoccupation with counting the stars and holes they leave. The poem is incredibly powerful, even though it's quite short. Many readers will find a great deal to relate to within its lines.

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...

Explore more poems about Suicide

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost

Robert Frost, aka ‘nature boy,’ penned this lovely poem, ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ in 1922, subsequently published with his long poem, ‘New Hampshire’.

While not explicitly mentioned in the poem, the idea of suicide is suggested in the speaker's contemplation of the peaceful allure of death. The poem can be seen as a reflection on the complexities of life and the desire for escape.

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

Ellen West

by Frank Bidart

‘Ellen West’ by Frank Bidart is a long poem capturing the life-defining moments of Ellen West, a woman who was the signature case for existential analysis in the 19th century. The poem is narrated majorly by West herself, with her doctor Ludwig Binswanger intermittently rendering a clinical analysis of her behaviour.

This topic is only explored in later sections of the poem. West's contemplation of suicide is most evident in the poem's climax (section eight); she debates in her mind if it is better not to have a body.

I love sweets,—


would be dying on a bed of vanilla ice cream . . .

But my true self

is thin, all profile

Summer Solstice, New York City

by Sharon Olds

‘Summer Solstice, New York City’ by Sharon Olds is a deeply moving poem that conveys the tender importance of remembering our capacity for human compassion.

The poem opens with a potential suicide and thankfully ends with the man choosing not to go through with it. Due to the distance, the speaker has from the man, the poem does not offer an intimate look at suicide itself or the depression that fuels it. Instead, the poem offers a positive and optimistic reaction to such a possible tragedy.

By the end of the longest day of the year he could not stand it,

he went up the iron stairs through the roof of the building

Cottage Street, 1953

by Richard Wilbur

‘Cottage Street, 1953’ by Richard Wilbur is a powerful poem based on the poet’s own experience. It depicts a simple social meeting between his family and the Plaths.

The poet alludes to suicide and death throughout this poem, specifically the death of Sylvia Plath, an important 20th-century, confessional poet.

Framed in her phoenix fire-screen, Edna Ward

Bends to the tray of Canton, pouring tea

For frightened Mrs. Plath; then, turning toward

The pale, slumped daughter, and my wife, and me.

The Wind in the Dooryard

by Derek Walcott

‘The Wind in the Dooryard’ by Derek Walcott was written after the death of Eric Roach, a well-respected poet who died by suicide in 1974. This poem is dedicated to his life and work. 

Since Erich Roach, the person to whom this poem is dedicated, took his own life, suicide is necessarily a part of the text. The poet is likely alluding to Roach's death early on in the poem.

I didn't want this poem to come from the torn mouth, I didn't want this poem to come


by Sylvia Plath

‘Contusion’ by Sylvia Plath is a memorable, short poem about death and a loss of passion or meaning in one’s life. It is a dramatic monologue written 12 days before the poet’s death. 

Color floods to the spot, dull purple.

The rest of the body is all washed-out,

The color of pearl.

Henry’s Understanding

by John Berryman

‘Henry’s Understanding’ by John Berryman is a chilling and image-rich description of Berryman’s state of mind towards the end of his life as he contemplated suicide.


by John Payne

‘Hitchhiker’ by John Payne is an interesting poem about a speaker’s reaction to loss. They address someone who has passed away and explore what that means for them.

Sheep In Fog

by Sylvia Plath

The poem ‘Sheep In Fog’ describes Sylvia Plath’s feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, helplessness, and depression.

The hills step off into whiteness.

People or stars

Regard me sadly, I disappoint them.

The Forced Recruit

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

‘The Forced Recruit’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning tells the very real story of a brave Italian man who was forced to fight against his country. 

In the ranks of the Austrian you found him,

He died with his face to you all;

Yet bury him here where around him

You honor your bravest that fall.

The Starry Night

by Anne Sexton

‘The Starry Night’ by Anne Sexton is an ekphrastic that explores Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. It delves into the emotions that a speaker interprets in the painted elements.

The View From Halfway Down (Bojack Horseman)

by Undefined Poet

‘The View From Halfway Down’ is a short poem included in an episode of Bojack Horseman. It provides readers with a unique insight into the mind of someone who is moments from his death and experiences an intense regret for his choice to end his life.

Wanting to Die

by Anne Sexton

‘Wanting to Die’ by Anne Sexton is a poem about the poet’s desire to take her own life. It was written close to ten years before she committed suicide. 

We're glad you like visiting Poem Analysis...

We've got everything you need to master poetry

But, are you ready to take your learning

to the next level?