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. 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

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

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.

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.


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. 

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 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. 

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