Three-day Rule


Forewarning: this post discusses suicide.

Hello all! Still alive? Yes, me too. I’m going to credit this fact to the three-day rule.

No, not the dating three-day rule. I’m not qualified to give relationship advice!

This rule: if you are going to commit suicide, wait three days…or five days…or a week. Just wait.

Suicide might seem like a really good idea – or, at least, a very tempting idea – at a particular moment. But there is a very real chance that if you wait at least three days, it won’t seem so appealing.

Now, if three days seems like way too long, or if you still intend to attempt suicide after three days, I’ll encourage you to call emergency services (911, 999, 112, or whatever it is in your location), or a suicide hotline (here’s a list of hotlines by country), or go to an emergency room, or talk to somebody…anybody.

But the decision to commit suicide can be a very impulsive one. And impulses pass.

For me, the impulse came on very suddenly. One moment, I was okay (well, as okay as I ever am). The next moment, I was very much not okay. In under an hour, I had a method and a note planned. But I still had a few details to work out (I’m a stickler for details, even in a life-or-death situation it seems!). While trying to work out those details, I came across the three-day rule online. Three days isn’t very many – it’s very few in comparison to being gone for all of eternity – so I figured I could suffer through them. By the end of those three days (hell, by the end of the next day), the impulse was gone.

I’m glad the impulse passed. I’m okay (again: as okay as I ever am). I still have bad days, and I still have suicidal thoughts sometimes. But not every day is awful. Some decent things happened in the months following – like eating great food, or watching interesting T.V., or petting a dog, or talking to my family, or meeting my goddaughter, or spending time with my friends – and I would have missed out on those things if I hadn’t followed the three-day rule.

Take things one day at a time…or three days at a time. Whatever works for you.

If you want to read more about the three-day rule, try this website.


Side note: apparently, the blog is 5 years old today! It doesn’t feel like 5 years!

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  1. I’m glad that you waited and that the impulse passed. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Congrats on 5 years!

    I remember when I was teenager, the impulses hit so frequently that one day I just decided to get some notes written and certain affairs in order (I went to the bank and set up my siblings as beneficiaries for my funds if anything were to happen to me). My therapist introduced me to the concept of purposefully waiting for a couple of days, tracking how I felt about it each day, and I found that it passed more easily when I was focusing on getting through the next 2 or 3 days.

    I’m glad we did it and I’m optimistic that we can both continue to do so!

  3. Henry95

     /  February 9, 2017

    I’ve recently come across this blog, and just want to say how brilliant (and relatable) it is. Some of your posts have really hit home. Keep writing!

  4. I like this idea! I will try that the next time I feel suicidal! xoxo

  5. Hi Michelle, love that you share your experience living with Depression. We just started designing infographics for certain health conditions to create awareness and just finished one for Depression, you can see it here:

    Please feel free to share it on your blog 🙂


  6. I’ve never tried this before. Usually I try to reach out and distract myself with help, but this could help. Thank you.

  7. Ika

     /  March 13, 2017

    Congrats on your 5 years. I think I’m the newest reader of your blog, just made my debut on WP like 4 days ago ^^

    Yeah, that three-day rule is true, it really works. I usually take less than the exact three days since I got distracted very easily and personally thinking that I could be doing so many other things and works just got really busy helps me a lot so, it’s like the thoughts don’t really go away you just have something even more stronger to take it down. But other times it would take me the whole weekend to bear it. I avoid any kind of contacts at the times because everything literally seems like a nightmare.

  8. Congratulations on 5 years! And I think you are wise beyond your years. I am 60 years young, 🙂 and I have struggled with depression for a long time. One of the things that helps me a lot is snuggling with my cat in the evenings, and I love to take long walks in nature and chatting with good friends. Bless your heart for this blog and for sharing.

  9. Emotions can sometimes overrule our minds. Glad that your impulses have passed. Congrats on your five years!

  10. Alyssa

     /  May 25, 2017

    Thank you so much for writing this.. I appreciate your existence. I’m going to wait.

  11. I am really glad you suggested this. It has made a difference for me.

  12. amazing, great advice. I am also gald you took those three days, as i may not have been introduced to your blog x Thank you! Keep pressing on.

  13. Jan

     /  June 4, 2017

    If waiting three days is enough to change your mind my guess would be that you’re highly emotionally unstable and unable to form accurate estimates about your situation and its evolution. In that situation it makes sense to wait and recover one’s senses.

    Obviously this completely differs from an objectively hopeless situation where it’s simply impossible to change one’s life sufficiently to make it liveable. To me this has little to do with an arbitrary amount of time passing but with collecting information, dialogue if possible, weighing of options and experimenting with reasonable alternatives. After devoting the mental and physical energy to resolving this question in my opinion it’s perfectly rational to take one’s leave from the world.

    Waiting a while before committing to a course of action that has potentially serious consequences is simple common-sense but apparantly it’s a major discovery in suicide prevention. More importantly one should perform a rational appraisal of the situation before embarking on a potentially fatal course of action.

    Luckily I’ve never felt an irresistible compulsion to attempt to kill myself but once when I had drunk myself into a stupor to numb the pain. Tip: that’s a very bad idea as it will completely disable your capacity to think. The result wasn’t pretty.

    • It does seem like it should be common sense, doesn’t it? But the suicidal mind is often impulsive – much like alcohol, the impulsiveness overrides your capacity to think objectively (though I think you’ll find most suicidal people believe they are thinking rationally in that moment). The three day rule is simply about waiting a short time for the impulsivity to pass so you can be more rational about things.

  14. When I was 16 I once heard someone say, “before you kill yourself, run away.” I’ve been running ever since. It kept me alive but now that I’ve stopped running, I have to deal with 20 years of avoided pain. Thankfully I can sorta laugh about it. Now I have A new rule… That I must write my life story before I can kill myself. I think this rule is an improvement because it forces me to deal with the pain rather than running. Regardless, any rule is a good rule of it keeps you alive. Thank you for the post. ☺

  15. I’ve done this too, but I still feel suicidal after three days, or even a week. I feel like, when I wait, I’m just thinking about it more, but when I distract myself, I can go longer without having the urge. I’m glad this worked for you, because I love reading your blog, and I would be sad if you died.

  16. matt

     /  February 6, 2018

    I’m currently drinking and writing a suicide note. I can’t imagine things getting any better. My life doesn’t have enough nice things in it to warrent a 3-day challenge. Thanks anyway

  17. Taking things three days at a time is definitely working out for me. I’m so glad I found your blog. Thanks.


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