Suicidal ideation is a serious problem, and it requires immediate medical attention. With the ability to recognize suicidal thoughts in oneself and others and take appropriate action, it is possible to prevent suicide.
What Are Suicidal Thoughts?
Suicidal ideation refers to thinking about or planning suicide. Suicidal thoughts may range from a one-time, fleeting consideration of suicide to chronic thoughts about dying, and even specific plans to take one’s own life.
Common symptoms of suicidal thoughts include withdrawal from social contact or activities that were previously enjoyed, mood swings, a preoccupation with death, dying, or violence, feeling hopeless or trapped due to a life situation, giving away personal belongings, and saying goodbye to others as if they won’t be seen again. In addition, some people talk about suicide and make statements about their own death if they are coping with suicidal ideation.
People dealing with suicidal thoughts may also be more prone than others to increased alcohol or drug use, changing their normal routines, and risky or self-destructive behaviors.
What Are the Causes of Suicidal Thoughts?
Suicidal ideation is most frequently caused by a severe case of depression, which requires medical treatment to control. When depression goes untreated for too long, it can become so severe that it causes people to consider or even attempt to take their own life.
Often, suicidal thoughts are associated with an inability to cope with an overwhelming life situation. When a family situation, job, or another life stressor causes immense pressure, the feeling can be too much to handle at times. In this instance, the future may seem bleak, and suicide may appear to be the only solution, although suicide is never the solution
People who previously attempted suicide, are coping with a substance abuse problem, are dealing with major depressive disorder (MDD) or another mood disorder, and/or have a family history of mental health disorders may be more susceptible than others to suicidal thoughts. Along with the previously mentioned risk factors, people with a family history of suicide may be prone to suicidal ideation.
Why Is It Important to Talk About Suicidal Ideation?
At the first sign of suicidal ideation, exploring treatment options with a doctor is key for suicide prevention. Yet, people coping with suicidal thoughts may feel embarrassed or ashamed about their thoughts, which leads them to try to ignore their suicidal ideation or cope with it on their own. Over time, suicidal thoughts may linger, impact the ability to perform everyday tasks and enjoy life, and even result in loss of life.
For people who experience suicidal thoughts or believe a loved one is dealing with them, talking about suicidal ideation and seeking medical attention is crucial. Talking with a mental health professional about suicidal thoughts may help people get support from this professional and find ways to manage suicidal ideation symptoms.
Those experiencing suicidal ideation who prefer to speak with someone outside of their network of family and friends, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-273-8255. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free, confidential support to people coping with suicidal thoughts, along with distress, prevention, and crisis resources.
How to Talk to Loved Ones About Suicide
For those who experience suicidal thoughts and want to reach out to a loved one for support, it is helpful to be direct, describe the suicidal thoughts and the feelings associated with them, and listen to what your loved one has to say in response.
There is no telling how your loved one may respond at the beginning of a discussion about suicidal thoughts, so be open to any reaction. In some instances, they may respond emotionally and be surprised to hear about suicidal thoughts. Regardless of your loved one’s reaction, discuss the topic and try to work together to seek treatment, and ultimately, manage suicidal thoughts.
Ask your loved one for support with suicidal thoughts, and support may also be available from other family members and friends. It is also crucial to meet with a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment of any mental or physical health conditions, alcohol or drug misuse, or medication use that may be contributing to suicidal ideation.
Finally, if suicidal thoughts occur, it is important to remember that life gets better, and getting help is your best way forward. If suicidal thoughts feel too overwhelming, call 911. Treatment options are available to help manage problems that contribute to suicidal thoughts. By discussing suicidal thoughts with a loved one, you are taking the first step to get help.
How to Talk to a Loved One Who May Be Dealing with Suicidal Thoughts
In cases where you believe a loved one is dealing with suicidal thoughts, openly talking and listening is critical. Ask your loved one if suicidal thoughts are occurring. Be sensitive to your loved one’s feelings, and don’t push for answers.
If your loved one does not feel comfortable talking about suicidal thoughts, offer the opportunity to discuss suicidal ideation at any time. Encourage your loved one to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and offer to accompany them to see a doctor who can help them manage their symptoms.
Lastly, if your loved one shows symptoms of suicidal thoughts and acts or talks in a way that indicates a suicide attempt may occur, get medical help immediately. In this instance, your loved one may require hospitalization until the underlying cause of these suicidal thoughts can be treated.
Suicidal thoughts are serious, and they should never be ignored. If you experience suicidal thoughts, discuss your thoughts with a loved one or medical professional, as doing so provides a great starting point for suicide prevention. In the event that a family member or friend may be coping with suicidal ideation, provide support, and offer to be a listening ear who is willing to help them work through their suicidal thoughts.
Appropriate medical diagnosis and treatment are vital for people coping with suicidal thoughts. At Achieve TMS, we provide transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for patients coping with MDD and other mood disorders that can contribute to suicidal ideation. Our knowledgeable medical clinicians can discuss TMS with patients so they can determine if our therapy program can be used to help manage suicidal thoughts and other mood disorder symptoms. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, please contact us online, or call or text us today at 877-296-4968.