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What is Suicide Ideation? The signs one may be thinking about suicide

Dr. Joti Samra

July 09, 2020

Resiliency

What is suicide ideation? The signs one may be thinking about suicide

Suicide ideation means thinking about or planning suicide or wanting to take your own life. This includes all thoughts from fleeting consideration to detailed planning. If you are thinking about suicide, you are not alone. Many people have thoughts of suicide for a number of reasons and the reasoning behind suicidal thoughts is not wrong. You may feel hopeless and think that nothing can be done to change the situation, but know that having these thoughts does not mean you are weak, or ‘crazy’. Often people think about suicide as a means of escape from their feelings, so just because you are thinking about suicide does not mean that you will act on those thoughts.

Due to the stigma attached to mental health and suicide ideation, those who experience these thoughts often feel as though they need to hide them from the people around them. Know that connecting to others when we are having these thoughts is extremely important and talking about mental health breaks down the stigma.

Warning Signs of Suicide Ideation

Warning signs that you or a loved one may be thinking about suicide:

  • Feeling trapped or hopeless

  • Isolating yourself from loved ones

  • Having or appearing to have an abnormal preoccupation with violence, dying, or death

  • Increased mood swings, anger, rage, and/or irritability

  • Engaging in risk-taking behavior like using drugs or having unprotected sex

  • Getting affairs in order and giving things away

  • Accessing the means to harm oneself, such as medication, drugs, or a firearm

  • Experiencing chronic and overwhelming depression or anxiety

  • Talking about being a burden to others

  • Saying goodbye to others as if it were the last time

Causes of suicide ideation

Many people might think suicidal thoughts are attached to mental illnesses like depression or bipolar disorder but there are many causes of suicidal thoughts, some of which are circumstantial. As mentioned previously, suicidal thoughts often accompany thoughts of hopelessness, feeling out of control in life and/or feeling purposelessness. The circumstances that often cause these thoughts are relationship problems, trauma, substance use, a crisis of some sort, the pressure at work, a physical health issue, or financial difficulties.

Taking Action

If you are worried a loved one is thinking about suicide, ask. Asking will not make someone consider suicide if they weren’t already. If you are feeling suicidal, reach out for help. Know suicidal thoughts are common when one is feeling overwhelmed and hopeless, and when there seems to be no way out – but also know those suicidal thoughts won’t last forever, and that help exists.

Check out our Coping with Suicidal Thoughts for more resources, information, support, and practical steps to help cope with suicidality. If you or someone you love is at immediate risk reach out to 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) for 24-hour support.

 

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