Suicidal ideation is another term for suicidal thoughts. People struggling with suicidal ideation are unusually preoccupied with thoughts of death and dying, and may actually plan their suicide. The suicidal thoughts may range from brief mental snapshots to detailed planning, although most people who have fleeting thoughts of suicide do not go on to commit suicide. In the U.S., approximately 4% of the adult population had thoughts about suicide in 2016. However, that number more than doubles among young adults aged 18-25.
Causes and Risk Factors for Suicide Ideation
While suicide ideation is often associated with a clinically diagnoses mental health disorder, those with no history of mental illness may also struggle with suicidal thoughts. In these individuals, they may be feeling hopeless and despairing about their life circumstances and can no longer cope, possibly having suffered a job loss, a divorce, or the death of a loved one. Chronic stress, relationship problems, financial problems, or ongoing abuse or trauma are also known issues that can contribute to suicidal thinking.
Risk factors for suicidal ideation and completed suicide might include:
Chronic pain or disease
Served in the military
Being gay, lesbian, transgender
Having a traumatic brain injury
History of childhood trauma or abuse
Having a substance use disorder
Having access to firearms
Having a mental health disorder
Family history of suicide
Living in rural area
Witnessing family violence
Victim of bullying
Past suicide attempts
Mental Health Disorders With Comorbid Suicide Ideation
A variety of psychiatric disorders are known to feature comorbid suicidal ideation. These include:
Major depressive disorder
Borderline personality disorder
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Autism spectrum disorders
Substance use disorders
In addition, it has been found that among young adults with mental health disorders who are on antidepressant drug therapy, a percentage of them may experience suicidal ideation as a side effect of the SSRI drug.
Warning Signs of Suicide Ideation
Someone who is experiencing recurrent thoughts of ending their life may be exhibiting certain behaviors that can act as red flags for loved ones. By recognizing the warning signs of someone with suicidal ideation, help can be provided in a timely manner. Some of the warning signs of suicidal ideation include:
Talking about death or suicide with others
Increased drug or alcohol abuse
Giving away their prized possessions
Manic mood, racing thoughts
Engaging in high-risk behaviors
Seeming hopeless or very sad
Seeming to be saying final goodbyes
Accessing the items to be used in a suicide, such as a gun, rope, drugs or medications
Treatment of Suicide Ideation
For an acute event where someone is seriously at risk of committing suicide, the individual should receive immediate intervention. Stabilization can be provided at a medical hospital, a psychiatric hospital, or a residential mental health center. For individuals who struggle with ongoing thoughts of death and suicide, the residential treatment option is appropriate.
Elevation Behavioral Health provides a tranquil, personalized setting for treating individuals with suicidal ideation. With a combination of targeted psychotherapy, group therapy, holistic activities, family support and therapy, and medication, the individual will receive an intensive and thorough comprehensive treatment regimen to help them overcome suicidal ideation.