If you are currently experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room immediately.
Suicide doesn’t just happen to one race or gender–it occurs within all races, cultures, and genders. It has been widely stigmatized and often isn’t spoken about, but the truth is that suicide is preventable, and help is available.
If you, a friend, or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts or actions, it is not too late to seek help. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and the second leading cause among 10 to 34-year-olds.
By definition, suicidal ideation means thinking about suicide or wanting to take your own life. There are two types of suicidal ideation – passive and active.
When you wish you were dead or that you could die, but do not actually have any plans to commit suicide, you are experiencing passive suicidal ideation
When you have the intent to commit suicide, in addition to thinking about it, and are planning to commit suicide, you are experiencing active suicidal ideation.
Active suicidal ideation is a symptom of major depression and the depression phase of bipolar disorder. It can also occur in people with other mental health illnesses or no mental health issues whatsoever–suicidal ideation doesn't discriminate.
For some, hopelessness can lead you to think about suicide. If life does not seem worth living anymore, suicide may seem like the only way out. But, you have other options and experienced, caring providers who can help you find other options.
Recognizing and separating your emotions from your actions can be a solid step in the right direction. You can do that by:
These will not provide instantaneous relief, and you may not feel better right away. But by helping yourself and asking for help when needed, the hopelessness will eventually lift.
The warning signs that you or a loved one are thinking about or considering suicide include:
There is a myth that you will give someone the idea to kill themselves. If you believe a loved one is thinking about or planning their suicide, ask. Asking and engaging shows that you care and are concerned about them.
Any number of things can contribute to suicidal ideation. Causes differ person-by-person, but often strike when you’re feeling lost or hopeless in your life.
For many, feeling as if your life has no purpose may be due to a crisis of some sort, financial difficulties, pressure at work, relationship issues, substance abuse, or trauma. Additionally, mental health issues like anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can cause suicidal thoughts.
Additional risk factors for suicidal ideation and suicide include:
If you suspect a loved one is dealing with suicidal thoughts or wishes, it’s important to have suicide crisis resources available and close at hand before you start the conversation. When you bring it up, mention any signs that encouraged you to speak up, any warning signs you’ve seen, and ask how they are feeling.
When asking if someone is thinking about suicide, ask directly, and in a way that gives you a “yes” or “no” answer. Asking naturally and using the word “suicide,” ensures that you and your loved one are on the same page, talking about the same thing.
Instead of asking “You aren’t thinking about killing yourself, are you,” make sure you ask “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” or “Are you thinking about committing suicide?”
It’s important to remember not to panic, and be willing to listen and allow emotional expression. Your help is a starting point, and your reassurances that they are loved and that help is available can go a long, long way.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or symptoms of depression, reach out to a mental health provider who will provide a comprehensive assessment of your needs and personalized services to help you.
If your diagnosis concludes that you have suicidal thoughts but are not in a crisis, there are several treatment options your provider may suggest. They will take your lifestyle into account to ensure that you start a treatment that is individualized for you.
Your mental health provider may determine that changes to your lifestyle will be the most impactful, long-lasting treatment. Their suggestions and guidance may include ways to better manage your stress, improve your sleep and eating habits, work on exercise (and the endorphins you get from exercising), and ensure you make time for hobbies, interests, and your support network.
Your provider will help you learn tools, tricks, and coping mechanisms, and be by your side every step of the way. You will drive your treatment and make the decisions throughout our patient-centered care and treatment.
Also called talk therapy, psychotherapy involves working with your mental health provider to delve more deeply into why you are feeling suicidal and find ways to cope.
Your formally trained therapist builds a relationship with you, and becomes your champion as you work to identify and overcome negative thoughts and behavioral patterns. The mental health providers at Rochester Regional Health use cognitive-behavioral therapy and other evidence-based treatments to treat depression and anxiety disorders and focus on addressing both the behaviors and negative thought patterns that contribute to depression.
Welcoming and involving your loved ones in your therapy allows your support system to better understand what you’re going through. Not only that, but it also helps them to understand your warning signs, what they can do to support you through a crisis, and can improve family dynamics.
Your mental health provider may recommend substance abuse treatment–for alcohol or drug use–if you are experiencing an increase in usage.
If the underlying cause of your suicidal thoughts is depression, your provider may suggest medications like antidepressants, antipsychotics, or anti-anxiety to treat. Typically, medication is used in conjunction with psychotherapy to ensure a well-rounded approach.