When you’re having suicidal thoughts, they may feel impossible to escape. When they do begin to dissipate, you may feel as though they’re impossible to prevent from happening again. However, there are evidence-based techniques to help both manage and prevent suicidal thoughts.
Suicidal thoughts, also called suicidal ideation, can come in more than one form. It can be active thoughts where individuals have specific thoughts about suicide and active plans to take their own lives.
However, they can also come in passive suicidal thoughts with less defined plans. While there may not be a specific plan in place, an individual with passive suicidal thoughts may:
Whether suicidal thoughts are active or passive, persistent thoughts about death leave individuals hopeless and unsure where to go for help.
If you or a loved one has suicidal thoughts, you’re not alone. According to the CDC, 12 million American adults thought about suicide in 2019 (the latest data available), with 3.5 million planned suicide attempts and 1.4 million attempted suicides.1
Suicidal feelings affect all different age groups, professions, and genders. It’s the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10-34, the fourth leading cause of death among people between 35-44, and the fifth leading cause of death between 45-54.
Many people worry that asking a loved one who’s concerned if they have suicidal feelings may put the idea in their head. However, research shows that asking about suicidal thoughts won’t increase the likelihood of thoughts. It could even do the opposite: asking shows that you’re supportive and that someone else cares about their wellbeing.2
Common suicidal thoughts signs that someone may be thinking about death include:
There are several causes for suicidal thoughts. These thoughts may be the result of life circumstances, genetics, hormones (such as postpartum), or substance use.
They can also be a symptom of a mental health condition, such as major depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and PTSD.
While anyone can be at risk for suicidal ideation, certain risk factors may cause suicidal thoughts:
Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you’re unsure where to turn, a crisis counselor is an excellent place to start. They can listen without judgment and offer practical guidance on how you can reach out.
Do a short exercise, go on a walk, try box breathing or 4-7-8 breathing, or other grounding techniques that can help you stay present in the moment instead of being overwhelmed in your thoughts.
Also, try to find an activity that helps you keep your mind off your suicidal thoughts. Listen to music, eat your favorite meal, look at photos, or watch videos of animals and people you love. These will all help you feel calmer in the moment.
It’s critical to stay away from any possible methods of suicide, such as weapons or mediation. Have a loved one help you remove these items and stay with you.
Your feelings can be overwhelming, but it’s critical to act despite your feelings.
For example, people who are depressed often isolate themselves and don’t want to have contact with anyone. Instead, reach out to a friend or loved one despite your feelings.
Although speaking with a doctor is a critical first step, it’s not enough. Ask your doctors for referrals or contact a specialist here at Blueprints Recovery to get treatment for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. A mental health specialist, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, has the training and expertise to treat suicidal thoughts specifically.
The concept of “self-care” has been hijacked by social media and brings images of bubble baths and face masks. However, self-care isn’t so much about luxury but instead taking care of yourself in a way that will have you feeling better.
For example, making yourself a (simple) healthy meal, getting in some light movement, taking your medication, and going to bed slightly earlier are all necessary acts of self-care.
Stick to a regular routine as much as you can. A routine can provide you the structure and control even if your feelings or life seem out of control.
The key to keeping a routine is to start with one part of your life and expand from there. Start with small steps. For example, before setting up a regular waking up time, begin by setting a time that you shut down all devices to make going to sleep easier.
Some things that you might want to create a routine for include:
Research shows that safety planning can help individuals stay safe in an acute crisis. Your safety plan should include a list of known triggers and early signs of suicidal ideation. Also, list coping tips that work for you and contact information of professionals and loved ones you can turn to for support.
Until you do the work to identify and address the concerns leading to suicidal ideation, they’ll likely return. However, you don’t have to go through the process alone. A trained mental health professional can provide powerful counseling for suicidal thoughts to help you get lasting relief. Suicidal thoughts therapy will help you overcome the triggers and thoughts to improve your life.
Therapy for suicidal thoughts can help you:
Helpful therapy for suicidal thoughts includes cognitive-behavioral therapy or dialectical behavior therapy.
There is no one best medication for suicidal thoughts. However, if you have other underlying mental health conditions, such as depression, antidepressants can help.
In isolated cases, some antidepressants increase the risk of suicidal ideation, especially when first taking them. If you have sudden thoughts of suicide, call your prescribing clinician right away and keep taking the medication. Stopping suddenly can make unwanted thoughts worse.
Our therapists at The PAC Program can help. Their experience and expertise can help you in overcoming suicidal thoughts. Overcoming suicidal thoughts is possible but requires professional help. We can assist you in your journey to wholeness, so contact us today.
If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
623-523-4748 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.