Suicide is not a mental illness but rather a serious and potential consequence of untreated mental disorders like depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, substance use disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders. Suicide can have devastating effects on a family and community. Fortunately, this type of heartbreaking situation can be prevented when it is addressed early. Keep reading for common warning signs of suicidal ideation and how our Boca treatment center can help.
What Is Suicidal Ideation?
Often referred to as suicidal thoughts or ideas, suicidal ideation is a broad term used to describe a range of contemplations, wishes, and preoccupations with death and suicide. Suicidal ideations often occur in a “waxing and waning manner,” meaning the magnitude and characteristics of it fluctuate greatly.
Suicidal ideation varies in intensity, frequency, duration, and character. Despite how suicidal behavior is portrayed in the media, there is no typical suicide victim, and there are no typical suicidal thoughts or ideations.
Unfortunately, the risk factors and warning signs of suicidal ideation are often documented in healthcare records as a yes or no fashion, although it may encompass everything from fleeting wishes of falling asleep and never waking up to intensely disturbing preoccupations with self-extinction paired with delusions.
To ensure that a person who is struggling with suicidal ideation gets the help they need, thoroughly assessing and monitoring the pattern, intensity, nature, and impact of suicidal ideation and documenting them accordingly is necessary for all healthcare providers. Additionally, it is equally as important for family members to understand the physical, behavioral, and even verbal signs of suicide and suicidal ideation to prevent it from happening.
Signs and Symptoms of Suicidal Ideation
According to research, suicidal ideation is a symptom of another primary psychiatric disorder in adults, and 90% of people who end their lives by suicide meet the diagnostic criteria for one or more mental health disorders.1 With this in mind, it is safe to assume that many suicidal ideation signs and symptoms include those of other mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
Below are common warning signs of suicidal ideation to look out for:
- Long-lasting periods of sadness and mood swings
- Sudden calmness following a period of depression or moodiness
- Changes in personality, appearance, and sleep pattern
- Poor personal hygiene
- Withdrawing from others
- Engaging in dangerous and self-harmful behavior, such as drunk driving, self-harm, and substance abuse
- Being in a state of hopelessness or despair
- Frequently talk about feeling hopeless, feeling empty, having no reason to live, being a burden to others, feeling trapped, or being in severe emotional pain
- Preparing, such as visiting friends and family, giving away personal possessions, making a will, or cleaning their home
- Talking about wanting to die
If your friend or a loved one is not in immediate danger but is talking about suicide and showing warning signs of suicide ideation, take them seriously. If you can, remove any objects from the home that can be used in a suicide attempt. Also, encourage them to call – or call together – support services, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-(TALK) (1-800-273-8255).
If the individual struggles with a mental health disorder, our Florida mental health rehab offers Boca Raton depression treatment and more that can help. We treat various disorders and offer aftercare services that include consistent check-ups after treatment.
Suicidal Risk Factors
In addition to warning signs of suicidal ideation, there are also certain risk factors of suicide to keep in mind:
- History of suicide attempts
- Family history of suicide and mental illness
- Mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, or bipolar disorder
- Chronic pain or terminal illness
- Expresses feelings of hopelessness or emptiness
- Experiences a mental health crisis
- Has money or financial problems
- Violent or impulsive behavior
- Substance abuse
- Each access to self-harm methods, such as firearms or medications
- History of abuse
- Exposure to trauma
- Loss of a loved one
- Break up or divorce
- Socially isolated
- Lacks support from friends or loved ones
- Is ashamed to ask for help
- Lacks access to health care, especially addiction or mental health care
- Holds cultural or religious beliefs that suicide is a noble way to resolve a personal dilemma
- Has become aware of an increase in suicide rates and an increase in media coverage of suicides
As scary as this is, suicide is preventable. Learn the risk factors, be alert to the signs of mental illness, recognize suicidal warning signs, and ask directly if the person is hurting. The best thing you can do is be there for that person and give them your support.
If you or a loved one is battling a mental illness or contemplating suicide, do not wait to get help. Suicidal ideation and the act itself are more likely to occur in individuals with mental illness, especially in cases when the person does not get professional help.
- NIH - Suicidal Ideation