According to Christian Nordqvist from Medical News Today, the term suicidal ideation or suicidal thoughts refers to having frequent thoughts about suicide or about planning one. These types of thoughts may range from a detailed plan to an occasional consideration, which often does not include the final suicide act.

Believe it or not, suicidal thoughts are very common and a lot of individuals have then when they are under a lot of stress or are suffering from depression. As pointed out on Medical News Today, these thoughts are short-term and can be easily treated; however, there are situations when they elevate one’s risk of trying or completing suicide. It is important to mention that most of those who experience suicidal thoughts do not go through with the act, even though they may attempt to.

As seen on Very Well Mind, despite the occurrence of suicidal ideation being low among the general population, i.e. somewhere around 9 percent, the rate among individuals suffering from mental disorders is rather high, or more precisely, 77 percent of people diagnosed with bipolar or depressive disorder experience suicidal thoughts.

With this in mind, the focus of this article is to present the major characteristics of this condition and to show effective methods for its prevention.

The Major Signs of Suicidal Thoughts

As seen on Medical News Today, the major symptoms in people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts are the following ones:

  • Strong remorse and self criticism
  • Frequently talking about dying or suicide and regretting being alive
  • Feeling trapped or hopeless
  • High level of emotional ache
  • Inability to enjoy pleasurable emotions from pleasurable events like exercise, eating, sexual intercourse
  • Depressive emotions, panic attacks, poor concentration
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Feeling as if you are a burden to other people
  • Changes in routines, sleeping patterns, and personality traits
  • Increasing the intake of alcohol and drugs
  • Abnormal preoccupation with death or violence
  • Common mood swings
  • Getting affairs in order
  • Psychomotor agitation like pacing around a room
  • Saying goodbye to people as if it were the last time

Why Does Suicidal Ideation Happen?

As pointed out on Medical News Today, suicidal thoughts may appear in individuals who do not have the coping mechanisms to address an overwhelming situation. This could be a result of a death of a loved one, financial struggles, relationship problems, or a debilitating disease. This being said, life events that have the highest chance of leading one to experience suicidal ideation are sexual abuse, remorse, rejection, unemployment, and grief.

The below-mentioned risk factors may influence one’s possibility of being faced with suicidal ideation:

  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling lonely
  • Having problems with the law
  • Being under the influence of drugs and alcohol
  • Family history of mental health problems
  • Family history of substance abuse
  • Family history of violence
  • Family history of suicide
  • Being gay without any support
  • Being a child with social, school, or disciplinary issues
  • Dependency on substances
  • Suffering from some mental diseases
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Gun possession
  • Lack of sleep

Moreover, as seen on Medical News Today, some medical conditions are also known risk factors for suicidal ideation. Let us check them out below:

  • Panic disorder
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Adjustment disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Gender identity disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • PTSD
  • Schizophrenia
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder

Can Suicidal Ideation Be Prevented?

As emphasized on Very Well Mind and according to the FDA, suicide is the third major cause of death in individuals aged 15 to 24 and 20 percent of all suicides happen in people who belong to this age group. This being said, it is of crucial importance to learn some beneficial tips on how to lower the occurrence of suicidal ideation and save yours and other people’s lives.

  1. Learn how to put yourself first

Taking proper care of yourself means following as healthier diet as possible, not skipping meals, and getting sufficient hours of sleep, rest, and relaxation in order to reduce stress and help the body recuperate. Also, remember to introduce regular physical activity and exercising to your daily routine because they have the capacity to alleviate negative stress and better your emotional well-being, as suggested on Very Well Mind.

  1. Find the most suitable ways for you to lower stress

Challenging self-defeating thoughts can ease the overcoming of suicidal thoughts. Research possible and most useful methods for relaxation and practice the one which suits you the most. Some known stress-reducing methods are exercise, meditation, and breathing exercises.

  1. Work on your personal and professional interests

In order to surpass the suicidal thinking, one needs to release old (and bad) habits and introduce newer and more beneficial ones. It is of great use to develop your professional and personal interests such as volunteering or doing a job that fulfils you. By doing things that you find amusing and satisfying, you will feel much better about yourself and thus, minimize the recurrence of the feelings of desperation.

  1. Create your support community

To prevent or decrease suicidal thoughts, surround yourself with people who positively influence your life and make you feel good about yourself; nonetheless, remember to give back to the community because helping out others it is an excellent way to make your life more meaningless.

  1. Ask, listen, and follow up

According to Medical News Today, when it comes to your loved ones, you can protect them from suicidal ideation by asking them whether they are thinking about suicide (studies show that this does not increase the risk), listen to what they have to say and make sure you are there to follow up with them after a crisis and encourage them to look for adequate support when they look like they need it.

  1. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that enables 24/7 free (7 days per week) and confidential emotional support for distressed individuals in a suicidal crisis. Remember, one does not need to be a mental health professional to help a person in your life who is struggling. Check out their website to learn more.