Suicide is a significant concern our nation is facing that affects many. According to the 2020 statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 12.2 million adults have thought about suicide. This is called suicidal ideation, when someone thinks about, considers, or plans a suicide.
Suicide is when someone directly causes their death with the intent to die. This article will discuss what causes suicidal ideation, how to recognize when people we love are considering suicide, and how to help them.
Who Is Most at Risk for Suicide?
Anyone can consider suicide at some point in their lives, but some groups of people are more vulnerable to suicidal ideation than others. These can be categorized into three types of groups.
Physical and Mental Health
People who struggle with a mental health disorder or a chronic illness are more suspectable to suicidal thoughts than those that are healthy. In particular, mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety often instill intense feelings of hopelessness in those that struggle with them. Chronic illnesses that cause noticeable degeneration in independence or cause constant pain are another major factor.
People who have also endured traumatic brain injuries may struggle with impaired thinking and chronic pain. These are a few examples, but if someone is struggling with their health, they are more likely to consider suicide as a solution to their pain.
People who live in constant states of stress are very likely to fall into suicidal ideation. Common examples of such instances are bullying, going through a divorce, losing a loved one, or facing severe financial troubles. Bullying, by far, is one of the leading causes of suicidal ideation among youth, and it can persist well into adulthood.
People who have easy access to lethal items—such as firearms or hard drugs—are also at risk. Perhaps one of the least talked about environmental factors in suicidal ideation is when someone is exposed to suicide themselves, either through the media (by portraying it as something romantic or sensationalizing it) or through the loss of a loved one.
This risk category references the history of the person themselves and their families. People of certain ethnic groups that have experienced deep generational trauma are likely to consider suicide. Those who were raised or are currently in abusive or neglectful homes are also very likely to think about suicide as a means to escape their trauma. It is also a risk factor when someone in the family has previously committed or attempted suicide.
Worrying Behaviors to Watch Out for That Can Prelude Suicide
Now that you understand who is more at risk for suicidal ideation, you can now keep an eye out for some of these particularly worrisome signs. If anyone you know or love is displaying any of these behaviors, it’s time to intervene.
Listen to How They Speak
If someone is suicidal, they may often talk very negatively about themselves. They may say things such as how they are a burden to the world. That they have no reason to live or that they feel trapped. Some might even talk about how they wish they could die or wonder if the world would be better if they were no longer in it.
A common phrase spoken by those who are suicidal is that they wish they could go to sleep and never wake up again. If their talk gets increasingly hopeless and negative, then it’s a sign that they are thinking about suicide.
Watch Their Behavior
Sometimes someone will display very worrying behaviors as a prelude to attempting suicide. Perhaps the most well-known behavior is the giving away of special and prized possessions to the people they care about. If someone loves their dog very much and suddenly asks if you’d like to have their dog, this is a warning sign.
Someone may also withdraw from people and activities they love. They may begin to heavily drink alcohol or use substances. It’s also a sign if someone calls or visits you suddenly to tell you goodbye. If you feel like they plan to leave and never come back, it’s a serious sign that they need help.
Examine Their Mood
People considering suicide can exhibit many moods that can sometimes contradict themselves. The thing you must watch out for is sudden mood changes. For example, if someone you know is struggling with depression and anxiety but suddenly begins to act as though they are relieved about something, they could be considering suicide.
A person may also act ashamed and angry and become more somber and reserved over time. If someone is displaying these sorts of moods, it’s vital to speak with them right away.
What to Do if You or Someone You Love Has Suicidal Thoughts
The first thing you should do if you or someone you love is having suicidal thoughts is to call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. This is a free number that anyone can call when they are in crisis. People can dial 988 on their phones, through a computer app, or use the chat feature. Once you call, you will be connected to a trained crisis worker who will listen to your troubles. They will stay on the line for as long as you need to and will provide you with resources to get further help.
Once someone is out of immediate danger, they will need to get professional help. Contact your local mental health treatment centers for openings available. If it is for someone you love, remind them that you love them and will always be there for them. Support and listen to them. If you need help, remember that people love and care about you. You are stronger than you think you are.
Suicide is a major problem in society today. Often, people struggle with suicidal thoughts and feel as though nobody can understand or help them. It’s especially difficult when someone you love is experiencing these feelings and thoughts, and you don’t know how to help them. At Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, our doors are always open to those in need of help and advice. We offer several types of treatments for many disorders to help people find joy in their lives again. If you or someone you love wants to heal and seek treatment for your suicidal thoughts and ideation, call us at (949) 647-4090 today. However, if in crisis, call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.