What are suicidal thoughts?

What are suicidal thoughts?

Suicidal thoughts or ideation involves thinking of or planning suicide. Ideas can vary by a detailed plan to a short-lived thought. This doesn’t entail the act of killing one’s self.

Suicidal thoughts are actually pretty common, and a large portion of the population experiences them. These thoughts usually surface around times of stress, depression or anxiety. In many cases, these thoughts are temporary and treatable if they are recurring.

People who encounter suicidal ideation tend not to act on it, though some may attempt suicide.

Individuals who have suicidal thoughts must ask for help. In the event a friend or family member is suffering from these thoughts, preventative measures must always be taken to support and protect them.

Quick facts about Suicidal thoughts

  • TheĀ National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK(8255). They are available 24/7.
  • The majority of people who experience suicidal ideations do not carry them out.
  • Suicidal thoughts can be caused by many things, some of them include mental health, anxiety, depression, hormonal imbalance, and substance abuse.
  • Individuals with a family history of mental illness are at higher risk.


People who may be experiencing or are at risk of experiencing suicidal thoughts may show the following signs and symptoms:

  • the feeling of intense emotional pain
  • mood swings
  • having an abnormal obsession with death, dying or, violence
  • acting agitated or in a state of constant anxiety
  • changes in personality, sleeping patterns, or daily routines
  • drug use or consuming more alcohol than usual
  • risky behavior: driving carelessly or taking and mixing drugs
  • giving things away
  • buying or getting access to a gun or prescription medications
  • depression, panic attacks, lack of concentration/disassociating
  • believing they’re a bother to others
  • saying goodbye like it’s the last time
  • inability to experience pleasurable emotions in basic life events like exercise, eating, or sex
  • talking about remorse and self-criticism
  • obsession with suicide or dying
  • feeling hopeless and trapped

A large number of people with suicidal thoughts and ideation will attempt to keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves and many times show no signs of anything wrong.


Suicidal ideation normally occurs when someone is feeling like they can no longer cope with a situation or feelings. This can originate from anywhere, including financial problems, death of a loved one, relationships or an illness.

These are the common risk factors and situations that a person may experience suicidal ideation during:

  • a family history of mental health issues
  • a family history of substance abuse
  • a family history of violence
  • a family history of suicide
  • a psychiatric disorder or mental illness
  • feelings of seclusion or loneliness
  • being gay with no family support
  • history of and issues with substance abuse
  • for children: having disciplinary, social or school problems
  • being prone to reckless or impulsive behavior
  • being around or associated with someone who has committed suicide

Many mental health conditions can contribute to a higher risk of suicidal ideation, these include:

  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • borderline personality disorder
  • anorexia nervosa
  • panic disorder
  • generalized anxiety disorder
  • social anxiety disorder
  • schizophrenia
  • dissociative identity disorder
  • body dysmorphic disorder
  • bipolar disorder
  • exposure to suicidal ideation in others


Prevention is the goal when dealing with suicidal ideation. It is what loved ones regret when the act is carried out. The truth is, if the person hides their feelings well, it is very difficult to notice.

The National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) has suggested the following tips for helping anyone going through a crisis:

  • Ask them – if the person is thinking about suicide as studies have shown asking does not increase risk.
  • Keeping them safe – by keeping them company and removing possible avenues of committing suicide, like knives.
  • Listening – being there for them and listening to what they have to say.
  • Encouraging – let them know to call a helpline or contact someone the person might turn to for support, family member, a friend, or spiritual mentor.
  • Following up – talk with the person after the crisis has passed, as studies have concluded that this can reduce the risk of a recurrence.

Suicide prevention

If you may know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting any other person, please:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number.
  • Remain with the individual until professional help gets there.
  • Get rid of any weapons, medications, or other possibly dangerous objects.
  • Listen to the person with no judgment.
  • If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.


Suicide ideation is usually a sign of a mental health issue, which includes depression or bipolar disorder.

A number of mental health issues, such as depression, are usually efficiently treated or maintained with prescriptions and talking therapies, for example, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or counseling.

It’s crucial to seek help if you or someone close is suffering from mental health issues.

Once treatment begins, it is vital to keep to the treatment plan, going to follow-up visits, taking prescriptions as advised, and so forth.

Reducing risk

Listed below are steps to help, as well as lower the risk of suicidal attempts and ideation:

  • eating a well-balanced, healthful diet focused around the microbiome health
  • taking a good probiotic
  • getting around 7-8 hours of consistent sleep every night
  • Exercising
  • preventing social isolation
  • doing things that give you happiness, such as being with friends or family
  • finding treatment and following the protocols
  • attending support groups where you can discuss your feelings to individuals that are or have gone through similar situations

Don’t forget that lots of people come across suicidal thoughts at some point, and the majority of them find a resolution, for instance, discussing their difficulty with someone.

This doesn’t imply there’s anything wrong with you. Even though you may feel alone in a place and worried to discuss what you’re going through, a private hotline could help.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Available for a confidential chat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Toll-free: 1-800-273-TALK(8255).

Befrienders Worldwide: Contact numbers and support information are available on their website for a wide range of countries and languages.

Childhelp: National Child Abuse Hotline for the United States Call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). All calls are anonymous and confidential.

Veterans crisis hotline: Confidential support for veterans or those who are concerned about a veteran. Call: 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 or text 838255.