Common warning signs of suicidal ideation


According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, an American dies due to committing suicide every 12.95 minutes. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States (AFSP, 2015). There are many reasons why a person might feel suicidal with factors ranging from drug abuse to mental health disorders and it’s not an uncommon occurrence. Those with mental health disorders are more likely to actually commit suicide than those without mental health disorders (Peterson, 2014). Whatever the circumstances, treatment should be sought out if verbal or behavioral warning signs of suicide present themselves. Suicidal ideation or thoughts of suicide, can range from simply considering the idea to a detailing exact plans of the act.

Suicidal warning signs

Family and friends should be on the look out for both behavioral warning signs and verbal warning signs if they are worried a loved one is suicidal. Verbal warning signs can be as direct as saying “I’m going to kill myself” or “I have no reason to live” or they can be more subtle such as saying “I’m a burden to others” or “I feel trapped.” Other behavioral warning signs of suicidal ideation can include:

  • Reckless behavior (driving, dressing, talking)
  • Spending excessive amounts of time alone
  • Insomnia
  • Giving things away
  • Aggression
  • Frustration
  • Overindulging in substances such as cigarettes or drugs and alcohol
  • Romanticizing death

Typical suicide ideation triggers

The most common factors in suicidal thoughts or actions are the following: mental health disorders, bereavement and environmental factors such as work or home issues. Environmental factors and relationships with other people are truly the most powerful forces in a person’s life, and can often times lead to struggles with emotions. People who cannot cope with certain emotions and lack the skills to find the help they need may be more prone to committing suicide if they are struggling at home, work or in relationships (Mayo Clinic, 2015).

  • Mental health disorders

If an individual is struggling with a mental health disorder they may end up considering suicide. Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety or schizophrenia can seriously interfere with someone’s life and take its toll on them. For those unable to get treatment through medication or therapy suicide may end up seeming like a viable option to escape the suffering caused by a mental health issue. Of those who had died by suicide at least 90 percent had been diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

  • PTSD and child-abuse

Various mental health issues can come about as the result of inappropriate or abusive parenting. Studies show that there have been significant indications of depression, addiction and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among adults that were mistreated, or neglected in childhood. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, studies using brain scans can exhibit the effects of child abuse. Researchers found “specific changes in key regions in and around the hippocampus” in the brains of young adults who were maltreated or neglected in childhood; about 25 percent of participants had suffered major depression at some point in their lives and seven percent had been diagnosed with PTSD. Among the 16 percent of participants who had suffered three or more types of child maltreatment — for example, physical abuse, neglect and verbal abuse — the situation was much worse. Most of them — 53 percent — had suffered depression and 40 percent had full or partial PTSD” (Teicher, Anderson, Polcari, 2010). Issues such as depression or PTSD can seriously increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or actions.

  • Workplace conditions

“Mobbing,” is a trendy phrase being used nowadays to describe group workplace harassment. This form of harassment is becoming increasingly common and can have dire effects on the victim’s mental health. Many people who have suffered from workplace harassment or mobbing have been diagnosed with PTSD or Adjustment Disorder (AD). Some have become suicidal (Signorelli, 2013).

  • Bereavement or traumatic grief

Bereavement or traumatic grief can incite very painful and debilitating emotions. Traumatic grief refers to a syndrome in which a person experiences functional impairment, a decline in physical health and suicidal ideation (Prigerson, 1999). Exposure to the suicide of a loved one can not only cause psychological damage, it can also trigger suicidal ideation due to any mental health disorders that the exposure may have caused, such as PTSD or depression.

Finding help

If you or a loved one is experiencing any kind of suicidal thoughts, help is available. Whatever the circumstances, it is never wise to ignore suicidal ideation. Treatment through medication and or therapy can help individuals overcome suicidal thoughts though what treatment type is best will depend on the individual.Call us today at 855-653-8178 to get the help that you or your loved one needs.

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