This article will discuss what are suicidal thoughts, how you can have different types of suicidal thoughts, when a person might get them and why they might surge all of the sudden. It will show how they are usually a symptom of mental health condition, but not only that, and that suicidal thoughts might be related to other causes such as experiencing a trauma.
The article will also show what are the warning signs to know if a person close to you is considering suicide and thinking of going from thought to action, and what can a person do when they start thinking about suicide.
What are suicidal thoughts?
Suicidal thoughts, also known as suicidal ideation, are an ample concept related to a person’s curiosity, contemplation, thoughts, and planning death and suicide. It can happen in many forms, it can come in a fleeting moment, or it is a persistent idea.
This phenomenon may cause a person to think that people might be better off without them, that they don’t want to be alive anymore or that they just want the suffering to stop.
Although it is hard for a family member or friend to identify with someone is having suicidal thoughts, some signs can indicate a person might be contemplating suicide, like expressing hopelessness about life and the future, intense mood swings, showing curiosity about death and dying, change in sleep patterns, increase isolation, letting go of their belongings and self-criticism.
There are some stages of suicidal thoughts, passive ones when all the person wants you to turn off from reality, so thinking they want to sleep forever or disappear. In that case, suicidal thought is a way to stop the suffering.
But in some cases, it can be thoughts about death and dying, when the person starts thinking how people would go on without them, how they would do it, and they might start planning it. That is a stage people should be careful about.
What are their causes?
Suicidal thoughts can come because of many reasons, and studies still try to establish a common line that would englobe how all people start having them.
But one thing that seems to be common is that suicidal thought can be related to the wish of ending the suffering, it might come from a mental illness the person is going through, such as major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, people with eating disorders and with post-traumatic stress.
It can also be related to some trauma a person might be experiencing, it could be the end of a relationship, financial or legal problems, the death of a close person, history of self-harm or previous suicide attempt, history of physical abuse. Along with that, people who abuse the use of alcohol can experience suicidal thoughts triggered by the abuse.
What can I do if I get sudden suicidal thoughts?
The first thing is to try to understand your feelings. Are you thinking about death in a curious, but not the active way? If that’s the case, you might want to share that thought with someone, and if you are in treatment, share it with the professional that is working with you.
Talking it out will help you understand why you are feeling what you are feeling. If any triggers caused these thoughts, how you can deal with them as they happen in the future. This can also give you a sense of control of your feelings, which can be a good thing since you might realize you won’t succumb to your thoughts.
If you don’t feel like talking it out, just reach out to friends or family members, Be with people you love and that love and support you. Depression and other mental illnesses that are related to suicidal thoughts tend to make people self-isolate, try to open themselves up to be with people.
It might not seem like it will help, but feeling the love and support of others might make those suicidal thoughts feel less urgent and desperate. It might be good to distract yourself from that, at least if for a little while
Another thing that might help is looking for other distractions, finding something else to focus on, like a tv show will help while you wait for the thoughts to go away. Some people might consider suicide because they think others would be better without them.
When that happens to you, it could be a good thing to question those thoughts. Try to think that your family and friends would be better without you if you can think that over, you might realize that is not really like that.
If that is not the case, and you are in a crisis and experiencing suicidal thoughts more actively, meaning you start thinking about how to do it, and plan the events, the first thing you might want to do is get in touch with someone you know and trust.
At that time, you can get in touch with a therapist, a friend, a family member, or even contact one of those suicidal helplines. The goal here is to be in touch with someone that will help you calm yourself.
When we are dealing with a crisis, it won’t be the moment to understand what happened or what triggered it, when you get out of the crisis, you can talk about it with your therapist and understand better what happened. But at this moment you need to be with someone that will give you support and orientation on what to do.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Why do I get sudden suicidal thoughts?
How can I help my friend that is having suicidal thoughts?
When a person has a friend contemplating suicide it can be an intense situation. First, it is important to figure out if they are just thinking about it or planning. But if you have a friend that is going through that, there are a few things that can be done.
Ask how openly about it
Since suicide has such a great social stigma, asking your friend openly if they are thinking about suicide can give them a sense of relief that they have someone to talk about it with.
Other questions that might be good to do is to ask how they are feeling, and how you can help them. That’s a way to show them you care and are genuinely interested in how they are feeling.
Being present means being present physically and emotionally. You can spend some time talking to them, calling, and showing support. This might help them feel like they are not alone, that they are connected and part of something and someone’s life.
In thinking of always having someone close to them, create a support network since, in the long run, it will be hard for you to be available all the time. You can talk to other friends or family members and you can come up with a plan to keep in touch with them.
Try to keep them safe
Once you know if they are considering suicide and you made yourself present, it is good to know how far they have thought that plan through, if they had any ideas of putting it into action or if it was still mostly an idea.
If they already have a concrete plan, it might be time to alert other people close to them, like family members, the professional that is following up with them and try to avoid leaving them alone and pay attention to what they might be doing.
Take care of yourself
As you are offering your friend all of that support, try to take some time to take care of yourself. It can be an intense process, offering that support. It will have its ups and downs, you might be constantly worried, so it is important to find time to rest and some ways you can take care of your mental health.
Do people get suicidal thoughts from frustration?
Depending on fragile emotionally a person is, frustration can lead to suicidal thoughts. It is important to understand here that is not the frustrating situation in itself that will cause a person to suicide, this frustration might just be the last straw in a line of suffering.
Still, it is important to notice if someone close to you is suffering from depression or other mental illness and it seems like they are giving up.
Is it easier to think of suicide if it happened to someone close to you?
Yes, according to research, if a person went through the suicide of someone close, the meaning of a person was exposed to it, it increases their chance to think about suicide and do it when in comparison to a person that has never gone through it.
It seems that once you go through someone’s suicide, thinking of killing yourself becomes a possibility, it is as if you open this window, and if at a time the person sees themselves without possibilities, suicide might be one of them
What are suicide hotlines?
Suicide hotlines, helplines, and crisis lines are phone numbers a person can call when intrusive feelings come over. They usually work 24 hours a day, every day, totally free and confidential.
Once a person is in need, they can call one of those hotlines, and a trained volunteer will answer and try to give you the support you need. You can find many helplines across the internet.
In what age groups is having suicide thoughts more common?
According to American data, suicide has been increasing in most age groups. Suicide is the most common in ages between 10 and 55 years old, being that in the group between 10 and 34 years old suicide is the second cause of death.
In the group of people aged 35 to 44, suicide is the fourth cause of death. In the age group between 45 to 55, suicide is the fifth reason for death.
In this article, it was discussed what is suicide ideation and what can cause a person to develop it, it’s causes, that are not always related to mental illness, although that is also a reason.
Aside from that, the article explained how to understand the signs of a person having suicidal thoughts, and to understand the difference between thinking and planning, why a person might get those suicidal feelings all of the sudden, and how people close to them can help.
If you have any comments or questions about this article, feel free to write it in the section below.
Harmer B, Lee S, Duong TVH, Saadabadi A. Suicidal Ideation. 2021 Aug 6. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan–. PMID: 33351