Suicidal sister (5 ways to cope)

In this article, we will be discussing how to deal with a sibling who has suicidal ideations and made attempts for the same. We will be examining the various coping strategies available to help them overcome their suicidal tendencies, with the support of loved ones and treatment, if necessary.

Finally, we will also be answering certain questions related to suicidal ideations and the different kinds of treatment plans that are suitable for alleviating suicidal ideations in an individual. 

Suicidal sister

Understanding the presence of suicidal ideations in your sibling that could be a sister or brother, can be an extremely difficult and tiresome process, owing to the complex family dynamics and the erratic behavioral patterns of your sibling. However, identifying and understanding the common signs, when expressed, by your sibling can be supportive and helpful for them. 

If you share a unique relationship with your sister, you can communicate with her openly, and try to help her identify the triggers and seek professional treatment for getting rid of suicidal ideations and related thoughts. 

Identifying the signs 

Identifying suicidal signs in your sibling is not an easy process. It depends on the closeness of your relationship, the style of communication between you both, and physical proximity. Although there are certain warning signs that can be looked out for identifying the presence of danger. They are as follows:

  • Changes in behavior include withdrawal from social situations, changes in personal interactions, and a general loss of interest in activities. 
  • Direct or indirect verbal expressions that include statements of death wishes, and other strange and overly dramatic expressions.
  • Any form of self-harm that includes substance abuse of drugs and alcohol, self-mutilation, or drastic weight changes. 
  • Previously made suicide attempts which indicates that the person is in real pain and agony.
  • Proceeding to make final arrangements is a clear sign of serious suicidal ideations. 

Ways to support your suicidal sister

  • Enquire if you can sit and talk with them. Notice their tone of voice, body language, and gently ask them what is bothering them. Show that you genuinely care
  • Give your full attention while they are opening up to you. Be prepared to listen to them and pay attention to the words used and underlying emotions. This sort of attention means a lot to them.
  • Maintain patience in abundance. Your sister might not open up right away or show interest in even being with you. However, d not get offended. Understand their mental situation and stay committed to offering help when they ask for it. 
  • Never judge, criticize, or express anger. Never tell them that they are being foolish or letting others down. Do not be rash or sarcastic in your tone of voice or expressions. Be kind, empathetic, and try to see things from their perspective as they speak. 
  • Mention the idea of therapy to them. However, do not force them at the same time. You could suggest the idea of therapy. Its benefits, and also educate yourself and your sister about the various kinds of potential treatment techniques and plans. 


In this article, we discussed how to deal with a suicidal sister, identifying warning signs, and different ways to provide your support to help them get through the difficult phase. 

FAQs: suicidal sister

What is suicidal ideation in psychology?

Suicidal ideations refer to having persistent thoughts of committing suicide, without specific plans for the same, and even trying to implement it at some point in the future. Most people with suicidal ideations do not attempt suicide, although it is a huge risk factor. Having suicidal ideation is a deadly serious matter and holds potential danger on its own. Hence, it requires immediate attention. 

Suicidal ideations are caused by sudden or unexpected negative changes in one’s life circumstances. It leads to a mental imbalance in the individual and disables him/her from taking control of their emotions.  Suicidal ideations can also occur as a consequence of any form of mental illness such as bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, and any form of abuse including mental, physical, emotional, or psychological.  Anxiety disorders are also capable of producing suicidal thoughts.

The most evident and glaring symptom of suicidal ideation is possessing thoughts of killing oneself. Other potential symptoms are unusual and bizarre behavior patterns, zoning out, or any other form of mental illness. The other warning signs of suicidal ideations include talking constantly about suicide, obtaining resources for committing suicide, social withdrawal, severe fatigue or loss of energy, preoccupation with death and dying, deeming oneself to be a burden to others, writing suicidal notes, and a drastic change in normal eating and sleeping routine. 

Does cognitive-behavioral therapy work for suicidal thoughts?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been found to be a useful strategy in the prevention of suicidal cognitions and suicidal behaviors. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been proved to be effective for reducing the symptoms of various kinds of mental disorders that are directly associated with an increased risk of suicide such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis. 

However, the treatments were found to be more effective for those patients who developed suicidal cognitions and behaviors independently rather than as a consequence of mental illness. This indicates that psychotherapy is more effective when it places focus on the elimination of suicidal cognitions and thoughts at the root. 

Which psychiatric disorders can result in suicidal ideations and gestures?

The following psychiatric disorders are associated with suicidal ideations and gestures:

Any form of anxiety disorder
Bipolar affective disorder
Bulimia nervosa
Dysthymic disorder
Cocaine-associated psychiatric disorders

All these disorders mentioned in the list lead to the development of suicidal-provoking thoughts and tendencies. This happens when the affected individual is suffering from the above given mental disorders at an extreme level and cannot cope up with it. 

What are the four steps of cognitive restructuring?

There are several steps involved in the process of cognitive restructuring. The primary ones are as given below:

Step 1: bring yourself into a calm and composed state. When you find yourself upset, stressed, or anxious about the thoughts you are planning to explore and understand, it creates a blockage and you will find it hard to concentrate on the tool at hand. 
Step 2: the next most important step is to identify the target situation. Be aware and focused while in the process of identifying and trying to understand what exactly about the situation is anxiety-provoking and inhibiting you from moving forward. 
Step 3: analyze the mood. The general mood matters and must be stable and neutral for the treatment to go forward without interruptions. Make sure you’re not in an irritable or imbalanced mood. 
Step 4: make not of automatic thoughts. This is the next step. Once you are calm, composed, and grounded try to bring the automatic negative thoughts into your awareness and how are they affecting your thought process. These automatic negative thoughts comprise the core issues that further leads to more serious disorders. 
Step 5: find objective support and evidence to prove your thoughts right. This will help you to gain clarity about the genuineness and value of your automatic negative thoughts. Once you find that there is no valid evidence to support the authenticity of your automatic thoughts, you can directly get to the step of identifying what is causing you to let these thoughts dominate your cognitive processes. 

Can you use cognitive behavioral therapy on yourself?

Yes. it is possible to use cognitive behavioral therapy on yourself as many studies have found it to be effective for treating anxiety and depression. The simple and intensive processes involved in cognitive behavioral therapy bring changes to the way we act and behave and have a profound impact on our general well-being. Additionally, self-directed therapy has been discovered to be very effective for affected individuals who usually suffer from depression and anxiety. 

It helps in reducing anxiety and depression using cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. Generally, self-directed therapy is suited best for those who are diagnosed with mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety or depression. Those with severe symptoms will need to have one on one therapy with the help of a professional. Several studies have also proved that this type of treatment tends to maintain the progress really well, over time, which is encouraging and helpful. 

Is exposure therapy part of cognitive-behavioral therapy?

Exposure therapy is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that is used to reduce anxiety and associated responses. In exposure therapy, an individual is gradually exposed to a fearful stimulus and the exposure intensity is increased over time. Eventually, he/she becomes less sensitive to exposure to the stimuli. This type of therapy has been found to be effective for many types of disorders including obsessive-compulsive disorder, different kinds of phobias, and anxiety disorders. 


What to Do When Your Brother or Sister is Suicidal: How to Support a Sibling in Crisis

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