Thoughts of suicide can strike suddenly or build up over time. Those who have them often feel alienated, left without any other choices, or completely alone. However, none of those feelings are true. In fact, people who experience suicidal thoughts are far from alone in their struggles.

In 2020, suicide was responsible for nearly 46,000 deaths, placing it in the top nine leading causes of death for people ages 10–64. That means more than five people died to suicide every hour.

But even those figures can’t compare to the number of individuals who had thoughts of suicide in 2020. More than 12 million people seriously considered ending their own lives.

Therefore, it is more important than ever to make mental health care and resources more accessible for people across the country. To decrease the number of suicide deaths as well as those with intense thoughts of suicide, treatment needs to become easier to understand and access.

Types of Suicidal Ideations

Types of Suicidal Ideations

Not all thoughts of suicide manifest in the same way. Suicidal ideations can appear in many forms, all of which deserve the same level of proactive attention. Most thoughts fit into one of two categories: active and passive.

Active Thoughts of Suicide

Someone with active thoughts of suicide not only thinks about death, but has developed a plan to end their life. If asked, they could explain how they would go about committing suicide. Moreover, they may have a genuine intention to do so.

Active suicidal ideation is not always obvious, but many individuals engage in activities that can serve as warning signs. Behaviors that may indicate active thoughts of suicide include giving away possessions, saying goodbye to friends and family, and organizing for the care of pets or other dependents.

Passive Thoughts of Suicide

On the other hand, passive thoughts of suicide are less detailed. Someone with passive suicidal ideations does not have a plan for how they would end their life. In addition, passive thoughts may not be as direct or obvious as active thoughts.

For example, if someone thinks something like, “I wish I could sleep forever,” they may be having passive thoughts of suicide. Likewise, a vague desire to stop existing, get lost forever, or for the world to end can indicate passive suicidal ideations. Someone may also demonstrate a lack of caring toward their safety, such as by crossing the street without checking for cars.

5 Steps to Stop Thoughts of Suicide

Many people feel overwhelmed, anxious, or panicked when they have thoughts of suicide. Others may feel more apathetic toward their thoughts and not know how to deal with such numbness. In either case, there are certain measures you can take to move past suicidal ideations in a quick, healthy manner.

1. Assess Your Risk of Suicide

Some people are at a higher risk of having thoughts of suicide than others. Namely, individuals with other mental health conditions, like depression, are more likely to think about or attempt suicide. Similarly, certain population groups show higher rates of suicide than others.

At-risk groups include:

  • Veterans
  • Seniors
  • Teenagers and young adults
  • LGBTQ+ populations
  • Previous suicide attempt survivors

Understand that if you have another mental health condition or fall under one of the population groups listed above, you are more likely to experience thoughts of suicide. However, it is also important to remember that anyone can have suicidal thoughts, particularly if they have recently experienced some type of hardship.

2. Develop a Suicide Safety Plan

One of the best ways to combat thoughts of suicide involves having a predetermined suicide safety plan in place. There is no right or wrong way to make a safety plan. You can decide what level of structure and intensity you think would benefit you most during moments of crisis.

That said, most suicide safety plans consist of four main parts:

  • Know the warning signs. Some people can identify certain changes in thoughts, behaviors, and feelings as indicative of an impending crisis. For example, you may notice you are starting to isolate and withdraw from friends and family.
  • Find coping strategies. Everyone copes differently. Some benefit from relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises, while others prefer to find engaging activities to distract themselves. Discover and make a note of which strategies work for you.
  • Identify your support network. Determine who you could reach out to when you have thoughts of suicide. Let them know how you would inform them, and work together to decide what actions they would take to help you.
  • Organize professional resources. Make a list of local crisis centers you could contact when you need assistance. Also note the phone numbers of national suicide hotlines to ensure you can always find professional help.

3. Stay Away from Alcohol and Drugs

Stay Away from Alcohol and Drugs

Some individuals try to drink to forget their problems, which can include attempting to bury thoughts of suicide. However, using drugs or alcohol can actually cause suicidal thoughts to worsen. Substances often inhibit cognitive functions and impair judgment abilities. This can result in someone making impulsive, dangerous decisions.

In addition, if someone regularly uses substances to cope with mental illness, they may develop an addiction. Unfortunately, substance use disorders often complicate treatment plans. They must be treated in tandem with other mental health conditions to avoid a resurgence of symptoms.

4. Tell Someone About Your Thoughts of Suicide

If you feel suicidal, it is crucial to tell someone who can support you through a vulnerable time. You can confide in a trusted friend or family member, who can distract you and reaffirm your worth while you wait for professional help.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking with any friends or family members, you can also call or text 988 to reach the Suicide Crisis Lifeline. They can help you work through the negative thoughts and feelings overwhelming you and offer advice on how to keep yourself safe.

Above all, keep in mind that it is best to avoid being alone when you have thoughts of suicide. Individuals who spend time with other people are less likely to experience the mental health challenges of those prone to social isolation.

5. Seek Professional Mental Health Treatment

Ultimately, sometimes the best course of action for someone experiencing a suicidal crisis is to reach out for professional support. Behavioral health centers like The Blackberry Center offer crisis stabilization services to de-escalate situations involving suicidal ideation.

To stop thoughts of suicide, mental health professionals may utilize any of the following treatment options in someone’s stabilization plan:

Once the most immediate risk of suicide has passed, someone’s crisis intervention team may recommend seeking additional treatment to resolve any deeper issues. These programs can minimize the impact of other mental health conditions, prevent future thoughts of suicide, and guide someone toward long-term recovery.

Stop Thoughts of Suicide at The Blackberry Center

The Blackberry Center is a mental health treatment facility that helps individuals cope with conditions like substance use disorder, depression, and suicidal ideations. Our tailored treatment plans are designed with each unique patient in mind. We strive to ensure everyone in our care has all their concerns addressed. That way, they can make a swift return to normal, daily life.

If you or a loved one are experiencing thoughts of suicide and need help, please call us at 888-512-9802 or fill out a confidential contact form online. Our admissions experts can answer any questions you have and connect you with crisis support services. Remember that suicide is never the answer to your problems, but with the proper resources and aid, you can overcome any challenge.

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