With more people being diagnosed with depression now than ever before, and more people struggling to cope mentally with the pressures of modern life, suicide is becoming an increasingly worrying trend. Throughout the U.S, many states have seen an increase in cases of suicide of up to 30% since 1999, and it’s now thought to be the 10th leading cause of death in the country.
However, most who are struggling with their mental health and feeling (at times) that they cannot cope do not take their own lives. They may, however, think about it (sometimes regularly). This is often referred to as suicide ideation, and describes the process of thinking about suicide. It usually comes in two forms, passive suicidal ideation and active suicidal ideation, and the two, while being very different, should both be addressed by mental health professionals.
Passive suicidal ideation occurs when a person wishes that they were dead or could die, but they make no plans to commit suicide. Active suicidal ideation however, involves a person going much further than thinking about suicide, and they may make plans to do it.
A symptom of both clinical depression — and the type of depression that those suffering from bipolar disorder experience — suicidal ideation can also occur in those who have other types of mental health issues or even in those with no history of mental illness at all.
What are the warning signs that you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide?
Suicide may be a topic that many of us prefer not to talk about, but it’s important to know some of the symptoms of suicide ideation so that you, or those you care for, can seek the help they need. Here are some warning signs to watch out for:
- Isolation from loved ones
- Experiencing a feeling of hopelessness or of being trapped
- Openly talking about death or suicide, but not necessarily of your own
- Mood swings, sometimes violent or prolonged
- Beginning, or increasing the use of drug taking or alcohol abuse
- Accessing the means to take your own life, such as medication, drugs or a weapon
- Behaving as if you’re never going to see friends and family again
There can be many more warning signs, but if you see any of the above in someone that you care about, or worry that you are experiencing them yourself, it’s important that you talk to a health professional to discuss your concerns. Take note also that the lines between passive and active suicide ideation are often blurred, and just because you may not believe that you or someone you know will go through with ending their life, you’ll benefit from taking it to a professional counselor.
Every life is worth living, and no problem is ever too big to be resolved, so please, if you’re worried about anyone who may be at risk of suicide, talk to someone who can help and never be afraid to admit if you’re feeling as if life is simply too much to bear.
Suicidal ideation is nothing to be ashamed about, and the more we accept and understand this, the greater chance we have to help those in need, including ourselves.
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