Knowing and Acting on the Signs of Suicidal Ideation

Suicide or taking one’s own life occurs too often when someone is overwhelmed by intense emotional pain. It can leave a family devastated and wondering what they could have done differently. When thoughts of suicide are not part of your thought process, you may not be aware of the signs and symptoms of suicidal ideation. 

You can learn keywords, phrases, and changes in patterns of behavior that will help you take a closer look at your loved one’s state of mind. If you can recognize what things someone might say or do that are warning signs of suicidal ideation, you may be able to prevent a tragedy from occurring.

What are the Main Signs of Suicidal Ideation?

1. Withdrawing from Normal Activities

If you notice your loved one not engaging in conversations, not participating at a family event, or disconnected from all social activities that they normally enjoy, this is a sign of suicidal ideation. It shows they have disconnected and are slowly moving away from those they love or care about. Try to include them in the conversation, ask for their help in setting up for a family function, or give them a specific task to complete with another person. 

2. Feeling Hopeless About a Situation

A difficult or stressful situation may seem overwhelming with no relief or end in sight. Let your loved one know you are available to talk about the situation. Remind them that there is hope, and you can support them through the difficulty. Listen patiently without judgment if they open up, and let them know they are not alone while dealing with the emotional pain.

3. Severe Anxiety and Agitation

This can happen if someone is bombarded with high levels of constant stress that overpower their ability to cope. You may find them pacing back and forth, trying to come up with a solution to whatever is bothering them. They dwell on the problem, and it seems to be constantly in their thoughts, which creates severe anxiety. 

4. Obtaining Items for Suicide Attempt

It is important to stay with someone at all times who is having signs of suicidal ideation. If they are making plans, they will have to gather the items needed. Make sure there are no extra medications available to them, remove weapons from their home so that they have no access to guns or knives, and offer to drive them to appointments or places they need to go. Removing any items that could be used for suicide may deter negative actions. 

5. Previous Suicide Attempts

It is a misconception that if your loved one has attempted suicide and survived, they will not try again. The opposite is true, and you should be even more vigilant since most attempts occur within three months to five years of the first try. Remember the symptoms that took place before the first attempt, and be observant of any major changes in behavior.

6. Preoccupation with Death or Dying

If suicidal ideation is frequently discussed by your loved one, it is vital to find professional help and learn any measures to ease their burdens and prevent them from taking action. Offer hopeful statements, such as “you are important to me, and I will help you through this difficult time.” Be supportive without judgment and simply listen to their fears and frustrations. 

Actions to Take for Your Loved One Showing Suicidal Ideation Signs

Listen Intently 

Don’t offer platitudes or cliches when they are talking about their emotional pain or intense feelings. Acknowledge their pain and take the conversation seriously. Listen and allow them to express whatever emotions or feelings they need to while passing no judgments.

Offer Unconditional Love

No matter what is said or talked about, offer consistent support and total love and acceptance. Let them know you are there to support them throughout the process of getting help to ease their pain. Refrain from arguing or debating with them as they talk to you and share their experiences or emotions.

Talk About Suicide Openly

If you have a loved one that has warning signs of suicidal ideation, talk openly with them about your concerns and your love for them. Let them know their life is important to you and you would like to get them help. Make comments of hope as you let them know others can help them feel better and that the emotions and pain they are experiencing are temporary.

If a Threat is Imminent, Call 911 and Get Professional Help

If they are locked in a room, threatening to hurt themselves, or unresponsive, reach out to 911 to get the emergency resources you might need. Keep yourself safe while taking every measure to let them know help is coming and they will be okay.

Listen intently to what they are saying and reach out for professional support. If the suicide threat is not imminent, but you feel you need assistance, you can always reach out to the Jason Foundation.

Getting Help for Those Showing Signs of Suicidal Ideation

It is important to learn the signs and symptoms of suicidal ideation to prevent your loved ones from hurting themself. Orange County Behavioral Health has a behavioral health treatment program specifically catered to these struggles. Call us today at 949-900-8426 or 877-467-2223 and offer hope and healing to those you care about.

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