FAQ About Suicide Thoughts
Suicide or the taking of one’s own life, is a tragedy each and every time it occurs. Approximately 4,000 suicides occur every year in the UK, but suicide rates have been falling recently (though the highest rates are still to be found among Scots). While some suicides come about as a surprise to family and friends, most are totally preventable if the signs are recognised early enough. Make sure that you could help others – or yourself – if needed by learning more about suicide and suicide thoughts now.
What Are Suicide Thoughts?Suicide thoughts are the thoughts or images that come into someone’s mind that lead him or her to believe that killing him or herself is the answer to his/her problems. Suicide thoughts are generally experienced while the person is awake, and mental health professionals often divide them into two categories. “Active suicidal ideation” involves a desire to die and involves a plan to bring this about. “Passive suicidal ideation” involves a desire to die but does not include a plan.
What Causes Suicide Thoughts?Otherwise healthy, happy people may experience suicide thoughts at some point in their lives. Common causes of suicide thoughts include:
- Unexpected life changes such as divorce, loss of a job or death of a loved one.
- Mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.
- Alcohol or drug abuse.
Are There Any Signs that Someone May Be Having Suicide Thoughts?No one can tell exactly what someone else is thinking, but there are certain signs and behaviours that might signal that someone is thinking of suicide. If you are worried about someone having suicidal thoughts, observe if they:
- Seem unusually quiet, down or “blue”.
- Are often visibly upset.
- Have trouble sleeping, such as sleeping too much or not enough.
- Appear listless, uninterested in normal activities or unable to experience joy.
- Gain or lose a noticeable amount of weight for seemingly no reason.
- Can not focus on a subject, task or stay on topic in a conversation.
- Engage in self destruction or self harming behaviours (driving too fast, burning themselves, cutting themselves and more).
- Increase alcohol or drug consumption.
- Mention thoughts of suicide, death or plans of killing oneself (even just hypothetically).
How Are Suicide Thoughts Treated?Suicide thoughts are treated with everything from gentle support and reassurance to hospital or psychiatric hospital admission if need be. In between these two extremes are common treatments such as on-going therapy and/or the prescription of anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication. Regardless of how someone is treated for suicide thoughts, support from family and friends can be an important factor in their recovery.
How Can I Get Help for Someone I Suspect of Having Suicide Thoughts?Getting help for those suspected of having suicide thoughts can actually be quite simple. Support can be found from, among other people:
- Teachers and other school or university personnel.
- Guidance counsellors.
- Emergency services accessed by calling 99 or at Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments.
- Private therapists.
- Clergy – even at an unfamiliar church/temple/synagogue/mosque.
- The Samaritans (call 08457 90 90 90).
- Mindinfoline (call 0845 766 0163).
Suicide thoughts are disturbing for everyone involved. Often the person experiencing the thoughts has no idea how upset family and friends would be if they knew the truth. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicide thoughts, share your experiences and seek help and treatment immediately. There is no shame in seeking support for suicide thoughts, but it would be a tragedy if anything worse happened.