What Is Suicidal Ideation?
Suicidal ideation is when you think about killing yourself. This could mean that someone is actively planning and considering suicide, or it could mean that someone is so overwhelmed that they just don’t want to go on. It’s estimated that about 9% of the general population experience suicidal thoughts, and around 5% of people between the ages of 18 and 25.
Those with health issues or other major life challenges are even more likely to deal with suicidal thoughts. Situational stressors like military service or being discriminated against can increase your risk of suicidal ideation, as can diagnoses of chronic pain, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, and more.
Passive suicidal ideation is when a person wishes to be dead or hopes that it will happen soon but doesn’t make any plans to make it happen. This could look like crawling into bed for the night and hoping that you don’t wake up in the morning. This could look like thinking about how you wouldn’t have to face your problems if you were gone. It could also look like feeling so tired that you wish you could just “sleep forever.” Essentially, you may not necessarily want to die, but you do not want to live your life either.
Active suicidal ideation is when a person not only wants to die but fully intends to and may even already have plans for how to do it. While both are cause for concern and treatment, if you are having suicidal thoughts that include details about how you would commit the act, it’s important that you talk to someone ASAP. Please reach out to a Hope Coach today, or call 988 for support and 911 if you’re in immediate danger.
Do You Feel Suicidal Right Now?
I know life can be hard and problems can pile so high that we cannot see a way out. I want to give you some practical ideas to try when you are at the depth of despair and feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. When you feel suicidal, please try these four steps.
When you have lost hope and believe suicide is the only way out, please try these four ideas:
1. Reach Out for Help
I understand that finding the strength to do this can be really hard, especially if you also feel alone, but suicide prevention services are available to help.
- Chat with a Hope Coach
- Call or chat with the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
- Call your Contract for Life Partner or anyone who you trust...friend, pastor, parent, teacher, etc.
What Is a Contract for Life Partner?
Every person who is even remotely thinking of suicide, should have a Contract for Life partner. A Contract for Life partner is someone you trust and who understands you. This is someone you make a commitment to that says, I promise that if I have serious thoughts of killing myself, I will talk with you or with someone else I trust before I do anything destructive.
John is a survivor and here is his advice, "Don’t keep quiet if you are going to hurt yourself or others…please speak up. If you are feeling suicidal then talk to someone, don’t keep quiet about it. There is someone out there who will listen to you."
Keely said she has an older friend she calls when she feels suicidal thoughts coming on: I told her everything. And I told her that I need her help. Sometimes I just call to hear her voice to know I'm not alone. Other times, I ask if we can get together. She doesn't grill me, she's just there for me.
A Contract for Life partner is priceless because you can meet with them face to face or talk on the phone anytime. If you do not have one, please make it a priority to go looking for one today.
2. Refer to your Safety Plan
Take time right now to print out the Prevention Checklist and fill in the blanks of the Suicide Safety Plan. Then, whenever you have depression and suicidal thoughts, you can pull out your plan and follow what you have written down.
3. Remove whatever can harm you at that very moment
If there are guns, knives, and pills in your house, then RUN from your house. Get away from anything you can use to hurt yourself. This will buy you time to settle down and begin to think rationally. Some people are most suicidal when they are drunk.
Have someone you know, and trust clear all those things out of your house.
Wendelin said she was suicidal for over three years but was helped by knowing she wasn't alone: I had a friend who was there for me no matter what. I tried to push this friend away so many times, she took away the knives and scissors I'd cut with, my dad's diving knife, my grandpa's gun, and the hose and rope so I couldn't hang myself. Even though I was so mad at her for it, I knew she cared and that she really did love me.
Glory wrote: I tried a couple of times but it never really worked. Then one night I realized something. If you can't change it, get over it. There are much better things to do in life than sit around hating life. God gave us life so we should use it. Killing yourself is only running away from your problems. It won't help one bit.
4. Turn to other Activities
The key here is to get your mind off of doing the unthinkable. If you are near suicide, you want to change the subject, or divert your mind from what you were planning to do. Walk, jog, bike, swim, take a nap, take a hot shower, watch a movie, listen to music, read a book, do household chores, clean, go shopping, go to the park, volunteer at an animal shelter for a few hours – An excuse to play with puppies? Yes, please! Anything that has the potential to help you lift your spirit.
Kelsey discovered this worked for her: I actually went and got a knife to kill myself and I just stopped and I was thinking this really isn't solving my problems is it? So I just decided to try to get into something like hip-hop classes, get my mind off my life, and just try to live life to the fullest.
You were made for more.
I know it feels like life will never get better, but I believe that you can get to the other side of this pain. I believe you were created for more than what you are feeling right now. God designed you in His image. He breathed life into you. He KNOWS you and LOVES you and has a purpose for your life. It may not FEEL that way, but we can't always trust our feelings.
There is a man in the Bible who God says was a man after his heart. His name was David. Yet David struggled with his feelings a lot. Read the book of Psalms and you will see what I am talking about. For example, here is what King David said in Psalm 6:6-9, "All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears. My vision is blurred by grief; my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies. Go away, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will answer my prayer." Here are other Bible verses to encourage you - Verses of Hope when Struggling with Suicidal Thoughts
There are many more articles on TheHopeLine regarding suicide and we want you to know you are not alone. You matter, you are good enough and you are loved.
If you or a friend need support right now, chat on-line with a Hope Coach, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988, for free confidential, 24/7 help. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world. For additional help, please visit the suicide prevention resource page.