Causes & Effects of Suicidal Ideation

Understanding Suicidal Ideation

Learn about Suicidal Ideation Treatment

Someone who is grappling with symptoms of suicidal ideation is likely to be experiencing intrusive, continuous thoughts of wanting to end his or her life. These thoughts can range in severity, from slight considerations to detailed planning. Even though suicidal ideations are occurring, it does not mean that the individual will take action on those thoughts. However, the presence of this condition can put an individual at risk to cross that line between just ruminating about suicide and acting on it. Thankfully, those who struggle with suicidal ideations can receive treatment that can help them change their thought patterns.


Statistics about Suicidal Ideation

It is impossible to determine the true prevalence of suicidal ideation, as these thoughts are often kept in one’s mind rather than openly discussed. However, research has been able to decipher the following about this condition:

  • Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in children and adolescents between ages 10 and 14.
  • In individuals between 15 and 25, suicide is the third leading cause of death.
  • For adults between the ages 25 and 54, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Suicidal Ideation

Researchers have determined that suicidal ideation is the result of a number of different causes and risk factors, including those below:

  • Family history of depressive disorders, bipolar disorder, or other types of mental illness
  • Being the victim of bullying
  • Personal or family history of substance abuse
  • Having a friend or loved one commit suicide
  • Being the victim of abuse and/or neglect
  • Lacking a healthy support system
  • Personal history of mental illness
  • Loss of a loved one

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Suicidal Ideation

When someone is experiencing suicidal ideation, he or she will likely display some or all of the following symptoms:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Drafting suicide notes
  • Engaging in self-harm or otherwise reckless behaviors
  • No longer participating in activities or hobbies that one once enjoyed
  • Abusing drugs and/or alcohol
  • Giving away one’s possessions
  • Talking or writing about death
  • Isolating oneself
  • Chronic absences from work or school

Physical symptoms:

  • Injuries that result from self-harming behaviors
  • Panic attacks
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Decline in the ability to experience pleasure
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Hypersomnia or insomnia
  • Changes in one’s physical appearance, such as no longer caring about how one looks or suddenly lacking proper hygiene

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Chronic, invasive, and unwanted thoughts about death
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Memory impairment

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Periods of emotional detachment
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation

Lasting Effects

Effects of Suicidal Ideation

When suicidal ideation continues, individuals are at risk for experiencing many effects to all areas of their lives. Some of these effects can include the following:

  • Deteriorating self-esteem, leading to worsening of self-destructive thoughts and behaviors
  • Making attempts at suicide
  • Beginning to abuse drugs and/or alcohol, possibly resulting in the development of an addiction
  • Decline in academic or occupational performance, potentially resulting in academic failure or job loss
  • Social withdrawal and isolation, potentially resulting in family discord, marital strife, and other disturbances within important relationships and friendships
  • Participation in self-harming behaviors

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Substance Abuse or Mental Health Issues

When someone is struggling with thoughts of suicide, he or she might also be grappling with symptoms of another mental illness, including the following:

  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Substance use disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
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