Suicide and suicidal thoughts : Causes-Symptoms-Diagnosis-Treatment

What is Suicide and suicidal thoughts?

Suicide is a complex issue with the World Health Organization (WHO) reporting that more than 800,000 people die from suicide every year The WHO estimates that up to 25 times more people attempt suicide each year Suicidal ideation is defined as any thoughts or plans regarding killing one's self while suicidal

What is Suicide and suicidal thoughts?
Suicide and suicidal thoughts

behavior refers to actual attempts at taking one's own life Both of these terms can be used interchangeably when talking about an individual who has died by suicide since it becomes difficult to prove whether they had suicidal thoughts or not

  1. Nervous system
  1. Brain

  2. Cerebral hemispheres

  3. Diencephalon or interbrain

  4. Thalamus

Medical terms

  • Suicide is a tragic reaction to stressful life situations Suicide can be prevented Whether you are considering suicide or know someone who feels suicidal learn about the warning signs of suicide and how to reach out for immediate help and get help from those who have been there You can save a life You may save your own life or somebody else's

Suicide is a serious problem But you can take steps to stay safe and start enjoying your life again

For immediate help

If you are feeling overwhelmed by thoughts of wanting to die or suicidal urges get help now

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately if you suspect that someone has been injured

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 in the U.S Press 1 and you will reach the Veterans Crisis Line or use Lifeline Chat

Symptoms Suicide and suicidal thoughts

It is noted that the warning signs of suicide include:

  • Talking about suicide for example making statements such as I'm going to kill myself I wish I were dead or I wish I hadn't been born

  • Getting the means to take your own life such as buying a gun or stockpiling pills

  • Withdrawing from social contact

  • Mood swings such as being emotionally high one day and depressed the next

  • Having a preoccupation with death or violence

  • Feeling trapped in a situation can be very difficult

  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs

  • It is difficult to change the normal routine

  • Risky or self-destructive things include using drugs or driving recklessly

  • Giving away belongings or getting affairs in order when there's no other logical explanation for doing this

  • Saying goodbye to people as if they won't see them again

  • Personality changes or severe anxiety and agitation may indicate a diagnosis of possible neurodegenerative disease

Warning signs may not be obvious Some people make their intentions clear while others keep suicidal thoughts and feelings secret

When to see a doctor

If you are feeling suicidal but aren't immediately thinking of hurting yourself call 911 or go to the emergency room

  • It may be hard to talk about your feelings but it is important to reach out to a close friend or loved one

  • Contact a minister spiritual leader or someone in your faith community if you have problems or concerns

  • Call a suicide hotline

  • Make an appointment with a doctor to discuss your health or mental health concerns or both

Suicide is a serious problem and it doesn't get better on its own So get help

Causes Suicide and suicidal thoughts

Suicidal thoughts often result from feeling overwhelmed by a situation that seems unbearable If you do not hope for the future you may mistakenly think suicide is a solution You may experience mind-wandering and find yourself thinking about death or suicide in your mind while asleep (this paraphrases the cause statement of DSM IV) A sort of tunnel vision where you believe that suicide is the only way out in a crisis

Suicide is also a genetic trait People who complete suicide or who have suicidal thoughts or behavior are more likely to have a family history of suicide

Risk factors Suicide and suicidal thoughts

Although women attempt suicide more frequently than men they are also more likely to complete the act To do so they typically use less-lethal methods such as a firearm

You may be at risk of suicide if you:

  • Attempted suicide before

  • Feel hopeless worthless agitated socially isolated or lonely

  • Experience a stressful life event such as the loss of a loved one military service the breakup or financial or legal problems

  • People who abuse drugs and alcohol can become more likely to have thoughts of suicide This can make you feel reckless or impulsively enough to act on your thoughts

  • A person with suicidal thoughts who also has access to firearms in the home is at serious risk

  • The condition is probably a psychiatric disorder

  • If you have a family history of mental disorders substance abuse suicide or violence including physical or sexual abuse in your family

  • If you have a medical condition that can be linked to depression and suicidal thinking such as chronic disease (such as cancer chronic pain or terminal illness) it is important that you talk with your doctor about how your condition could affect your mood

  • If you are lesbian gay bisexual or transgender with an unsupportive family or in a hostile environment you need to know that…

Children and teenagers

Suicide in children and teenagers may follow stressful life events What a young person sees as serious and insurmountable may seem minor to an adult — such as problems in school or the loss of a friendship In some cases a child or teen may feel suicidal due to certain life circumstances that are beyond their control He or she may not want to talk about such

  • Having a psychiatric disorder including depression

  • If you lose or conflict with close friends or family members it can be hard to recover

  • History of physical or sexual abuse

  • Problems with alcohol or drugs

  • These physical or medical issues include becoming pregnant having a sexually transmitted infection receiving medical care for a sexually transmitted infection being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS

  • Being the victim of bullying

  • Being uncertain of sexual orientation

  • Reading or hearing about suicide or knowing someone who has committed suicide (the use of a plural noun)

Young people who are at risk of suicide should be identified and encourage to seek help

Murder and suicide

In some cases people who are suicidal are at risk of killing others and then themselves This is known as a homicide-suicide or murder-suicide Some risks factors include:

  • The history of conflict with a spouse or romantic partner

  • Family legal or financial problems

  • Depression is a common mental health problem

  • Alcohol or drug abuse

  • Having access to a firearm

Starting antidepressants and increased suicide risk

Most antidepressants are generally safe when used as directed but the Food and Drug Administration requires that all antidepressants carry warnings of the most severe type In some cases children teenagers or young adults under 25 may have an increase in suicidal thoughts or behavior when they use certain antidepressants Taking antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) has been linked to suicidal thoughts and behavior In particular this is especially true in the first few weeks after starting or when the dose is changed If you are taking an antidepressant including Prozac or Zoloft make sure that you tell your doctor if you develop any unusual changes in mood or behavior

However keep in mind that antidepressants are more likely to reduce suicide risk in the long run by improving mood

Teen suicide prevention
Talk to your teen If you suspect that they are considering suicide tell them that it’s OK to talk about what they're thinking

Complications Suicide and suicidal thoughts

Suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide take an emotional toll For instance you may be so consumed by suicidal thoughts that you can't function in your daily life And while many attempted suicides are impulsive acts during a moment of crisis they can leave you with permanent serious or severe consequences If a person is injured such as by organ failure or brain damage that person may be very sick for a long time

For those left behind after a suicide grief anger depression and guilt are common

Prevention Suicide and suicidal thoughts

To prevent yourself from feeling suicidal:

  • Get the treatment you need. If you don't treat the underlying cause of your suicidal thoughts they will likely return You may feel embarrassed to seek treatment for mental health problems but getting the right treatment for depression substance misuse or another underlying problem will make you feel better about life and help keep you safe

  • Establish your support network. It can be hard to talk about suicidal feelings but you should make sure your loved ones know what's going on and are there for you when you need them If that isn't possible then reach out anyway so that the people who care about you understand your situation and are with you when things get bad You may also want to get help from a counselor or therapist at your school since most colleges have one of these services available on campus Knowing you are supported by others can reduce your risk for suicide

  • It’s pretty hard to resolve a conflictIf you feel hopeless or that life is not worth living anymore remember that treatment can help you regain your perspective Take one step at a time and don't act impulsively

What is the problem with suicide?

Suicide became a national problem in the United States at the turn of the 20th century A new urban society was emerging that was characterized by rapid change and growing social tensions In addition advances in technology made possible newly efficient methods of self-destruction -- from powerful handguns to dynamite -- which today remain among the most common means people use to take their own lives The rate of suicide began increasing rapidly and it has remained high ever since.

What is social death?

Social death refers to a situation in which an individual or group is so devalued that its members are considered to be less than human This condition has long been an integral part of the institution of slavery but it also applies to any person or group who is denied recognition as autonomous beings with inherent worth and dignity Throughout history and across cultures people have historically been denied social death in an unending list of ways including enslavement colonization religious persecution discrimination based on race gender and sexual orientation forced assimilation and genocide.

What is suicide according to Durkheim?

According to Durkheim it is normal for someone in distress to want to escape from the world However suicide is different because there are other ways of escaping one's troubles besides ending one's life Moreover no matter how much one desires death one must still make a moral decision on whether or not his desire justifies taking his own life.

  • Suicidal thoughts are a symptom of depression and anxiety disorder in which the person can't cope with his/her stressful environment These persons will have to be first diagnosed for any mental condition before starting treatment If a person has mainly depressive symptoms he/she could go for some medications like SSRIs or lithium or antidepressants For treating suicidal thoughts caused by alcohol use behavior therapy is recommended Some people may require hospitalization after the suicide attempt for intensive psychotherapy and drug-based treatment.

Diagnosis Suicide and suicidal thoughts

Your doctor may do a physical exam and an in-depth questioning about your mental and physical health to determine the best treatment for you

Assessments may include:

  1. Mental And Psychological Examination

  • Mental health conditions.Most suicidal thoughts are associated with underlying mental health issues that can be treated If this is the case you may need to see a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental illness (psychiatrist) or other mental health provider

  • Physical health conditions.In some cases suicidal thinking may be linked to an underlying physical health problem You may need blood tests and other tests to determine whether this is the case

  • Alcohol and drug misuse. For many people alcohol or drugs play a role in suicidal thinking and completed suicide Your doctor will want to know whether you have any problems with alcohol or drug use — such as bingeing or being unable to cut back or quit using alcohol and drugs on your own Many people who feel suicidal may not be able to talk about their feelings of hopelessness because they are afraid of losing their jobs families friends etc They may also fear that others might think they are crazy if People who are suicidal need treatment so they can stop using alcohol or drugs to reduce their feelings of hopelessness

  • Medications.Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause suicidal feelings Tell your doctor about any medications you take to see if they could be linked to your suicidal thoughts

Imaging tests

Children and teenagers

Suicide is a serious illness Children who are in emotional crisis usually need to see a psychiatrist or psychologist which requires experience in diagnosing and treating children’s mental health problems In addition to the doctor’s discussion with the patient he will want to get an accurate picture of what's going on from a variety of sources such as family school records and reports from friends or teachers Parents or guardians others close to the child or teen and school reports and previous medical or psychiatric evaluations are all taken into consideration when an action is made

Treatment Suicide and suicidal thoughts

Treatment depends on your specific situation and what underlying problems may be causing your suicidal thoughts or behavior


If you have attempted suicide and are injured please call 911 immediately

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number.

  • If you call and someone answers ask to speak with a supervisor

If you are not injured but there is immediate risk of hurting yourself:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number.

  • Call a suicide hotline number (1-800-273-TALK; 1-800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor Use that same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line

In the Emergency Room you will be treated for any injuries The doctor will ask you questions and may examine you looking for recent or past signs of attempted suicide Depending on your state of mind there may be medications to calm you or to ease symptoms of an underlying mental illness such as anxiety depression etc depressive disorder

Your doctor may want you to be in the hospital long enough to make sure that any treatments are working that will be safe when you leave and that you'll get follow-up treatment if needed

Non Emergency situations

If you have suicidal thoughts but are not in a crisis situation you may need outpatient treatment This type of treatment may include:

  • Psychotherapy.Psychotherapy also known as psychological counseling or talk therapy is the process of exploring issues that make you feel suicidal and learning skills to help manage emotions more effectively This type of treatment involves you and your therapist developing a treatment plan and goals together

  • Medications.antidepressants antipsychotic medications anti-anxiety medications and other medications for mental illness can help reduce symptoms which can help you feel less suicidal

  • Addiction treatment.Addiction treatment for drug or alcohol addiction can include residential treatment centers inpatient programs and self-help groups

  • Family support and education.Your loved ones can be both support and a source of conflict so involving them in treatment can help them understand what you are going through give them better coping skills and improve family communication and relationships

Helping a loved one

If you have a loved one who has attempted suicide or if you think your loved one is at risk of doing so get emergency help Don't leave the person alone

If you are concerned that someone you love might consider suicide talk with them You may not be able to force them to seek professional care You can encourage your loved one and support them in finding a qualified doctor or mental health specialist You can even offer to accompany the provider and make an appointment

When someone you love is chronically suicidal it can be stressful and exhausting You may feel afraid guilty or helpless Take advantage of resources about suicide and suicide prevention so that you have information and tools to take action when needed Also take care of yourself by eating well getting enough sleep exercising regularly spending time with friends and family members who love you without pressuring them to fix the problem for you (as a friend or family member would do) participating in hobbies as a way Getting support from family and friends organizations and professionals

Lifestyle and home remedies

There is no substitute for professional help when it comes to the treatment of suicidal thinking However a few things may reduce suicide risk:

  • Avoid drugs and alcohol.Alcohol and recreational drugs may worsen suicidal thoughts but they can also make you feel less inhibited This means you are more likely to act on your thoughts

  • Form a strong support network.Religious practice has been shown to help reduce the risk of suicide

  • Get active.Physical activity and exercise have been shown to reduce depression symptoms Physical activity and exercise are a great way to help curb your depression

Coping and support

Do not try to manage suicidal thoughts or behavior on your own You need professional help and support to overcome the problems linked to suicidal thinking In addition:

  • Go to your appointments.Don't skip therapy sessions or doctor's appointments even if you don't want to go or you don't feel like you need to

  • Take medications as directed.Even if you feel well don't skip your medications If you stop taking your antidepressants or other medications suicidal feelings may come back You could also experience withdrawal symptoms from abruptly stopping antidepressants or other medications

  • Learn about your condition.You can learn a lot about your condition by learning about its causes and treatments Learning more may empower and motivate you to stick to your treatment plan as for instance if you have depression

  • Pay attention to warning signs. Work with your doctor to learn what might trigger suicidal thoughts Learn how to spot danger signs early decide what steps you can take ahead of time and contact your doctor if you notice any changes in how you feel Consider involving family members or friends in the process Watch for warning signs

  • Make a plan to know what to do if suicidal thoughts returnYou may want to make a written agreement with a mental health provider or loved one to help you anticipate the right steps to take when you do not have the best judgment Coming clean about your suicidal intentions with your therapist makes it possible to anticipate it and address it

  • Prevent potential means of killing yourselfIf you think you are capable of suicide get rid of all potential means of killing yourself such as a firearm or knives If taking medications that have a high potential for overdose have a family member or friend give them to you as prescribed

  • Seek help from a support group.There are a number of organizations available to help you cope with suicidal thoughts and recognize that there are many options in your life other than suicide

Preparing for your appointment

When you call to schedule an appointment you may be referred to a psychiatrist because the doctor thinks the patient is at risk of committing suicide If you are in danger of hurting yourself and your doctor has no other options she may have you go to the emergency room even though it's not necessary

What you can do

Before your appointment here are a few things you can do to make the experience more pleasant:

  • Make a list of key personal information,Any major stresses or recent life changes can cause headaches

  • Make a list of all medications,Be honest with your doctor about your alcohol and drug use Be honest of the vitamins and supplements you’re taking as well as the doses

  • Invite a family member or friend to the appointmentIt is preferable to have someone who may remember something that you missed or forgot

  • Make a list of questions to ask your doctor.

Questions to ask your doctor include:

  • Could my suicidal thoughts be connected with an underlying mental or physical problem?

  • Do I need to have any tests for possible underlying conditions?

  • Do I need emergency treatment of some kind? How will it be provided?

  • What are some alternatives to the approach you're suggesting?

  • I have these other health or mental disorders. How can I best manage them together?

  • I wonder what I can do to keep myself safe and feel better

  • Should I see a psychiatrist?

  • Can you recommend a generic version of the medicine I'm prescribing you?

  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?

Ask for clarification when you don’t understand something

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions such as:

  • When did you first have suicidal thoughts?

  • Have you had suicidal thoughts on a continuous or occasional basis?

  • Have you ever tried to commit suicide?

  • Do you have a plan to kill yourself?

  • If you have a plan does it involve a specific method and place?

  • Have you made any preparations such as gathering pills or writing suicide notes?

  • Do you feel like you can control your impulses when you feel like killing or hurting yourself?

  • Do you have anyone you can talk to for help?

  • Do you drink alcohol and how often?

  • What medications do you take?

  • Do you use recreational drugs?

  • If you are having suicidal thoughts what can help?

  • What if anything has appeared to worsen your suicidal thoughts?

  • Do you have any hope that the future will be better?

Preparation and anticipation are important when you see the doctor

What you can do in the meantime

If you have an appointment be sure to go If you are unable to see your doctor immediately make sure you stay safe and contact family members or friends If you need help ask for help from people who care about you and call 911 or get emergency help immediately

General summary

  1. What Every Parent Should Know Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth and young adults ages 15 to 34 according to 2015 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) This makes suicide a significant health concern among adolescents in the United States In addition people with schizophrenia have an elevated risk of suicide compared to the general population.

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