Loved One with Suicidal Ideations or Thoughts

What are suicidal thoughts?

Suicidal thoughts, refers to thinking about or planning suicide. These thoughts can stretch from devising a detailed plan to on and off consideration. People tend to experience suicidal thoughts during times of stress, or while enduring mental or physical health challenges. Individuals may be unable to cope with difficult feelings and feel less like a need to die and more like the inability to go on with life. 

What do suicidal thoughts look like?

An individual who experiences suicidal ideations or thoughts may have the following signs and symptoms:

  • Feeling trapped or hopeless
  • Feeling intolerable emotional pain
  • Overwhelmed by negative thoughts
  • Preoccupied with violence
  • Experience large mood shifts
  • Speaking about revenge, guilt, or shame
  • Showing changes in personality, routine, or sleep patterns
  • Increase use of drugs or alcohol
  • Engaging in risky behavior
  • Aquiring a gun or substance that could end a life
  • Isolating themselves
  • Saying goodbye to loved ones

What causes suicidal thoughts?

Suicidal thoughts can stem from any overwhelming situation, anything from finance problems, death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, or a devastating illness. There are also risk factors that can increase a person’s chances of suicidal thoughts, these include:

  • Family history of violence or suicide
  • Family history of child abuse, trauma, or neglect
  • History of mental health issues
  •  Knowing, identifying, or being associated with someone who has completed suicide
  • Identifying as LGBTQ+ with no family or home support
  • LOss of work, friends, finances, or a loved one
  • Having a physical or mental illness
  • Having attempted a suicide before
  • Experiencing legal problems or debt
  • Experiencing bullying or trauma

How does DSM define suicidal behavior disorder?

Symptoms of Suicidal Behavior Disorder

According to the DSM-5, there are five proposed criterion Suicidal Behavior Disorder, with two specifiers

  1. The individual has made a suicide attempt within the past two years.
  2. The criterion for non-suicidal self-injurious behavior is not met during the aforementioned suicide attempts.
  3. The diagnosis is not applied to preparation for a suicide attempt, or suicidal ideation.
  4. the act was not attempted during an altered mental state, such as delirium or “ confusion”.
  5. The act was not ideologically motivated- e.g. – religious or political.

Other specifiers are:

  • Current- Not more than 12- 24 months since last attempt.
  • In Remission- more than 24 months since last attempt. (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

Onset

The DSM-5 notes that Suicidal Behavior Disorder could occur at any point in the lifespan, very rarely under age five. (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

Treatment for Suicidal Behavior Disorder

The DSM-5 does not specify treatment options for Suicidal behavior Disorder(American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Treatment of an underlying mental or physical disorder may alleviate suicidal impulses, or improve coping with the source of distress. Instillation of hope is essential, as the individual must find reasons to continue living, rather than seeking self-destruction.

How can you help a loved one with suicidal ideation or thoughts?

If you think someone may be feeling suicidal, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling. It is hard to know what to say and it may feel uncomfortable, but that is normal and understandable. Here are some tips on how to communicate with a loved one who may be experiencing suicidal ideations:

  • Let them know that you care about them and they are not alone
  • Empathize with them
  • Do not criticize or blame them
  • Repeat their words back to them in your own words to show you are listening
  • Ask them about their reasons to live 
  • Reassure them that these feelings are only temporary
  • Make sure someone is with them if they are in immediate danger
  • Get professional help as soon as signs or symptoms appear

When should I call your office?

If you or your loved ones have concerns with suicidal thoughts, you can work with a specialist. At Soma Therapy, we can help! Call 316-201-6047 or fill out our contact form to get help & learn more about suicide resources today. We also often provide referrals in-town if we cannot connect you with the right resources within Soma Therapy. 

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