#JamesDonaldson On #MentalHealth – What Is #SuicidalIdeation?


#Suicidalthoughts involve a person thinking about ending their own life. However, there is no universally accepted definition of the term “#suicidalideation” in the medical community

Some peopleTrusted Source say that #suicidalideation involves actively planning #suicide, whereas #suicidalthoughts do not necessarily indicate a person has the intention to end their life.

However, others consider planning as a separate category and believe that #suicidalthoughts and ideation are the same.

#Suicidalideation is common. In 2020, 12.2 millionTrusted Source people in the #UnitedStates reported seriously thinking about #suicide. Of these, around 10% attempted #suicide. With support and treatment, though, #suicide is preventable.

This article discusses #suicidalideation, including the symptoms, causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. It also explains where to get help.


If you know someone at immediate risk of #self-harm, #suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering #suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis #counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of #suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The #988 #SuicideandCrisisLifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then #988.

Click here for more links and local resources.

Symptoms of #suicidalideation

A photo of a woman under an umbrella in a storm.

A person who is thinking about or planning #suicide may show changes in their speech, feelings, and #behavior. They mayTrusted Source talk about:

  • their feelings of guilt or shame
  • being a burden to others
  • death

The person may feel:

  • unbearable emotional pain
  • extremely anxious and sad, full of rage, or agitated
  • trapped, hopeless, empty, or that there is no reason to live
  • severe fluctuations in mood or mood swings

Their #behavior may also change. A person contemplating #suicide may:

  • withdraw from friends or family
  • use #alcohol or #drugs more frequently
  • sleep or eat more or less
  • take dangerous risks
  • research ways to die
  • stockpile medications
  • make a plan for their #suicide
  • purchase a #gun
  • make a will
  • give away important possessions or money
  • say goodbye

Not everyone who is thinking about #suicide shows these warning signs. Sometimes, the signs may be subtle.

Learn more about the warning signs of #suicide.

Causes of #suicidalideation

#Suicidalideation often does not have a single cause but occurs due to a combination of different life events, thoughts, and feelings.

Risk factors includeTrusted Source:

  • #depression or other #mentalhealthconditions
  • a history of #suicideattempts
  • a family history of #suicide, #substancemisuse, or #mentaldisorders
  • chronic pain
  • recent release from prison
  • exposure to family violence, including sexual or physical abuse
  • direct or indirect exposure to others’ #suicidalbehavior
  • the presence of #guns in the home


Sometimes family members or friends may notice a person has signs of having #suicidalthoughts. When this happens, the #AmericanFoundationforSuicidePrevention advises:

  • talking calmly with them in private and expressing care
  • taking what they say seriously and assuring them that their life matters
  • removing dangerous objects, such as #guns and #drugs, from their reach
  • calling for help and staying with them until help arrives
  • following up with them after the crisis is over


The diagnosis of #suicidalthoughts or ideation can happen in a number of ways.

If a person is feeling suicidal and makes an appointment to speak with a #doctor or #therapist, they will have a conversation to determine how severe the symptoms are and whether the person has suicidal intent. This refers to whether a person has an active plan to take their own life.

An array of #suicide screening and risk assessment tools are also available for #doctors. However, these tools cannot always predictTrusted Source an imminent risk of #suicide accurately. For this reason, a face-to-face interview is vital.

A #doctor or #therapist may also spot signs of #suicidalthoughts in other situations, such as in a routine appointment for chronic pain or #depression. If a person is seriously unwell or may be a danger to themselves, diagnosis may take place in a #mentalhealth center.

#James Donaldson notes:
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

Order your copy of James Donaldson’s latest book,
From The Verge of Suicide to a Life of Purpose and Joy


Treatment for #suicidalideation

Treatment for #suicidalthoughts and actions involves addressing the underlying cause or causes.

Safety planning

Safety planning is a short-termTrusted Source intervention that reduces the likelihood that a person will try to end their life. This approach limits a person’s access to lethal means of #suicide by removing weapons, #drugs, and poisonous substances from the home.

Safety planning also provides people with contacts and support resources they can use if they are in a crisis.


Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, helps people understand how their thoughts, feelings, and experiences impact their #mentalhealth. It then helps people work through their emotions and find ways to move forward.

There are many types of psychotherapy. Some popular options include #cognitivebehavioraltherapy (#CBT) and #dialecticalbehaviortherapy (#DBT).

#CBT teaches people to identify and, over time, replace unhelpful thoughts that negatively affect their mood with more balanced, realistic alternatives. #DBT helps individuals to recognize negative thoughts and learn skills that boost coping methods in unsettling situations.

There are also some specialized versions of #CBT for people who have experienced #trauma or have other #mentalhealthconditions requiring special attention, such as #eatingdisorders or addiction.

Learn about 14 different types of therapy.


Many people who think about #suicide may have a #mentalhealthcondition, such as #anxiety, #depression, or a #substanceusedisorder. Medications may help treat the symptoms of these conditions and regulate a person’s mood.

There are different medications a #doctor could prescribe, depending on the situation and a person’s circumstances.

However, it is also worth noting that some of these #drugs can also cause #suicidalideation as a side effect, particularly in #adults under the age of 25Trusted Source. A person should discuss any medications they already take with a #doctor to determine whether adding another, or changing the dose, is likely to benefit them.

Ongoing support

People are less likelyTrusted Source to take their own life if they receive ongoing support. This may involve easy access to effective #mentalhealthcare, should a person need it again, as well as frequent follow-up calls from #healthcareprofessionals.

A person’s family, friends, and community also play an important role in ensuring they stay connected with people.

It can helpTrusted Source people to focus on the things that give their life meaning and purpose, such as:

  • looking after a pet, as they provide unconditional love
  • faith, as many religions promote the sanctity of life
  • things to look forward to, such as a wedding, graduation, or vacation
  • long-term plans or goals

Where to get help

If a person is having thoughts of #suicide, it is critically important to get help as soon as possible. Below are helplines and support services where a person can speak with a #counselor or #healthcareprofessional confidentially:

  • #988 #Suicide&CrisisLifeline: An individual may receive 24/7 phone support by calling 988. Alternatively, the older number 800-273-TALK (8255) is still available.
  • Crisis Text Line: Texting “HOME” to 741741 connects people to a #counselor 24/7.
  • #VeteransCrisisLine: This provides a 24/7 online chat service for #veterans, even if they do not receive benefits from the #VeteransAdministration. To contact, call 988 and press 1, or text 838255.
  • The #TrevorProject: This is a crisis line for #teenagers and young #adults who identify as #LGBTQIA+. To contact, call 866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678.

The following websites offer information for people who want to learn more about #suicide and its prevention:

  • #SuicidePrevention Resource Center: The #SubstanceAbuse and #MentalHealth Services Administration offers information about programs, toolkits, and effective strategies.
  • #NationalActionAllianceforSuicidePrevention: This organization works with more than 250 national partners to promote #suicideprevention.
  • Zero #Suicide: This organization believes it is possible to prevent deaths from #suicide in people who receive care from #behavioral health systems. It presents a framework for safer #suicide care.


#Suicide was the cause of 45,979Trusted Source deaths in the U.S. in 2020. This is one death every 11 minutes.

In the same year, approximately 12.2 million people in the country had #suicidalthoughts, and 1.2 million attempted #suicide.


#Suicidalideation is when a person is thinking of ending their own life. Some peopleTrusted Source use the term interchangeably with “#suicidalthoughts,” while others view #suicidalideation as a distinct and more serious #mental state.

Signs a person may be thinking about #suicide include changes in their #behavior, mood, or the things they talk about. They may appear to be making plans for their death, giving money or possessions away, or taking unusual risks.

However, #suicide is preventable. Support from #healthcareprofessionals and loved ones can keep a person from becoming isolated or gaining access to dangerous objects, such as guns. Treatment may involve a combination of safety planning, therapy, and medications.

If a loved one is experiencing #suicidalideation, taking them seriously and getting immediate help is vital.


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