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How to Help Those Struggling with Suicidal Ideation

Suicidal ideation can be distressing to those who are suffering from these types of thoughts as well as their worried family members. When kids are feeling this way or having these types of thoughts, they are likely suffering from other issues, most likely related to high amounts of anxiety or depression. Suicidal ideation can also be a symptom of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Suicidal ideation can be dangerous when it is not addressed. Suicidal ideation can also interfere with your child’s emotional development, self-esteem, and even their school work. The distress of having these thoughts can distract your child from connecting with others and affect their ability to concentrate. You can help your child with these thoughts by getting them into some type of therapy to address the underlying causes, educating yourself on the underlying issues, monitoring them for warning signs, and supporting them through their therapy.

What Is Suicidal Ideation?

Suicidal ideation is the recurrence or obsession of thoughts about suicide. These thoughts can range in severity based upon the nature of the thoughts. Suicidal ideation can range from fleeting thoughts about suicide or not wanting to live (passive) to detailed planning (active). This could mean that your kid is thinking about the concept in a broad sense, without any specific detail. Your kid can also be considering suicide due to their mental distress and negative emotions. They may also be detailing specific plans about suicide. The more specific that the thoughts are, the more dangerous or at-risk your child might be. However, any type of suicidal ideation needs to be taken seriously, as the thoughts can continue to progress in severity.

Passive Suicidal Ideation

Passive suicidal ideation could be thoughts or feelings that indicate low amounts of value and self-worth. These could be statements like:

  1. “The world would be a better place without me.”

  2. “No one would miss me if I died.”

  3. “I don’t do anything important; what’s the point of living?”

  4. “My life doesn’t really matter.”

Thoughts and statements like these can indicate a feeling that your kid does not feel like they contribute anything meaningful to the world. They may be having a difficult time knowing or feeling that they are loved or valued. They may also be feeling depressed or having feelings of despair. These statements are general and often indicate that there is something going on that your kid needs to talk about and work through. This can mean that there is an underlying mental health issue occurring. You should address this before things get worse or spiral further toward active suicidal ideation.

Active Suicidal Ideation

Active suicidal ideation includes thoughts of considering suicide or even planning suicide. Where passive ideation indicates a somewhat indifferent view on life in general or your child’s place in the world, active suicidal ideation means that they may be seriously considering suicide to escape from the inner pain and turmoil that they are experiencing. These can be bolder statements and actions. Active suicidal ideation can include things like:

  1. Talking specifically about suicide

  2. When?: Suicide can often occur on specific dates and a person might say things like, “None of this will matter tomorrow anyway..” or “I won’t be around on my next birthday.”

  3. How?: When your kid talks about specific means of suicide and talks more in detail about it, like, “I’m going to jump off that bridge across town” or “I’m going to get your handgun from your drawer to shoot myself” or “I’ll overdose on my anti-anxiety meds.”

  4. The more detailed the description of suicide, the stronger the consideration, and the more at-risk your kid might be.

  5. Preparing for suicide

  6. They may be doing things like giving away possessions in preparation.

  7. You might notice pills or medication missing. They might be stocking up to prepare for an intentional overdose.

  8. They may be collecting any weapons or other items that could be used for suicide or self-harm.

Be Supportive and Compassionate

Any type of suicidal ideation needs to be taken seriously. Active ideation may require more extensive and immediate interventions. Passive ideations could lead to active ideation and suicidal behavior. Be open and non-judgmental when talking with your child. Opening up about suicidal ideation can be difficult and many people do not want to entertain the conversation or try to “fix” it immediately. Let your kid talk about their thoughts and feelings without interrupting or trying to stop them from expressing themselves. At this time, what they need most is compassion and understanding. When you hear them out and actively listen to what they are saying, you can then evaluate their level of risk and danger. By educating yourself on the subject of suicide and ideation, you can become more comfortable with the topic and be more open to listening. Your child needs your support and help before things get out of control.

Seeing our kids dealing with suicidal ideation can be difficult for us to understand or approach. We might be shocked or taken aback by some of the things our kids are saying. As parents, we need to meet these feelings with compassion and understanding. Remember that suicidal ideation is a way of communicating that something is wrong. By encouraging your child to be open and talk about their feelings, we can help them get a handle on it. Our children may not always feel comfortable opening up to us about everything, but we can always help them find support from professionals. Whether your child is expressing active or passive suicidal ideation, they are expressing that they need help! Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Centers may be able to help your child deal with their feelings and thoughts about suicide. Call us today at (303) 443-3343. At Fire Mountain, we’ve got your back! We are here to help.

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