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What is suicidal ideation?

Suicidal ideation is when a person considers or thinks about killing themselves and is a symptom of major depression and is associated with many mental disorders. The phrase suicidal thoughts is interchangeable with suicidal ideation. These thoughts can range from a fleeting consideration to creating a detailed plan.

There are two kinds of suicidal ideation: passive and active. Passive suicidal ideation is when a person wishes they were dead or could die, but the person doesn’t have any plans to commit suicide. Active suicidal ideation is when a person wishes that they could die and has the intent to commit suicide with a plan on how to do it. Any person who is experiencing either kind of suicidal ideation should get help right away.


Symptoms of suicidal ideation range from the way someone carries themselves down to their actions. Many who experience suicidal ideation try to hide their thoughts and symptoms, so it often appears that nothing is wrong. However here are some warning signs that indicate someone may be experiencing suicide ideation.

  • Feeling trapped or hopeless
  • Feeling intolerable emotional pain
  • Being preoccupied with violence, dying, or death
  • Having extreme mood shifts, both happy and sad
  • Talking about revenge, guilt, or shame
  • Experiencing agitation or a heightened state of anxiety
  • Experiencing changes in personality, routine, or sleep patterns
  • Increasing the use of drugs or alcohol
  • Getting their affairs in order and giving things away
  • Getting hold of a gun or substances that could end a life
  • Experiencing depression, panic attacks, or impaired concentration
  • Isolating themselves from others
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Experiencing psychomotor agitation, such as pacing or wringing hands
  • Saying goodbye to others as though it were the last time
  • Experiencing a loss of enjoyment in previously pleasurable activities, such as eating, exercise, social interaction, or sex
  • Expressing severe remorse and self-criticism
  • Talking about suicide or dying
  • Expressing regret about being alive or ever having been born
Suicidal Ideation Treatment

If you or a loved one is suffering from Suicidal Ideation, Get help today by calling (801) 438-3185


Causes for suicidal ideation may range from the person’s state of mental well-being to traumatic or life-altering events. A challenging life event can cause a mixture of thoughts and emotions in someone, even thoughts about suicide. These occur when the person feels hopeless or unable to cope with their current situation.

  • Having attempted suicide in the past
  • Having experienced childhood abuse or trauma
  • Life-altering events taking place, like a loved one passing away or losing a job
  • Having a mental health disorder
  • Feeling hopeless, isolated, or lonely
  • Having a feeling of loneliness or seclusion
  • Experiencing legal problems or debt
  • Having a chronic physical illness like cancer, diabetes, or a terminal disease
  • Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Having a family history of suicide
  • Having a drug or alcohol use disorder
  • Having experienced childhood abuse or trauma

Showing Support

It is vital for someone with suicidal thoughts to have a strong support network in their lives, whether that is their friends or family. A person’s support network can make a difference in their lives for the better. If you know someone who may be struggling with suicidal ideation, here are some things to keep in mind as you help them overcome these strong feelings and emotions.

  • Be an active listener: Empathize and validate

    • Don’t minimize the problem or tell them how to feel. Let them know their feelings are valid and empathize with them. You can say things like “That sounds very frustrating” or “I can see why you feel that way.” Avoid telling the person how to feel or change their mindset. They need love and support, not instruction or advice.
  • Identify triggers and coping mechanisms

    • Ask what is making them feel the way that they are so that you know how to communicate in a way that isn’t challenging for them. Avoid bringing up the topic that may trigger their thoughts or anxiety. If they can’t pinpoint the exact cause of their feelings, that is okay. Identifying coping tools for them to utilize will make all the difference. If they like to go on walks to clear their head, do it with them. If they feel better doing breathing exercises or meditating, be there with them and support them in it. Coping tools are stepping stones for overcoming difficulties in mental health.
  • Offer material support

    • Even the smallest favors for this person can have a meaningful, lasting impact. Offer to drive them to doctor’s appointments and be with them. Offer to take them out to lunch. Though they may insist that they feel a burden to you, reassure them that it means a lot to you if they let you help them in any way you can.

Showing support to someone experiencing suicidal ideation is imperative to fully assist them in the healing process from negative thoughts and feelings. The stronger their support network, the more they will feel loved and important to others.


Getting the right treatment for suicide ideation may vary depending on how severe the suicidal thoughts are, how often someone gets them, and how long the suicidal thoughts last. A suicidal ideation scale may be used as a clinical tool to assess someone’s risk of committing suicide. This scale includes questions about a person’s thoughts, attitudes, and desire to commit suicide. Treatments for suicidal ideation normally consist of the following.

  • Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, during which you work with a therapist to explore why you’re feeling suicidal and how to cope.
  • Family therapy and education. Involving loved ones in treatment can help them better understand what you’re going through, learn the warning signs, and better establish support systems
  • Substance use disorder treatment. If the person is experiencing an increase in alcohol or drug use, being treated for substance abuse is highly recommended.
  • Medication. Severe depression could be causing suicidal ideation since suicidal thoughts are directly connected to your mental health. Doctors may prescribe meds to help someone’s mental condition. This may include antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications.
  • Lifestyle changes include getting better sleep, learning how to manage emotions and stress, getting good exercise, and developing a proper support network.

If you are suffering from suicidal ideation or know someone who is, there are many resources for proper help.

At The Phoenix Recovery Center, we offer help and clinical resources for someone who may be experiencing suicidal ideation, depression, or anxiety. Our treatment programs include a Residential Program, PHP Day program, Intensive Outpatient Program, and General Outpatient Program. Click on each service to learn more about what they entail and how they can help you on a path towards recovery from your anxiety or depression. We also offer addiction recovery services at our center for individuals who are overcoming challenges with addiction.

Get Started

If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental illness and health disorder, Call Now for Immediate Help: (801) 438-3185

The Phoenix Recovery Center
489 W. South Jordan Pkwy
Suite 400
South Jordan, UT