What Is The Difference Between Suicidal Ideation And Suicidal Intent Suicide ideation: Symptoms, causes, prevention, and resources

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What Is The Difference Between Suicidal Ideation And Suicidal Intent

Suicidal thoughts involve a person thinking about ending their own life. However, there is no universally accepted definition of the term “suicidal ideation” in the medical community.Some people say that suicidal ideation involves actively planning suicide, whereas suicidal thoughts do not necessarily indicate a person has the intention to end their life.However, others consider planning as a separate category and believe that suicidal thoughts and ideation are the same.Suicidal ideation is common. In 2020, 12.2 million people in the United States reported seriously thinking about suicide. Of these, around 10% attempted suicide. With support and treatment, though, suicide is preventable.This article discusses suicidal ideation, including the symptoms, causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. It also explains where to get help.A person who is thinking about or planning suicide may show changes in their speech, feelings, and behavior. They may talk about:their feelings of guilt or shamebeing a burden to othersdeathThe person may feel:unbearable emotional painextremely anxious and sad, full of rage, or agitatedtrapped, hopeless, empty, or that there is no reason to livesevere fluctuations in mood or mood swingsTheir behavior may also change. A person contemplating suicide may:withdraw from friends or familyuse alcohol or drugs more frequentlysleep or eat more or lesstake dangerous risksresearch ways to diestockpile medicationsmake a plan for their suicidepurchase a gunmake a willgive away important possessions or moneysay goodbyeNot everyone who is thinking about suicide shows these warning signs. Sometimes, the signs may be subtle.Learn more about the warning signs of suicide.Suicidal ideation often does not have a single cause but occurs due to a combination of different life events, thoughts, and feelings.Risk factors include:depression or other mental health conditionsa history of suicide attemptsa family history of suicide, substance misuse, or mental disorderschronic painrecent release from prisonexposure to family violence, including sexual or physical abusedirect or indirect exposure to others’ suicidal behaviorthe presence of guns in the homeSometimes family members or friends may notice a person has signs of having suicidal thoughts. When this happens, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention advises: talking calmly with them in private and expressing caretaking what they say seriously and assuring them that their life mattersremoving dangerous objects, such as guns and drugs, from their reachcalling for help and staying with them until help arrivesfollowing up with them after the crisis is overThe diagnosis of suicidal thoughts 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 predict 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 suicidal thoughts 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 mental health center.Treatment for suicidal thoughts and actions involves addressing the underlying cause or causes.Safety planningSafety planning is a short-term 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.PsychotherapyPsychotherapy, or talk therapy, helps people understand how their thoughts, feelings, and experiences impact their mental health. It then helps people work through their emotions and find ways to move forward.There are many types of psychotherapy. Some popular options include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (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 mental health conditions requiring special attention, such as eating disorders or addiction.Learn about 14 different types of therapy.MedicationMany people who think about suicide may have a mental health condition, such as anxiety, depression, or a substance use disorder. 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 suicidal ideation as a side effect, particularly in adults under the age of 25. 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 supportPeople are less likely to take their own life if they receive ongoing support. This may involve easy access to effective mental health care, should a person need it again, as well as frequent follow-up calls from healthcare professionals.A person’s family, friends, and community also play an important role in ensuring they stay connected with people. It can help people to focus on the things that give their life meaning and purpose, such as:looking after a pet, as they provide unconditional lovefaith, as many religions promote the sanctity of lifethings to look forward to, such as a wedding, graduation, or vacationlong-term plans or goalsIf 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 healthcare professional confidentially:988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 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.Veterans Crisis Line: This provides a 24/7 online chat service for veterans, even if they do not receive benefits from the Veterans Administration. To contact, call 988 and press 1, or text 838255.The Trevor Project: 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:Suicide Prevention Resource Center: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers information about programs, toolkits, and effective strategies.National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention: This organization works with more than 250 national partners to promote suicide prevention.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 45,979 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 suicidal thoughts, and 1.2 million attempted suicide.Suicidal ideation is when a person is thinking of ending their own life. Some people use the term interchangeably with “suicidal thoughts,” while others view suicidal ideation 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 healthcare professionals 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 suicidal ideation, taking them seriously and getting immediate help is vital.Read this article in Spanish.

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