Causes, Signs & Effects of Suicidal Thoughts

Suicidal ideation is a term used to describe situations in which a person is preoccupied with taking their own life. These suicidal ideations can range anywhere from a fleeting thought to a detailed plan and can be deliberately designed to fail or carefully planned to succeed.

More About Suicidal Ideations

Learn More About Suicidal Thoughts

In any event, suicidal thoughts should always be taken seriously. Feeling as though suicide is the only way out simply means that these individuals are experiencing feelings that are much more than they can handle. They feel trapped, feeling as though there is nothing they can do to make the pain go away.

Suicide is a tragic reaction to certain stressful situations. However, with proper care and treatment, suicide can be prevented. Many people believe that if a person is determined to end his or her own life, there is nothing that can be done, but this could not be further from the truth. Suicidal individuals have mixed feelings about wishing to live and wishing to die as a way to relieve emotional pain. If you feel as if there is no way to solve your problems other than suicide, known that there is another way out. Suicide is not the answer, it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.


Statistics on Suicidal Ideations

Nearly 40,000 people in the United States die by suicide each year. While women are more likely to make a suicide attempt, men are more likely to die by suicide because they use more lethal means, such as a firearm, compared to women. In 2007, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States at an overall rate of 11.3 suicide deaths per 100,000 people. It’s estimated that 11 suicide attempts occur per every death by suicide.

What Causes Suicidal Thoughts?

Learn About the Causes and Risk Factors for Suicidal Ideations

There are many causes for suicidal thoughts and most often are the result of an individual feeling like they are not able to cope with overwhelming life circumstances. Some people believe that there is no hope for the future and in the middle of an emotional crisis believe that suicide is the only way out. Other causes and risk factors for suicidal ideation are believed to be a mixture of genetic, physical, and environmental factors working together. Common causes and risk factors for suicidal ideation include:

Genetic: People who are born into families who have a history of mental illness or suicidal thoughts and behaviors are at a higher risk for developing suicidal thoughts and behaviors themselves. However, although there is a genetic component to suicidal thoughts, not everyone who has a family history of suicide will develop suicidal ideations.

Physical: Some research has linked low levels of certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, as well as changes to the structure and function of the brain as increasing the risk for many mental illnesses, including disorders that have suicidal ideation as a symptom.

Risk Factors:

  • Untreated mental disorders
  • A substance abuse problem
  • Prior history of suicide attempt(s)
  • Family history of suicide, mental disorders, violence, or substance abuse
  • A chronic pain or a terminal illness
  • Being male
  • Are bisexual, homosexual, or transgendered

Signs of Suicidal Thoughts

Signs and Symptoms of Suicidal Ideations

The symptoms and warning signs of suicidal ideation may not always be able to easily identify. Some people who are thinking about death by suicide may never show any symptoms of their intentions. Symptoms of suicidal ideation may include:

Behavioral Symptoms:

  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Talking about death, dying
  • Getting affairs in order
  • Obtaining items needed for suicide attempt
  • Socially withdrawing
  • Increasing drug and alcohol use
  • No longer engaging in activities once enjoyed
  • Increase in risky behaviors

Physical Symptoms:

  • Scars or injuries from past suicide attempts
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Chronic and/or terminal illness

Cognitive Symptoms:

  • Preoccupation with death and dying
  • Belief that dying by suicide is the only way to end emotional pain

Psychosocial Symptoms:

  • Hopelessness
  • Paranoia
  • Intense emotional pain
  • Feeing hopeless about a situation
  • Mood swings
  • Sudden changes in personality
  • Severe anxiety and agitation
  • Feeling helpless
  • Psychosis
  • Self-loathing

Effects of Suicidal Thoughts

The Effects of Suicidal Ideations

The long-term effects of suicidal ideation can be catastrophic for everyone involved. The effects of suicidal ideation on the person who has suicidal thoughts may include:

  • Severe injury
  • Brain damage
  • Brain death
  • Damage to all organ systems
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Effects on Suicide Survivors:

Recent research has shown that for every successful suicide attempt, 6 to 8 loved ones are left behind. These suicide survivors are often consumed by a number of conflicting emotions such as guilt, anger, and grief over losing someone they cared so much about. Effects of suicide on suicide survivors include:

  • Shame
  • Anger
  • Deep depression
  • Extreme guilt
  • Feelings that they could have prevented the loss
  • Complicated grieving

Co-Occurring Disorders

Suicidal Ideation and Co-Occurring Disorders

Many times suicidal thoughts and behaviors are the result of an undiagnosed or undertreated mental health disorder. The most common co-occurring disorders include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Alcoholism
  • Schizophrenia
  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia