Suicide is often the result of many factors which can vary from person to person. Many people thinking about suicide are having difficulty coping with stressful factors and feel very overwhelmed and hopeless.
The majority of people who consider suicide also have a mental illness like depression or substance abuse. These conditions may cause suicidal thoughts alone or simply make stressful situations worse.
Factors that may increase the risk of suicidal ideation include mental health disorders such as:
Other factors that may increase the risk of suicidal ideation include:
People who are thinking about suicide may:
Other symptoms may include:
These symptoms can occur without suicidal ideation. However, if someone you know has these signs, try to talk to them to better learn what is happening. Asking about suicidal feelings will not encourage someone to commit suicide but may actually help prevent suicide.
If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide or harming oneself, it is important to seek professional help right away. There are many suicide hotlines to help those considering suicide or to provide information for friends and family of someone considering suicide.
If the risk of suicide is severe, go to an emergency room or call for emergency services. Risk is considered severe if the person has a well thought out plan to commit suicide and has access to items that can cause harm.
The doctor will ask about symptoms and medical and psychiatric history. Family members may also be interviewed.
A mental health specialist may complete a psychological assessment to look for any underlying issues.
Immediate hospitalization may be needed if there is a severe threat of suicide.
Individual, family, and/or group therapy will be used to help manage suicidal thoughts.
Overall treatment goals include:
To help reduce your risk of suicidal ideation:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Canadian Mental Health Association
Gliatto M, Rai A. Evaluation and treatment of patients with suicidal ideation. Am Fam Physician. 1999;59(6):1500-1506.
Major depressive disorder. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116638/Major-depressive-disorder-MDD. Updated September 20, 2016. Accessed October 3, 2016.
Risk of suicide. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Available at: http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Related-Conditions/Suicide. Accessed March 8, 2016.
Suicidal thoughts. American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy website. Available at: http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/Consumer_Updates/Suicidal_Thoughts.aspx. Accessed March 8, 2016.
Suicide—causes. NHS Choices website. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Suicide/Pages/Causes.aspx. Updated November 15, 2012. Accessed March 8, 2016.
Suicide risk factors. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website. Available at: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/learn/riskfactors.aspx. Accessed March 8, 2016.
Symptoms and danger signs. Suicide Awareness Voices of Education site. Available at: http://www.save.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewpage&page_id=705f4071-99a7-f3f5-e2a64a5a8beaadd8. Accessed March 8, 2016.
Teenage suicide. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry website. Available at: http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Teen-Suicide-010.aspx. Updated October 2013. Accessed March 8, 2016.
Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James Cornell, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.