Suicidal Ideation Causes, Signs & Symptoms

Often times the signs of suicidal ideation can be difficult to identify. One of the most important steps in the recovery journey is understanding the signs, symptoms and side effects of suicidal ideation.

Understanding Suicidal Ideation

Learn about suicidal ideation

There are few things more frightening than loved ones or friends expressing they may not want to live anymore. It is one of those topics no one has a ready or effective answer for and we often feel helpless when such a thing occurs. For the individual, putting such thoughts into words can also be a very scary experience; we often feel as if once we verbalize something and it’s out in the open, it somehow becomes more real.

Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are complex since a number of factors can change the way the feelings are experienced, the types of thoughts that develop and the way in which they may be presented. For example, the factors which can place an individual at risk for suicidal thoughts and behavior can change based on gender, age, culture and ethnic identity. Additionally these factors may combine or change over one’s lifespan.  There are also factors that are specific to the individual that are hard to discover without knowing the person very well and noticing something about them seems different. Often, even when the people know the man or woman well, it isn’t unusual they don’t discern anything different.

At Lakeview we understand the great pain you are in and are here to help. We understand it may feel as if no one can understand the agony you are experiencing inside, the worrisome thoughts and impulses to act in a way to stop the suffering. We also know how many people with suicidal thoughts and behaviors are reluctant to disclose their thoughts and feelings to others for fear of being rejected, judged as weak, or flawed in some way.

At Lakeview we will never judge you; we understand that these thoughts and feelings do not appear out of nowhere. We never view people with such thoughts and feelings as having some type of defect in their character that makes them weak or attribute any type of internal shortcoming as the cause for these thoughts. To the contrary, we believe in helping you identify your strengths, natural abilities and take those to create a basis for positive coping strategies.

When you’re in the midst of a haze of suicidal thoughts it can be difficult to even consider you have positive attributes. They are there however and we will help you come to identify these unique strengths and resiliency factors and learn how to use them to see yourself and your environment in a different way.


Suicidal ideation statistics

While many people believe that the highest rates of suicide are in teenagers and the elderly, the highest prevalence rates and fastest rate of growth are seen in the middle aged.  Prevalence rates for middle age men are 27.3 per 100,000 in middle age men and 8.1 per 100,000 in middle age women.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of suicidal ideation

Some individuals who are thinking seriously considering suicide often give off warning signals that they are in crisis and need immediate help. Signs to look for include:

  • Beginning or increasing drug and alcohol abuse
  • Noticeable personality changes – suddenly becoming quiet or withdrawing social interactions
  • Seeming preoccupied with violence or death
  • Withdrawing from family, friends and other social relationships
  • Expressing the desire to be “left alone”
  • Expressing a sense of feeling trapped by life circumstances
  • Feeling hopeless about that life will improve
  • Talking about suicide using statements such as “I’m going to kill myself,” or “I wish I were dead”
  • Collecting potential items that could be used to commit suicide
  • Changes in normal routine, such as eating or sleeping more or less
  • Reckless behavior
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Saying goodbye to others
  • Giving away cherished belongings
  • Getting legal affairs in order
  • Sudden change from depressive behavior to a calm, or neutral demeanor


Effects of self-injury

Many physical effects of suicide attempts can result for the individual depending on the method used. These include:

  • Total organ failure
  • Specific organ failure
  • Brain damage
  • Paralysis
  • Coma
  • Death

Suicide survivors are the people that are left behind following a successful suicide attempt. These effects can include:

  • Anger
  • Prolonged, delayed grief
  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Helplessness
  • Abandonment
  • Pain
  • Shame
  • Hopelessness
  • Confusion
  • Self-blame
  • Guilt
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling alone
  • Facing social stigma of suicide

If you or a loved one are considering suicide, call 911 immediately to get help.  To learn more about treatment options for you or your loved one, call one of our Admissions counselors for a confidential screening.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Suicidal ideation and co-occurring disorders

A number of different disorders are known to co-occur with suicidal thoughts and behavior. These include:

  • Mood disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Alcoholism
  • Substance use disorders
  • Disruptive disorders
  • Conduct disorders
  • ADHD
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Personality disorders