Suicidal thoughts are difficult to understand and even more challenging to cope with. Ideas of taking your own life can come and go at varying levels of intensity over long periods and have a hugely negative effect on a person’s life, even if they don’t lead to active suicide attempts.
Without treatment, suicidal thoughts are unlikely to go away completely. So if you or someone you love are having suicidal thoughts, it may be time to seek suicide attempt treatment.
What Causes Suicidal Thoughts?
There is no definitive cause of suicidal thoughts. Suicidal ideation is highly individualized, and the reasons for these thoughts vary significantly from person to person. But, some factors can make certain individuals more vulnerable than others.
Dr. Julie D. Eberwein, Executive Director at Integrative Life Center, said factors contributing to thoughts of suicide include:
- Socioeconomic status
- Mental health issues
- Substance use problems
- Medical conditions
- Chronic pain
- Grief and loss
- Low self-esteem
- Relationship problems
- Employment difficulties
- Familial discord
- Past trauma or abuse
Depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health disorders are serious risk factors for suicide. And while the suicide rate is significantly higher among those with underlying mental health issues, anyone can experience suicidal thoughts. For many people, such thoughts can feel like the only way to deal with unbearable sadness or pain.
What to Do If You Have Suicidal Thoughts
Suicidal ideation exists on a spectrum, with passive on one end and active on the other. Passive suicidal ideation involves having recurring thoughts and ideas about death. Active suicidal ideation occurs when a person starts actively making plans to end their life.
Someone having active suicidal ideation must seek emergency help immediately by calling 9-1-1 or going to the nearest emergency room.
An individual with passive suicidal ideation can take steps to curb these thoughts before they become a mental health emergency. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, the below measures can help keep you safe while getting long-term help.
Distracting yourself can help manage thoughts of suicide in the short term. Rather than focusing on negative thoughts, try doing something you enjoy instead.
Positive distractions could be:
- Spending time with friends or family
- Walking your dog
- Watching your favorite movie
- Reading a good book
- Playing a video game
- Doing puzzles
- Listening to music
- Wandering around a museum
- Taking yourself out for dinner
It’s key to remember that while distractions can help at the moment, they won’t make suicidal thoughts disappear entirely. Distractions are a short-term coping strategy.
Engage in Self-Care
Self-care may be at the bottom of your priority list when you’re feeling low or thinking negatively. But engaging in self-care activities can also help diminish suicidal thoughts in the short term.
Self-care activities can include:
- Taking a long walk in nature
- Soaking in a hot bath
- Going for a relaxing massage
- Eating a balanced and nutritious meal
- Practicing meditation or mindfulness
These self-care activities release dopamine and serotonin, the hormones in your brain that help reduce feelings of anxiety, shift negative thoughts or moods, and increase feelings of calmness. It’s also easier to focus on your emotional needs when your physical needs are being met.
Talk to Friends or Family
Feelings of guilt or shame often prevent those having suicidal thoughts from reaching out to loved ones. But talking to the people who care about you can get you the help and support you need.
Reach out to a trusted friend or family member. Let them know you’re having a difficult time and need someone to be there for you. Having a support network and people you can talk to can help subdue suicidal thoughts and decrease the risk of suicide.
Loved ones can also assist in finding you the professional help and treatment you need in the long run.
Talk to a Professional
Speaking with a qualified mental health professional is another essential step. Talking to a professional can help you process your feelings and determine the next step for you.
You can call 9-8-8 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. This hotline offers 24/7, free, and confidential support to people in suicidal crises or experiencing other emotional distress.
Seek Suicide Attempt Treatment
If you have immediate thoughts of ending your life and already have a plan, you should call the emergency services at 9-1-1 or go to an Emergency Room. When your suicide risk is critical, a doctor may recommend that you stay at an inpatient facility where you’ll receive treatment and be monitored until you stabilize.
If suicidal thoughts are still more passive, you should still seek out suicide attempt treatment. Getting support from a trained mental health specialist is the best way to get to the root of your concerns and overcome suicidal thoughts for good.
Treatment for Suicidal Thoughts
Much like the suicidal thoughts themselves, suicide attempt treatment is a highly individualized experience. At Integrative Life Center, one of our qualified mental health professionals will help identify the underlying causes and triggers of suicidal ideation. They’ll then develop a personalized treatment plan just for you.
Depending on where you fall on the risk spectrum, treatment for suicidal thoughts may involve a mix of therapies and other experiential methodologies.
Suicide attempt treatment may include:
- Integrated Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (I-CBT)
- Trauma-Informed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
- Mindfulness and Meditation Therapy
Can You Overcome Suicidal Thoughts Without Treatment?
Suicidal thoughts won’t magically disappear without treatment. According to Julie, suicidal thoughts may decrease for a while, but they’re highly likely to return if left untreated. She said:
“Suicidal thoughts do not exist without attachment to some core issue or experience. It is critical to encourage treatment so that the core issue(s) can be addressed and neutralized, allowing the thoughts of suicide to no longer be a viable option. In the absence of treatment, suicidal thoughts may become less frequent and/or less emotionally charged, but they do not magically disappear.”
Distractions, self-care, and talking to loved ones are all great strategies for managing suicidal thoughts in the short term. But for suicidal thoughts to disappear in the long term, seeking professional treatment is the best choice.
How Integrative Life Center Can Help
Integrative Life Center offers the support and care you need to overcome suicidal ideation through our suicide treatment program.
Our highly-qualified therapists and mental health professionals take a trauma-focused and heart-centered approach to suicide treatment. We provide a customized treatment program to help you work through negative thoughts, process any unresolved trauma, and develop safe coping mechanisms for suicidal ideation.
Contact us today to learn more about suicide attempt treatment at ILC.