Suicide is a serious problem that affects millions of people worldwide. Active suicidal ideation is a condition that is characterized by having ongoing thoughts about ending one’s life and taking active steps to make that happen. While passive suicidal ideation involves having thoughts about death or self-harm but not acting upon them, active suicidal ideation is more severe and often requires immediate attention and intervention.
Understanding Suicidal Ideation
Suicidal ideation is a term used to describe thoughts and feelings related to suicide. While it’s normal to experience occasional and fleeting thoughts about death, suicidal ideation involves persistent and intrusive thoughts of self-harm or suicide. These thoughts can be very distressing and can affect a person’s ability to function in their daily life.
It’s important to understand that suicidal ideation is a symptom of an underlying issue, such as depression, anxiety, or trauma. It’s not a character flaw or a sign of weakness. Seeking help is a sign of strength and can be life-saving.
Passive Suicidal Ideation
Passive suicidal ideation refers to having thoughts about death or self-harm without actively planning or taking steps to make it happen. This can include thoughts about what it would be like to die, the desire to go to sleep and never wake up, or wishing that someone or something would kill you. Passive suicidal ideation is often a sign of underlying emotional distress and should not be ignored.
Active Suicidal Ideation
Active suicidal ideation, on the other hand, involves actively planning and taking steps to end one’s life. This can include acquiring the means to commit suicide, such as purchasing a gun or stockpiling pills, or making specific plans about when and where to end it all. Active suicidal ideation is a serious condition that requires immediate attention and intervention.
If you or someone you know is experiencing active suicidal ideation, it’s important to seek help right away. This can include calling a suicide hotline, going to the emergency room, or contacting a mental health professional. With the right treatment and support, it’s possible to overcome these thoughts and feelings.
Comparing Passive & Active Suicidal Ideation
While both passive and active suicidal ideation involve thoughts about suicide, active suicidal ideation poses a much greater risk because it involves taking specific steps to make it happen. In contrast, passive suicidal ideation involves having thoughts about death and self-harm but not taking action.
Causes Of Active Suicidal Ideation
Mental Health Disorders
Mental health disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety disorder can cause suicidal ideation. These conditions can lead to hopelessness, despair, and feelings of worthlessness, all of which make people feel like they have no choice but to end their lives.
Depression, for example, is a common mental health disorder that can cause suicidal ideation. People with depression often feel sad, hopeless, and helpless, and they may lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. They may also experience changes in appetite and sleep patterns, which can further exacerbate their feelings of hopelessness and despair.
Bipolar disorder, on the other hand, is a mood disorder that can cause extreme mood swings, from manic highs to depressive lows. During depressive episodes, people with bipolar disorder may experience suicidal ideation.
PTSD is a mental health disorder that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. People with PTSD may experience flashbacks, nightmares, and intense feelings of fear and anxiety, all of which can contribute to suicidal ideation.
Substance abuse, particularly alcohol and drug abuse, can increase the risk of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Drugs and alcohol can affect judgment, leading people to engage in risky behaviors such as suicide. Substance abuse can also lead to depression and other mental health disorders, making suicidal ideation a more likely outcome.
Alcohol abuse, for example, can lead to depression and anxiety, both of which are risk factors for suicidal ideation. People who abuse drugs may also experience changes in mood and behavior that can contribute to suicidal ideation.
People who experience physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, neglect, or other traumatic events are at higher risk of suicidal ideation. These events can cause significant emotional distress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression, leading to thoughts of suicide.
Chronic Pain Or Illness
Chronic pain or illness can make life unbearable and trigger suicidal ideation. People living with chronic pain or illness find it challenging to carry out their daily activities and may feel hopeless and helpless, leading them to consider suicide as the only way out.
Chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, and back pain can cause physical discomfort and limit people’s ability to engage in activities they once enjoyed. Chronic illness such as cancer, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis can also cause significant emotional distress, which can contribute to suicidal ideation.
Warning Signs Of Active Suicidal Ideation
Recognizing the warning signs of active suicidal ideation can help save lives. Suicide is a serious issue that affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. It is important to be aware of the warning signs and take action if you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
Here are some of the red flags to look out for:
People with suicidal ideation may become irritable, agitated, or withdrawn. They may start engaging in risky behaviors such as drug abuse, excessive drinking, or reckless driving. These behaviors may be a way to cope with emotional pain or a sign that the person has given up on life.
In addition, people with suicidal ideation may also begin to give away prized possessions and say goodbye to loved ones as though preparing for their death. This behavior is a clear indication that the person is contemplating suicide and needs immediate help.
People with suicidal ideation may feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless. They may experience intense emotional pain, including sadness, anger, or anxiety. They may feel like they have no one to turn to and that their situation is hopeless.
People with suicidal ideation may talk about suicide directly or indirectly, saying they feel like a burden to others, expressing the feeling that they cannot go on with their lives, or saying they wish they were dead. These statements should always be taken seriously and addressed immediately.
If you hear someone expressing these thoughts, it is important to listen non-judgmentally and offer support. Encourage the person to seek help from a mental health professional or a crisis hotline.
People with suicidal ideation may withdraw from social activities or isolate themselves from others. They may give up on things that they used to enjoy, such as hobbies, sports, or school. This behavior may be a sign that the person is struggling with emotional pain and needs help.
If you notice someone withdrawing from social activities or showing other signs of suicidal ideation, it is vital to reach out to them and offer support. Encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional or a crisis hotline.
Assessing The Risk Of Suicide
There are several risk factors that increase the likelihood of suicide. One of the most significant risk factors is depression. People who suffer from depression often experience feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness, which can lead to suicidal ideation. Substance abuse is another risk factor that can increase the risk of suicide. Substance abuse can lead to impaired judgment, impulsivity, and reckless behavior, which can increase the risk of suicide.
Other risk factors for suicide include a history of previous suicide attempts, a family history of suicide, financial or relationship problems, and access to lethal means such as firearms or drugs. People who have attempted suicide in the past are at a higher risk of attempting suicide again. Similarly, people who have a family history of suicide may be more likely to attempt suicide themselves.
Protective factors are factors that can reduce the risk of suicide. Having a supportive social network is one of the most crucial protective factors. People who have strong social support are less likely to feel isolated and alone, which can reduce the risk of suicide. Having access to effective mental health care is also a key protective factor. People who receive appropriate treatment for mental health issues are less likely to experience suicidal ideation.
Having a sense of purpose or meaning in life is another protective factor that can reduce the risk of suicide. People who have a clear sense of their values and goals are more likely to feel that their life has meaning and purpose, which can reduce the risk of suicide. Finally, having good coping skills is an important protective factor. People who are able to cope with stress and adversity in healthy ways are less likely to experience suicidal ideation.
Suicide Risk Assessment Tools
Several suicide risk assessment tools are used to evaluate the risk of suicide. These tools help healthcare providers determine the severity of suicidal ideation, identify the level of risk, and develop appropriate intervention strategies. One such tool is the Suicide Behaviors Questionnaire-Revised (SBQ-R), which assesses the severity of suicidal ideation and behavior.
Another tool is the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS), which assesses the risk of suicide and helps healthcare providers develop appropriate intervention strategies. The Suicide Risk Assessment Instrument (SRAI) is another tool that is used to assess the risk of suicide and develop appropriate interventions.
It is critical to remember that suicide is a complex issue, and there is no single factor that can predict suicide with certainty. However, by understanding the risk and protective factors associated with suicide, healthcare providers can develop appropriate interventions to help people who are at risk of suicide.
Ketamine Infusion Therapy & Its Benefits
One innovative approach to treating active suicidal ideation and associated mental health disorders is the use of ketamine. Ketamine is a powerful anesthetic and analgesic historically used in surgery and for pain relief. However, recent research has revealed its potential as a rapid-acting antidepressant, with significant effects seen within hours of treatment.
Unlike traditional antidepressants that can take weeks to begin working, ketamine acts quickly to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. It works on the glutamate system in the brain, which is involved in learning and memory, and stimulates the growth of new connections between brain cells.
Ketamine’s rapid action is particularly beneficial for individuals experiencing active suicidal ideation, as it can quickly reduce the intensity of these thoughts and potentially prevent a suicide attempt. Further, ketamine therapy has shown promise in treating treatment-resistant depression, meaning it can provide relief for individuals who have not responded to other forms of treatment.
In addition to its antidepressant effects, ketamine can also provide relief from symptoms of PTSD and chronic pain, which are often associated with suicidal ideation. This multi-faceted approach makes ketamine a promising treatment option for those struggling with a range of conditions that contribute to active suicidal ideation.
Dealing with active suicidal ideation can feel isolating, but it’s crucial to remember that you’re not alone. There is help available, and with the right support and treatment, it’s possible to overcome these thoughts and feelings.
At Greater Wellness Clinic, we understand the gravity of active suicidal ideation and are committed to providing compassionate, effective care. We offer ketamine therapy as one of our treatment options, aimed at rapidly reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and chronic pain.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our team of mental health professionals is here to help you navigate this challenging time and find a path towards greater wellness.
Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. You don’t have to face this battle alone. Reach out to Greater Wellness Clinic today and discover how we can support you on your journey to recovery.