Suicide is a very scary line of thinking, particularly if it has never come up in your own mind. Yet for some people, the thought of committing suicide goes from being unthinkable to looking like a good idea. That journey is hidden, subconscious, and much more common than most would think. Every year, over one million people attempt suicide, and nearly 50 thousand Americans complete it. Due to the prevalence of this epidemic, talking about suicide is no longer taboo.
Among young adults, suicides happen for a myriad of reasons, from pre-existing mental health conditions to constant physical and emotional pain. What can start out as a vague idea that ending life is the best option can turn into active intention to complete the act. Rationalizing suicide takes time, and suicidal ideation can be caught before it turns to action. The key factor is to intervene during the stages prior to the point that plans are made. This is accomplished through educating ourselves on the signs and symptoms associated with suicidal ideation.
Suicide has a number of possible causes, all linked to severe physical and emotional suffering. While there is a genetic link to suicide – meaning those with a family history of suicide may be more likely to commit suicide as well or have suicidal thoughts – this can often be due to another shared family condition, such as depression, addiction, or anxiety. There are statistics which indicate that once one family member has utilized suicide as an option, the stage has been set for other family members to more seriously consider this as a way out, as well.
Men are more likely to commit suicide than women, due to choosing more lethal options. The level of lethality – or violent means – which is employed can affect the chances of completion. However, women more frequently attempt suicide. The less violent ways that females attempt suicide include overdosing on medications. Minorities and stigmatized identities – such as homosexual and transgender persons– are more likely to think of suicide due to bullying, and the culture which one is raised in can contribute to how the act is considered and completed. Specific causes of suicidal ideation among young adults include:
At Paradigm, we work closely and carefully with young adults who are struggling with suicidal thoughts, through several different treatment methods and approaches. The therapeutic work to address suicidal thoughts is woven into the persons’ overreaching treatment plan, which will be to address the underlying symptoms and causes present, which are leading to these severe, harmful thoughts.
By addressing a personal perspective of what a young adult is going through, we’re better able to help escape from the thought patterns that they’ve become accustomed to, as well as recognize what sorts of support resources they might need. First and foremost, our work is to ensure that young adults are safe and not at risk of harming themselves. Beyond a person’s immediate safety, we want to help them work through their thought patterns and belief systems.
We work with the young adults through different stages, including helping them address the codependent disorders or symptoms that are present; acknowledge difficulties within relationships and address how to improve them; and carefully evaluate triggers and help them to become equipped as to how to overcome them, in the future.
We also teach a number of different healthy coping techniques, such as meditation, breathing exercises, and other similar things, so that they can learn healthy ways of finding relief, rather than turning back to old habits, when under pressure. In every way possible, we not only want to help young adults to overcome their suicidal thoughts, but to equip them and empower them with strong coping mechanisms, so that they can successfully navigate the stressors and conflicts of their lives.
If there is one strong message to share about thinking of suicide, it’s to get help, and to know that there is hope. You're not going to feel like this forever, and change can begin now. Life can be much, much better.
I can't say enough about the team of therapists whose expertise, kindness, compassion and dedication drew my son out of his dark depression, challenged him to challenge himself, re-instilled in him the will to live, and brought the beautiful smile back to his face.
- Chantal C.
Could it be attention-seeking?
If someone you know and care for speaks about suicide in a way that implies that they’re thinking of or would like to kill themselves, then it’s important to take into consideration the idea that they are serious. Too often, we misinterpret the signs of genuine distress, and then regret our lack of intervention.
Sometimes, a bad joke in a comedic context can be interpreted as just that – a bad joke – but if the topic comes up again and again, then it may be much more than just poor humor. This type of cry for help is to be taken seriously, rather than an example of seeking attention for attention’s sake. It is generally better to play it safe when it comes to addressing any expressions of consideration of suicide.
Why do some people become suicidal and others don’t, despite the same risks?
Many practically imperceptible factors go into whether someone develops suicidal thoughts or not. Certain factors such as socioeconomic disadvantage and stress at home or at school have a large impact on depressive thinking, but to push it to suicide, there is often a deeper level of risk that may not be immediately noticeable. Personal experiences, especially trauma, as well as genetic factors such as a likelihood to develop and descend into progressively depressing thoughts can all contribute to the likelihood of thinking about suicide.
Past that, the push from ideation to action requires crossing yet another mental line, and situational pressures are often key to that: severe bullying, trouble at school, rejection, and emotional pain. Why people have suicidal thoughts differs from person to person.
Is it okay to talk about suicide?
Yes, it is. Talking about suicide and suicidal thoughts from a position of concern or curiosity can help alert you to any suicidal ideation a friend or family member might have. It also helps to encourage them to be open about their thoughts and feelings and consider no important topic to be taboo. Suicide in the media, so long as it is explored in a way that does not glorify the idea of suicide or the act of suicide, also helps bring awareness to the reality that these topics are on the minds of millions of Americans, and that over a hundred people die per day to suicide – one for every 25 suicide attempts.
Do not glorify or promote suicide but make it clear that talking about it is important, especially if your loved one has been thinking about it lately.