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Suicidal Ideation: What You Need to Know

Suicide Ideation: What You Need to Know

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

I wish I were dead.
Dying seems so much easier.
I hope I do not wake up tomorrow morning.

Have you ever had thoughts like these?  You are not the only one. Thinking about death and dying is not uncommon. We all question life and death at one point or another. However, when these suicidal thoughts continue for days, months, even years, they are far from healthy. Do you think like this? You should not have to live every day wanting to die.

Suicidal ideations are thoughts about or an unusual preoccupation with suicide. Suicidal ideation varies in severity depending on the person. It is difficult to define what suicidal ideations feels like for everyone.

Still, the grim reality is many go to sleep at night hoping they do not wake up the next morning. If this sounds all too familiar, you need to get professional help. Fighting these thoughts on your own for too long can lead you down a darker path.

The Variations of Suicidal Ideation:

  • Fleeting Thoughts– Thoughts about suicide and/or dying that come and go.
  • Extensive Thoughts– Thoughts last for much longer and are much more poignant, eventually becoming unmanageable.
  • Detailed Planning– Planning or idealizing concrete ways in which the suicide or death would take place.
  • Role Playing – Acting the suicide out. An example would be standing on a chair with a noose, with no set plans to commit suicide that day.
  • Incomplete Attempts– Also known as Parasuicides. Suicide attempts that are “deliberately constructed to not complete or to be discovered, or may be fully intended to result in death, but the individual survives (e.g., in the case of a hanging in which the cord breaks).”

Most people with suicidal ideations do not go on to make suicide attempts, but it is still considered a risk factor.

In 2008-09:

“An estimated 8.3 million adults aged 18 and over in the United States, or 3.7% of the adult US population, reported having suicidal thoughts in the previous year. An estimated 2.2 million in the US reported having made suicide plans in the past year.”

As you can see, those results reveal that suicidal thoughts can become worse over time, developing into suicidal plans putting a person at risk of suicide.

What Causes Suicidal Ideation?

The reason for suicidal ideation varies on a variety of circumstances. As you can imagine, suicidal ideation is generally associated with depression and other mood disorders. For example, a person with borderline personality disorder may exhibit suicidal behavior and thoughts. In fact, one study revealed 73% of patients with BPD have attempted suicide, with the average patient having 3.4 attempts.

Scientists believe there may be a genetic component to suicidal ideation. Just like many mental illnesses, genes may make a person more susceptible. Other associations with suicidal ideation include life events, family events, and chronic pain that can cause a vulnerable person to become preoccupied with suicidal thoughts.

Fast Facts:

  • Most people with suicidal thoughts do not carry them out to their conclusions.
  • There are about 30,000 suicides each year in America.
  • Roughly 4 in 5 American suicide victims are male.
  • Almost all suicides are associated with mental illness
  • In America, there are more suicides than homicides: 2:1

As you can see, suicide is a serious problem. While suicidal thoughts do not necessarily lead to suicide, living with these thoughts can be very destructive to one’s emotional and physical wellbeing. Suicidal thoughts should not become part of who you are. You should thrive for a life free from these thoughts.

While many are vocal with their thoughts, some people with suicidal ideation keep it to themselves. They seem happy on the outside, but on the inside, their thoughts continue to fester. Keeping it in is dangerous. Over time, suicidal thoughts make a person feel hopeless and angry. They feel like their feelings are not being heard or understood. They begin to feel unable to handle the grief and challenges of life.  This sense of bleakness can cause a person to feel like death is the only answer.

The Most Dangerous Part

The dangerous part of having suicide thoughts is keeping them inside and not getting help. Unfortunately, those that struggle with suicide ideation often feel their symptoms are not severe enough to need help. Do you really want to live the rest of your life feeling this way? You deserve to feel better than you do right now.

Without professional help, these thoughts may eventually become worse. There are a variety of options to help you if you struggle with these thoughts. A combination of therapy, exercise, medication and support groups are useful for helping navigate these feelings. While you may have read about these options before, ask yourself, have you given them a chance? Most people will read about treatment options all the time, yet never try to get help.

Life is challenging. You should not have to do everything on your own.The reality is there are treatment options available to those who live day to day in this mindset. Professionals are waiting to talk to you now.  If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

Drugs that Make You Want to Die

Drugs that Make You Want to Die

Author: Justin Mckibben

Why do drug addicts use? Well typically we addicts are using with the intention to get high. But what usually happens is the drugs take us to our lowest lows, and I say that speaking from experience. When using drugs, we addicts tend to be chasing a feeling of euphoria that we feel our lives are missing. However a lot of the drugs that are more commonly abused, and more frequently create debilitating addictions, are said to be more prone to fuel depression and even thoughts of suicide.

New research says people who consume excessive amounts of alcohol, take speedy drugs, or use opiates actually tend to teeter off the existential edge of an emotional cliff even more than previously thought. While this is not necessarily the rule of thumb, it is still relevant to those at risk. So which drugs according to this research are said to be prone to insight suicidal ideation?

Cocaine

Last year Didier Jutras-Aswad at the University of Montreal concluded after a study that,

“Users of stimulants [amphetamines] and cocaine appear at particularly high risk of suicide attempt.”

While the drugs themselves are not entirely guilty as much as the neurobiological, behavioral and social differences between people who take them, it is still a factor.

According to Jutras-Aswad users who take uppers tend to be more impulsive and moody than the rest of the population. In another study:

  • 5% of cocaine addicts admitted to trying to kill themselves

People who use cocaine are expected to go from one extreme to another much quicker. So one could jump from feeling miserable on the couch to actually taking action to hurt themselves under the influence of a powerful stimulant.

Amphetamines

Some of the most traumatic stories of amphetamine use and death come from prescription varieties such as Adderall. A lot of people develop a tolerance for this kind of drug and then take more, but whether it is that or the recommended dosage, people who use Adderall and similar drugs have said that they experience bursts of energy both physically and mentally, with alertness and focus that drives them to tackle many tasks. But once they begin to come down, they feel the lag both mentally and physically.

A lot of times the loss of focus, energy and excitement will cause depression to settle in, and even make life seem more unmanageable and futile than ever. Many consider suicide when having to deal with life on life’s terms with the drugs, and the come down in comparison to being on that stimulated high can make matters worse.

Alcohol

Alcohol is classified as a depressant, so this should come as no shock, but in case you don’t know, it’s definitely on the list. Alcohol becomes a deadlier element in this arena because it overcomes inhibitions, so it can eliminate the filter between our feelings and our actions, making it a far more dangerous downer. People who drink heavily are estimated to have:

  • 5 times the suicide risk of social drinkers
  • 40% of full-on alcoholics say they’ve tried to kill themselves at least once

It turns out you can assess a drinker’s suicide risk based on various other factors such as:

  • How much they drink
  • If they’re depressed
  • Have alcoholics in the family
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Sleep patterns

One alcohol-and-suicide study found insomnia was a “mediating” factor, and that insomnia can make a large contribution to suicidal ideation, only exaggerating an individual’s depression.

Opiates

There is still some disagreement about which of the opiate class of drugs belong on the suicide-watch list, but being a former opiate addict I figured I would throw opiates on this list just from my own personal experience as an opinionated warning. Some scientists consider opiates as a suicide-inspiring drug, including:

  • Prescription painkillers
  • Heroin
  • Sedative-hypnotic medications (barbiturates and benzodiazepines)
  • Other antidepressants

Others scientists are not yet convinced, but it can’t hurt to consider that maybe, just maybe, another drug in the ‘depressant’ class would be bad for someone who suffers from depression.

Synthetics

Synthetic drugs such as ‘Spice’, ‘K2’ and ‘Flakka’ (with names subject to change) have recently been making more waves for their unpredictably dangerous and increasingly life-threatening effects that are both poisoning to the body and the mind.

There have been countless reports over the last few years of the types of psychotic episodes some people have experience and the lives that have been drastically effected by these strange chemical cocktails.

Kimberley Plumley said of her 20-year-old son Joseph Signorelli was just one victim out of the numerous stories of shocking suicide linked to synthetics. Plumley claimed her son tried to quit using the addictive synthetic drug ‘Spice’, but the withdrawals were too intense.

“My son was depressed. He could not eat. He could not sleep,”

Her son took his own life last year after a psychological battle she claims was brought on by the substance.

While these affects need to be looked into to further understand where these drugs cause a mental break, there is plenty of reason to suspect they are hazardous to mental health, especially to those already at risk, and belong on this list.

What about Marijuana?

Now I know this sounds a bit off, but with the story last month of a 23-year-old man who shot himself in Colorado after eating lots of pot-laced candy, which the his family blames for his death, we should at least acknowledge the current argument, same as opiates.

Considering the growing reform and marijuana’s legalization in some states, along with a whole industry of pot snacks and hospitality services, this one should be something we are willing to examine thoroughly.

But let it be noted that there has never been much evidence about the drug either encouraging or discouraging suicide.

The Hard Truth

Now let’s consider this from another perspective. While it may seem easier to blame problems on drugs, usually there is also something else going on that inspires these tragedies. Some substances definitely corrupt our reasoning and mental stability to greater extremes than others, but in the end suicide is far too complex to try and credit that kind of tragic logic down to one substance.

As a former addict, as a suicide survivor and as someone who has lost many friends to both addiction and suicide, I would say that these kinds of presumptions are not without any sustenance, but the hard truth in my experience is that suicide is a lot more personal. We can’t take to blaming the drugs, because more often than not the drugs are just a symptom of a much more intrinsic issue that we have to acknowledge.

Just like blaming drug use on other factors of life, in my experience the real purpose is the feeling. The want to be in control of it… or numb to it. The desire to feel something at all… or nothing at all. There is so much more than what we can see in front of us when consumed by depression and drugs, so to say the drugs are the only contributor to suicide is to ignore the nature of depression and further stigmatize it. While this list is meant to point out the contribution drugs make to suicidal ideation, it is more or less to bring attention to how these illnesses harmonize, and ask what else can be done to treat them.

There is an amazing life waiting for us all, but we have to be willing to take some action, and responsibility, in order to get there. It all begins with a decision, and that decision can be just to reach out. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

 

I Think About Suicide (Almost) Every Single Day of My Life

I Think About Suicide (Almost) Every Single Day of My Life

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

 

By Cheryl Steinberg

Honestly, this one’s gonna be a hard one to write. Already, my pulse is racing and my hands are getting sweaty.

Breathe.

I’ve spoken out and/or written about my drug addiction, my depression, my food obsession, and even about being a survivor of sexual assault. But this is the first I’ve written about this sort of thing. Suicide is still an extremely taboo topic.

I have what’s called dysthymia, which is the fancy medical term for long-term, chronic depression. And my depression happens to come along with a pleasant little feature (*sarcasm*) known as suicidal ideation.

What is Suicidal Ideation?

Suicidal ideation is the technical term that describes having thoughts about, or an unusual preoccupation with, suicide. The range of suicidal ideation varies greatly from fleeting thoughts, to extensive thoughts, to detailed planning, and unsuccessful suicide attempts. The attempts can be serious in nature, meaning the person fully wanted to succeed in taking their life. In other cases, the attempts may be deliberately intended to fail or to be discovered ‘in time.’

Most people who experience suicidal ideation do not go on to attempt suicide but, it is a risk factor. Suicidal ideation is generally associated with depression, like in my case; however, it has also been associated with several other psychiatric disorders – as well as life and family events – all of which may increase the risk of suicidal ideation.

Back to my story.

I have attempted suicide, with at least one of those attempts being dead-serious (excuse the pun). There might have been a couple of other half-a$$ed attempts along the way. Did I mention that my depression – and suicidal thoughts – kicked in around the tender age of 12? So yeah, I’ve been fighting off these dark thoughts for most of my life now (I’m in my mid-thirties).

This isn’t a boo-hoo, woe-is-me post. This is to help both me and the reader out there who can identify with my story. Writing is cathartic, therapeutic.

I take an anti-depressant and a mood stabilizer. Have done so for years. I see a therapist. I exercise, do yoga, and (try) to meditate. All of these things combined can help but, the thoughts always return. On a particularly dark day – that also happened to be a day that I saw my therapist – we of course addressed my thoughts and feelings. At one point, my therapist said – and I’m paraphrasing – that, basically, this might be as good as it gets for me. Pardon? Come again? Just what the f*ck is that supposed to mean?! Is that supposed to somehow make me feel better?!

I’m also a person in recovery from drug addiction. I’m clear that my drug use was an attempt to self-medicate; to forget the thoughts, the pain, the obsession about death and dying. Now that I don’t have that outlet, I’m left coping as best as I can. I won’t say that drugs were the best solution but, they kept the thoughts away – at first.

And then somebody up and kills themself.

It was a friend of a friend and someone whom I had never even met before. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was that someone successfully did what I’ve pretty much always wanted to do. I have a morbid fascination with others’ suicides. This recent suicide victim blew her f*cking brains out. Forgive me if I seem callous or insensitive. To me, it’s still a tragedy; but at the same time, I can’t help feeling envious. I seriously tried once and, when I woke up in the ICU, my first thought – no lie – was, “Goddammit! I’m still here.” FML.

“Suicide is Selfish”

I also want to address the oh-so-popular sentiment that gets circulated when someone commits suicide. You know the one; you may have even said it yourself: “Suicide is a selfish act.” Well, I beg to differ. And, I’d bet ONE MILLION DOLLARS (if I had it) that, if you knew what it was like to feel the way that person did when they took their life – or how I do on a daily basis – you’d ‘get it.’

The truly selfish ones, in my opinion, are the ones who condemn people who commit suicide. I shall explain and I’ll speak from my own experience. To me, living is painful. Too painful to go on, sometimes. Sometimes, the most comforting thought is the one where I’ve left this Earth and I am finally at blissful peace. Those who say that people who kill themselves are selfish are actually the ones being selfish, and understandably so; they are hurt and probably can’t bear the thought of never seeing that friend, family member, lover ever again (at least in this life).

I think suicide is a personal choice. We all – for the most part – get to make our own decisions about our bodies: what we eat, where we live/work, who we sleep with, what we’re doing Friday night. I know none of these is as permanent as suicide but, to someone like me, with the thoughts that I have to bear, it’s just another personal choice and one that can be so tempting at times.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder, such as drug addiction, and/or depression or another psychiatric disorder, please call us toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to speak with an Addiction Specialist, day or night. We are here to answer your call and to talk about what’s going on and how we can help.

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