Is Suicidal Ideation A Mental Illness?

Is Suicidal Ideation A Mental Illness?

You might frequently think about suicide or think about how the world will move on without you in it. You might even get to the point where you make plans to do it. The moment you understand that thoughts about suicide or self-harm are just thoughts and you don’t need to execute them is when you can help yourself or anyone you know experiencing the same thing.

What Is Suicidal Ideation?

Suicidal ideation is a broad expression that describes an obsession with death, suicide, or self-harm. There are two kinds of suicidal ideation:

  • Passive: This is when a person entertains the thought of “dying” or “not wanting to see the light of the next day” but doesn’t plan to execute the idea or take action.
  • Active: This is when a person not only entertains the thoughts but wants to execute them, and they even plan their death.

Suicidal ideation is common, but not everyone who entertains these thoughts want to act on it, which makes it challenging to foretell who will or won’t execute these thoughts or ideas.

So, is suicidal ideation a mental illness?

Suicidal ideation cannot be ruled out as a mental illness, but mental illnesses are classified as one of its risk factors. There is no known cause of suicidal ideation, but many factors contribute to it, including mental illness. 

How do you recognize when someone is suffering from suicidal ideation? When you or someone else expresses these symptoms, then you know you’re dealing with suicidal ideation; check them out below:


  • Talks about being hopeless or having no reason to be alive.
  • Incessantly telling friends, family, and relatives how they’re better off without you.
  • Displaying rash behavior like excessive drug and alcohol abuse.
  • Avoiding social gatherings or interactions.
  • Increased rage or anger
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Making plans on how to execute suicide plans like buying the tools or weapons or researching methods of suicide.
  • Posting on social media about not wanting to be alive.

Risk Factors

Below are some of the causes of suicidal ideation:

  • A person from a family with records of violence or suicide is more susceptible to suicidal ideation.
  • A person with a history of mental illness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Losing friends, finances, or a loved one suddenly
  • Financial or legal issues.
  • Suffering chronic pain or dealing with a physical health condition or challenge.
  • A history of attempted suicide
  • Experiencing bullying
  • Witnessing suicidal behavior in others
  • Experiencing assault or traumatic events
  • Stress from racism or gender discrimination

Most of the time, mental illness is believed to be the leading cause of suicide; meanwhile, half (54%) of the suicide cases in the U.S were not by people with diagnosed mental illness.

However, some common conditions have been linked to an increased chance of suicidal ideation:

Suicide Prevention

If you find yourself having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm, understanding the thought patterns can help you manage them.

  • Try to identify the things that trigger the thoughts or feelings and jot them down, including how you handle them.
  • Consider keeping a diary or a journal where you can write down your thoughts and emotions. You can do this, especially when it’s hard for you to reach out to others.
  • Prioritize self-care or practice some self-care activities like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, etc. to ease your mind off depressing thoughts 
  • You can reach out to a loved one or somebody you trust and feel comfortable with whenever you experience these thoughts 

How To Help Someone In Need

If you notice that someone has suicidal thoughts or self-harm, there are things you could do to help them:

  • Be supportive, whether in person or via other means.
  • Find out if they have any weapons or tools that can be used for suicidal purposes and get rid of them.
  • Connect them with someone who can be of assistance immediately.

On a final note:

Suicidal ideation arises in many different people with a wide variety of conditions. A single infusion of ketamine can drastically reduce suicidal ideation. By helping the brain from new neural pathways, ketamine therapy allows patients to change their thought patterns for the better. Contact us today to learn more!

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