Suicidal ideation refers to any form of thinking or planning suicide. These thoughts can range from a basic feeling, like “I wish I could go to bed and never wake up,” to a detailed plan to commit suicide. Unfortunately, suicide is a growing concern across the country. According to the CDC, suicide rates have increased by nearly 30% in half of the states since 1999.

If you have thoughts about suicide and are in immediate need of support, please don’t hesitate to contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Hotline. This resource is available 24/7 and is free and confidential. You can contact them through their website or by calling or texting 988. If you do not need immediate assistance and are curious about what suicidal ideation is and what treatment options are available, we are here to help.

Types of Suicidal Ideation

There are two types of suicidal ideation — active and passive. It is essential to understand the differences between these two types.

Active thoughts

Active suicidal thoughts are when you not only have suicidal thoughts but also intend to go through with them. Detailed plans about means, methods, and timing are likely to present in active suicidal thoughts because the person wants to follow through.

Passive thoughts

Passive suicidal thoughts are when a person has ideas but no real intention to go through with them. Passive suicidal thoughts are restricted to basic thoughts and do not convey an immediate desire to self-harm or attempt suicide.


People show signs and symptoms of suicidal ideation in different ways. Some people may make their intentions clear, while others try to keep them hidden.

Common signs can include talking about suicide, being preoccupied with death, violence, or dying, and acquiring the means to take one’s own life, such as pills or weapons. People contemplating suicide may experience mood swings or feel trapped or hopeless about a situation. Other symptoms can include withdrawing socially and isolating.

Signs of a person considering suicide may include dramatic changes in daily routine, including sleeping habits and eating patterns, or engaging in self-destructive or risky behavior like using drugs or alcohol or driving recklessly. People may say goodbye to friends and loved ones as if it is the last conversation, give away belongings, or make efforts to get affairs in order without logical reasoning. Keep in mind that these symptoms may not always be obvious. They may also vary from person to person.

Causes of Suicidal Ideation

There is no singular cause for suicidal thoughts. People can have these thoughts for many reasons. However, many of these thoughts come from the inability to cope with an overwhelming life situation. What constitutes “overwhelming” can vary from person to person. While there is no singular cause for suicidal ideation, several factors can increase a person’s risk or likelihood of having these thoughts.

Risk Factors

Some factors may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or actions. People who have made previous attempts or have a family history of self-harm or suicide may be more likely to consider suicide. Traumatic or stressful events, like abuse, chronic pain or disease, and terminal illness, can cause thoughts of suicide. Feelings of isolation, agitated, hopelessness, and experiencing a mental health disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder, can put a person at risk.

Treatment Options for Suicidal Ideation

Treatment for suicidal ideation will vary depending on the situation. Not all treatments may be effective for all people based on how severe their thoughts are, how often they have suicidal thoughts, and how detailed those thoughts are.

Usually, a treatment plan is needed to combat suicidal ideation. The plan will be personalized to the individual’s needs and may contain treatment options such as talk therapy, medication, and hospital care. These are some of the most common treatment options for suicidal ideation, and they can each help in different ways.

Talk Therapy

Talk therapy, commonly known as psychotherapy, aims to help a person identify and change the troubling emotions, thoughts, and behaviors they are experiencing. When it comes to suicidal ideation, psychotherapy can help someone recognize and control suicidal thoughts. This treatment option can also be very effective in helping you treat any underlying condition triggering suicidal ideation.


There are many different medications available today that can help you to overcome suicidal thoughts. While this can be a great thing because it means that there are options available for people with different reactions, it can also mean that it may take some time and experimentation to find the most effective treatment for any given individual.

Hospital Care

A healthcare team may recommend hospital care if suicidal thoughts are common, long-lasting, and detailed. This treatment plan’s duration and exact nature will vary from person to person. There are, of course, other treatment options as well that can help treat suicidal ideation. These may include family therapy, education, substance use treatment, and lifestyle changes.

Knowing what treatments may be the most effective for you can be the most challenging part of creating a treatment plan, but you do not have to do it alone. A mental health care professional can help you incorporate many different treatment options into your treatment plan to get the right kind of help.

Where to Get Help

You can start your search for help and treatment by speaking with your healthcare provider. They will be able to refer you to a mental health professional or organization like Comprehensive Wellness Centers. You can find help and start figuring out the suitable treatment options for your needs.

If you need immediate help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to speak with a support person immediately.

Find Help for Suicidal Ideation

Suicidal ideation rarely gets better on its own. If you or someone you love are expressing suicidal thoughts or showing the symptoms listed above, please get the help you need. There are several treatment options for suicidal ideation, and a mental healthcare provider can help you determine the right treatment plan.

If you have suicidal thoughts or notice a loved one exhibiting the signs, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Comprehensive Wellness Centers to get the help you need.