Learn About The Symptoms & Causes of Suicidal Ideation

Many individuals struggling with mental health disorders are often times dealing with suicidal ideation. Crestwyn offers treatment for suicidal ideation in a safe and healing environment.

Understanding More About Suicidal Ideation

Suicidal ideation refers to the presence of pervasive thoughts about ending one’s own life. The existence of such thoughts can range in severity from fleeting considerations to the devising of intricate plans as to how one would go about ending his or her own life. The presence of suicidal ideation, while devastating, does not mean that a person will follow through on his or her thoughts and actually attempt suicide. Yet there always exists the possibility that an individual will cross the fine line between thoughts and action. For this reason, it is imperative that individuals who are plagued by thoughts of suicide receive treatment as early as possible so as to prevent such a tragic outcome.


It is impossible to accurately decipher the true prevalence of suicidal ideation, as this is not something that is visible or always discussed. However, there has been much research conducted on the prevalence of suicidal behaviors, which can be the devastating result of prolonged suicidal ideation. Among children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death. Among young people between the ages of 15 and 25, it is the third leading cause of death, for adults between the ages of 25 and 34, it is the second, and for those between the ages of 25 and 54, it is the fourth leading of cause of death.

Causes and Risk Factors for Suicidal Ideation

Many researchers have concluded that the risk of suicidal ideation is the result of a combination of a person’s genetic makeup, family background, certain environmental elements, and other possible risk factors. These factors are outlined briefly in the following:

Genetic: While one’s risk suicidal ideation itself is not genetic, the mental health conditions of which suicidal thoughts can be symptomatic may be hereditary in nature. Conditions such as bipolar disorder and depressive disorders are known to elicit thoughts of suicide, and the development of these disorders can occur when an individual possesses a genetic predisposition for them.

Environmental: Certain environmental factors can greatly impact the development of suicidal ideation. Being the victim of bullying, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect can all serve to greatly decrease a person’s self-esteem and feelings of self-worth, potentially eliciting thoughts of wanting to end his or her own life. Additionally, being the victim of such travesties can also cause individuals to imagine putting an end to their pain and suffering, which could elicit the onset of suicidal thoughts and behaviors as well.

Risk Factors:

  • Personal history of mental illness
  • Family history of depressive disorders, bipolar disorder, or other types of mental illness
  • Being the victim of bullying
  • Being the victim of abuse and/or neglect
  • Lacking a healthy support system
  • Personal or family history of substance abuse
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Having a friend or loved one commit suicide

Signs and Symptoms of Suicidal Ideation

When individuals are suffering from suicidal ideation, it is not always obvious to those around them. Yet there are some psychosocial, cognitive, physical, and behavioral symptoms that may arise that could indicate that such thoughts are plaguing a person. As such, it is important to take note of these possible warning signs should one suspect that someone in his or her life is struggling with suicidal ideation:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Engaging in self-harm or otherwise reckless behaviors
  • No longer participating in activities or hobbies that one once enjoyed
  • Giving away one’s possessions
  • Talking or writing about death
  • Drafting suicide notes
  • Isolating oneself
  • Chronic absences from work or school
  • Abusing drugs and/or alcohol

Physical symptoms:

  • Panic attacks
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Hypersomnia or insomnia
  • Injuries that result from self-injury
  • Changes in one’s physical appearance, such as no longer caring about how one looks or suddenly lacking proper hygiene
  • Decline in the ability to experience pleasure

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Chronic, invasive, and unwanted thoughts about death
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Memory impairment

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Periods of emotional detachment
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Irritability

Effects of Suicidal Ideation

Ongoing suicidal ideation has the potential to cause significant detriments in the lives of individuals who are plagued by these intrusive thoughts. Examples of such detriments can include:

  • Social withdrawal and isolation, potentially resulting in family discord, marital strife, and other disturbances within important relationships and friendships
  • Decline in academic or occupational performance, potentially resulting in academic failure or job loss
  • Deteriorating self-esteem, leading to worsening of self-destructive thoughts and behaviors
  • Making attempts at suicide
  • Beginning to abuse drugs and/or alcohol, possibly resulting in the development of an addiction

Additionally, the longer that individuals continue to suffer from suicidal ideation, the more likely they are to begin engaging in self-harming behaviors. This can result in many different types of physical trauma. Depending on the particular means of self-harm that one engages in, the following effects may occur:

  • Permanent scarring
  • Hemorrhaging
  • Tissue damage
  • Broken bones
  • Paralysis
  • Brain damage
  • Damage to vital organs
  • Organ failure
  • Unintentional death

Co-Occurring Disorders

When an individual is suffering from ongoing thoughts of wanting to end his or her life, it is likely that he or she is suffering from a mental health disorder that has caused the onset of such thoughts. Some of the most common mental health conditions that are associated with the presence of suicidal ideation as a symptom include:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Eating disorders
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Substance use disorders

This was the best place I could have ever chosen to go get help at! Unlike other behavioral health places in the Memphis area, Crestwyn is a very nice facility staffed with the kindest and most helpful people ever!

– Former Patient