How to Say It: Soo-uh-sid-ul I-de-a-shun
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Thinking about or planning to take one's own life is called suicidal ideation.
Suicide is often the result of many factors. These will differ from child to child. Many children are having problems coping with stress. They may feel overwhelmed and hopeless.
They may also have a mental health, problem such as depression. This can cause suicidal thoughts. It can also make stress much worse.
This problem is higher in children with:
Other things that may raise the risk are:
A child who is thinking about suicide may:
The child may also be:
You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and health history. Other people in the family may also be questioned. Physical and mental health exams may be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
Treatment is needed right away. A child may be treated in a hospital. This is mainly true if they are at high risk or have tried to take their own life.
Single, family, or group therapy will be used to help handle suicidal thoughts.
The goals of care are:
To lower a child's risk of suicidal ideation:
American Psychiatric Association
Mental Health America
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Canadian Mental Health Association
Depression in children and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
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Accessed November 20, 2020.
Harkavy-Friedman J. Learning more about suicidal ideation. National Alliance on Mental Illness website. Available at: https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/September-2017/Learning-More-About-Suicidal-Ideation. Accessed November 20, 2020.
Help for suicidal thoughts. NHS Choices website. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/suicide. Accessed September 4, 2020.
Victor SE, Klonsky ED. Correlates of suicide attempts among self-injuries: a meta analysis. Clin Psychol Rev. 2014;34(4):282-297.
Warning signs of suicide. Suicide Awareness Voices of Education site. Available at: https://save.org/about-suicide/warning-signs-risk-factors-protective-factors. Accessed November 20, 2020.
We can all prevent suicide. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website. Available at: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/how-we-can-all-prevent-suicide. Accessed November 20, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 4/16/2021