Thinking about or planning to commit suicide is known as suicidal ideation.
The causes are not the same in each person. A person may be having problems coping with stress. They may also feel overwhelmed and hopeless. Or they may have a substance use problem or a mental illness.
Things that may raise the risk are mental health problems, such as:
No longer wanting to do daily activities, such as work and hobbies
Eating more or less
Sleeping too little or too much
Changes in the way a person looks, such as not brushing one's hair or teeth
Using more alcohol or drugs
Acting worried or restless or making choices quickly
Talking about feeling trapped or being in pain
The doctor will ask about your symptoms. You will also be asked about your physical and mental health history. The doctor may also ask your family questions. A mental health exam may be done to look for any other issues.
Treatment will be needed right away. A person may need to stay in a care center. Individual, family, or group therapy may be used to help manage unhelpful thinking.
The goals of treatment are to:
Care for any mental, physical, and substance use disorders
Teach family and friends how to offer support
Learn how to better solve problems and resolve conflict
To lower the risk of this problem:
Follow care plans for mental or physical health problems.
Get treated for any substance or alcohol use disorder.
Talk about problems with family members, friends, or a therapist.
Suicidal thoughts. American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy website. Available at: http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/Consumer_Updates/Suicidal_Thoughts.aspx. Accessed September 4, 2020.
Warning signs of suicide. Suicide Awareness Voices of Education site. Available at: https://save.org/about-suicide/warning-signs-risk-factors-protective-factors. Accessed September 4, 2020.
We can all prevent suicide. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website. Available at: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/how-we-can-all-prevent-suicide. Accessed September 4, 2020.
Last reviewed March 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 2/19/2021
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.