September is recognized as National Suicide Prevention Month. Suicidal Ideation (SI) means thinking about or planning suicide. Thoughts can range from a detailed plan to a fleeting consideration, but does not include the final act of suicide.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, most people who have suicidal thoughts do not carry them through to their conclusion. Causes of suicidal thoughts can include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma and substance abuse. People with a family history of mental illness are more likely to have suicidal thoughts.
While there are several symptoms to be mindful of, many people with SI keep their thoughts to themselves. This is often because they feel isolated, embarrassed or they do not feel as though anyone or anything can help. Individuals with depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder and those with substance abuse are at a much higher risk of SI.
Anyone who has suicidal thoughts should ask for help. If a loved one is having these thoughts, measures should be taken to help and protect them. Some of the treatments available include counseling, peer support groups and medications. As always, seek professional consultation. Your loved ones should be involved as well.
Mental health is a team effort. Those who are most successful, have a strong support system. With proper treatment, support and some time, SI can moderated and in some cases, overcome. Knowing you are not alone goes a long way in healing. See you all next month and take care of your minds.
"We believe that small steps save lives," said Lisa LaPorte, suicide prevention specialist with Headquarters Marine Corps’ Marine and Family Programs. “We focus on the small changes service members and their families can make, putting the emphasis on changing habits or practices for a safer life and home. We believe that everyone - leaders, service members and their network of support - has a role in supporting suicide prevention.”
The Veteran’s Crisis line is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.
For local resources, call the Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune, at 910-450-4300.
Editor’s note: Vance holds a MSW degree from Northwestern University and is a licensed mental health and substance abuse counselor. Facts not attributed are the opinions of the writer.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some common symptoms of Suicidial Ideation include but are not limited to the following:
• Talking about suicide — for example, making statements such as “I’m going to kill myself,” “I wish I were dead” or “I wish I hadn’t been born”
• Getting the means to take your own life, such as buying a gun or stockpiling pills
• Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone
• Having mood swings, such as being emotionally high one day and deeply discouraged the next
• Being preoccupied with death, dying or violence
• Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation
• Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
• Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns
• Doing risky or self-destructive things, such as using drugs or driving recklessly