Hopelessness can have a significant influence on daily life, as it may reflect an individual’s negative view of the future. Hopelessness can often lead to a person losing interest in important activities, events, or people. Someone who has become hopeless may no longer value things that were once important and may have no expectation of future improvement or success.
People experiencing hopelessness may make statements such as:
- Things will never get better.
- I am stuck.
- No one can help me.
- I feel like giving up.
- It is too late now.
- I am too tired to try.
- I will never be happy again.
Many people who experience hopelessness may also be affected by mental health issues. Feelings of hopelessness that occur with a condition such as depression may lead an individual to have thoughts of suicide.
Suicidal ideation means having ideas about taking your own life or hoping to die. Suicidal ideation may occur in people with clinical depression or bipolar disorder or it may happen to someone with no mental health diagnosis at all. And during the COVID pandemic, it is estimated that hopelessness and suicidal thoughts have been increasing.
There Are Two Kinds Of Suicidal Ideation: Passive And Active.
Passive suicidal ideation occurs when you wish you were dead or that you could die, but you don’t actually have any plans to commit suicide.
Active suicidal ideation, on the other hand, is not only thinking about it but having the intent to commit suicide, including planning how to do it.
Be aware that passive suicidal ideation, wishing that you could die in your sleep or in an accident rather than by your own hand, is not necessarily any less serious than active suicidal ideation. It can quickly turn active. Therefore it is important to share these thoughts, even just fleeting thoughts, of suicide with your therapist and create a safety plan to help you develop coping skills, confirm support people in your own social network, and have an awareness of severity to know when to seek immediate medical attention.
Suicidal ideation in teens is often caused by untreated depression or drug misuse and always needs to be taken seriously.
Suicidal thoughts and depression often have many causes. Social difficulties, stress, academic pressures, and other concerns facing teens may contribute to suicidal ideation.
Other Risk Factors Include:
- Poor social relationships
- Lack of family support
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Substance and alcohol misuse
- Health issues
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), during June 2020, U.S. adults reported considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions associated with COVID-19. Younger adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers reported having experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, increased substance use, and elevated suicidal ideation.
We can all help prevent suicide by learning the risk factors and warning signs, and by being alert to changes in our family, friends, and co-workers.
Trust your instincts if you notice differences in someone’s behavior. If they seem depressed, disengaged, or irritable, tell them you’ve noticed, and let them know what raises your concern. If someone isn’t sleeping or they seem agitated, are drinking more alcohol than usual, try to connect and be persistent.
Common Warning Signs
- Isolating yourself from your loved ones
- Feeling hopeless or trapped
- Talking about death or suicide
- Giving away possessions
- An increase in substance use or misuse
- Increased mood swings, anger, rage, and/or irritability
- Engaging in risk-taking behavior like using drugs or having unprotected sex
- Accessing the means to kill yourself, such as medication, drugs, or a firearm
- Acting as if you’re saying goodbye to people
- Feeling extremely anxious
Common Risk Factors
There are a variety of risk factors for suicidal ideation and suicide, including
- Having attempted suicide in the past
- Having a mental health disorder
- Feeling hopeless, isolated, and/or lonely
- Not being married
- Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender
- Having served in the military
- Having a chronic physical illness like cancer, diabetes, or a terminal disease
- Having chronic pain
- Having a traumatic brain injury
- Having a family history of suicide
- Having a drug or alcohol use disorder
- Having experienced childhood abuse or trauma
- Living in a rural area
According to the NIMH (2019), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and women attempt suicide more often than men, but men are successful about three to four times more often than women. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10- to 34-year-olds.
- Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, during which you work with a therapist to explore why you are feeling suicidal and how to cope.
- Teletherapy has become the most common way to conduct Psychotherapy during the COVID pandemic.
- Family therapy and education. Involving loved ones in treatment can help them better understand what you are going through, learn the warning signs, and improve family dynamics.
- Substance Abuse Counseling, if you are also experiencing an increase in alcohol or drug use.
- Lifestyle changes, including managing stress, improving sleep, eating, and exercise habits, building a solid support network, and making time for hobbies and interests.
- Medications to treat any underlying depression causing your suicidal ideation. This may include antidepressants, antipsychotic medications, or anti-anxiety medications.
If you start experiencing thoughts of suicide after taking an antidepressant, call your mental health care professional immediately. Some antidepressants have been linked to an increase in suicidal thoughts.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.
For non-crisis treatment, please contact our office to schedule a Teletherapy session, we do have available appointments and no waitlists.