What is Passive Suicidal Ideation?

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The topic we’re discussing today is very sensitive, and it’s important to know that help is available.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of ending their life, please reach out for support. You can call the National Suicidal & Crisis Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433. You can also text 988. These helplines offer chat and phone support 24/7.

Life is full of challenges. Even those who seem mentally strong can feel anxious about not fitting in or facing challenging situations. That’s why never leave such people alone when you notice or hear someone wishing they weren’t born or yearning to die (even as a joke). They might be battling with passive suicidal ideation.

You might not be familiar with this term, so it might not sound serious. However, it’s a critical issue. No one can predict when passive thoughts can escalate into active suicidal attempts, the second most common cause of passing away among adults under 35 and those aged 13 to 14.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 700,000 people worldwide die from suicide. But this is just half the story, as these statistics don’t account for those at risk—people who struggle with passive thoughts of suicide.

What is Passive Suicidal Ideation?

There isn’t a definitive definition for passive suicidal ideation. However, experts describe it as a tendency to think about ending one’s life without an active plan or direct involvement. Yet, this doesn’t imply that it’s not serious; if left unaddressed, it can lead to tragic outcomes.

Sometimes people think about dying and have passive suicidal thoughts because of challenging situations, while others might experience it due to a mental health disorder. Furthermore, it can be daydreaming about death or pondering dying without making specific plans, and there might be nonverbal actions.

Signs of Passive Suicidal Ideation

Different symptoms, feelings, and thoughts can tell much about passive suicidal ideation. Here are some examples of passive suicidal ideation:

“I hope I get into a massive accident.”
“I can’t handle this anymore. I wish I could die.”
“I wish I wouldn’t wake up tomorrow.”
“I regret being born.”
“Nobody needs me. Everyone would be better off without me.”
“I am not worthy, I just want to die.”
“I don’t want to be present anymore.”

The line between passive and active suicidal ideation is blurred as, at any time, passive can turn into active, and it might not always be obvious. On the one hand, some people might exhibit thoughts of wanting to die. The others might not admit to having a plan or thinking about it. However, some warning signs can tell about the seriousness of passive suicidal ideation and whether or not it can be altered into an active act.

These include:

Giving away belongings.
Organizing personal affairs, including legal and financial matters.
Saying goodbye to loved ones.

However, no one can predict whether someone will take their own life. Even trained medical professionals can’t foresee it. That’s why it’s crucial to take any threats or mentions of suicide seriously.

Is Passive Suicidal Ideation Less Dangerous?

The mere talk about dying or feeling unworthy might seem less risky. But remember, overlooking them can be dangerous as you never know when intentions can change and a person can take action. Therefore, when you notice someone you care about is experiencing passive suicidal thoughts, seek help.

Generally, depression, loneliness, and anxiety make one have these thoughts. Studies show that the chances of suicide are greatly affected by a wish to die and the courage to harm oneself, and when both these thoughts coincide, a person may take the extreme life of taking their life.

Why Does It Happen?

There are no determiners that tell what causes passive or active suicidal ideation. Thoughts impact everyone differently. However, when someone struggles with thoughts of dying, the chances of losing a life increase.

The factors that can lead to dying thoughts in an individual include the following:

Family history, violence, neglect, and trauma.
After an individual identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community, no support is received from family.
Having a relationship or being friends with someone who has attempted suicide or has been successful
Feeling lonely, depressed, anxious, and secluded
Engaging in sale destructive behavior
Unavailability of mental illness care
Living with chronic illness without getting any treatment.
 Problems in life can be related to work, personal finances, or other things.
Grief
Challenging life situations
 Depression

This list is not the parameter to judge if someone struggles with suicidal thoughts. Everyone is unique, and no one size fits all.

Why individuals have such thoughts is still a mystery. As most people keep their thoughts to themselves and suffer in silence when things go beyond their control, they take such extreme steps.

Passive Suicidal Ideation vs. Active Suicidal Ideation

Although both Passive Suicidal Ideation and Active Suicidal Ideation involve thoughts about dying, they differ.

People with passive suicidal ideation don’t have a plan. However, they think and wish about dying or hope something terrible happens to them. It’s like closing my eyes, thinking no one can see me.

In contrast, active suicidal ideation is about planning and action. They don’t think of dying, instead they take action and try to end their lives as they have a specific plan.

This makes paying attention to passive and active suicidal thoughts a priority, even though passive thoughts might seem less urgent as there’s no immediate plan. However, passive thoughts can take a U-turn if there is no support and help. So, when you notice yourself or anyone else thinking or speaking aloud about wishing to die, take help from a mental health professional. There’s nothing wrong with seeking help and sharing feelings. Talk to someone you trust and let them know what you are feeling and going through.

Fact check: About 60% of those with “active thoughts” feel self-hatred or disgust, compared to 25% with “passive thoughts.”

When to Take Suicidal Ideation Seriously?

Just because you think someone is talking about dying just as a joke, ignoring it is incorrect. Sometimes people are shy to talk about their feelings; hence they use humor to hide them.

Therefore, when you sense something is wrong with your loved one, or they are distancing themselves from everyone and want to be left alone, pay attention. Whether a person is talking about passing away passively or actively, you must listen carefully and talk to them.

Also, you can talk to a therapist or take your loved one to a counselor. They can help find solutions to these problems. You can also call helpline numbers and speak directly to a crisis counselor.

Recognizing Suicidal Ideation in Others,

Determining if someone is having thoughts about dying is challenging. But if you know the signs to look for, you can support them and guide them to a therapist for assistance. If you notice your friend talking about wanting to die or researching ways to end their life, if they express feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and loneliness, if you see them using substances more, if their behavior or sleep patterns change, or if they’re involved in self-harm, it’s essential to pay attention and be there for them and take them to a therapist.

Why do people with passive thoughts of suicide hesitate to seek help?

People who have thoughts about dying often struggle to express their feelings. It’s difficult for them to describe their emotions and explain what’s happening inside them. Sometimes, they might downplay their feelings, thinking they aren’t severe enough or others won’t understand. Consequently, they choose to keep their genuine emotions concealed. Additionally, the fear of being judged if they tell their thoughts stops them from opening up. They also worry about being perceived differently by others.

Moreover, they tend to believe they’re not worth discussing unless their thoughts pose an immediate physical danger. They view their thoughts as their burden and hesitate to burden others.

Remember, even if these thoughts are not vocalized loudly, they are significant. If you know someone dealing with this, offering support and suggesting they talk to a professional can be immensely beneficial. Sharing feelings is far better than keeping them bottled up.

Tips for Dealing with These Thoughts

There isn’t a single solution for treating these thoughts. Both medication and therapy should be considered for the individual. Effective therapies include:

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
Integrated Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (I-CBT)
Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT)
Multisystemic Therapy (MST)

Studies show Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) helps minimize passive suicidal ideation thoughts. In addition, you can seek support through groups and call the helpline numbers to reach out for help. It will help you extensively.

1. Therapy:

If there is not imminent threat to life or you have noticed the sign at an early stage, therapy can assist. As listed above, standard therapy options can be used to treat passive suicidal thoughts. These therapies address depression, mood concerns and offer healthier coping strategies.

2. Medication:

If you believe medication could help enhance your mood and alleviate symptoms, it’s advisable to consult a psychiatrist. They can determine suitable medication and dosage for your needs. You can also discuss this with your regular doctor, although their training in this area might be limited.

3. Hospitalization:

This stage only comes when you have made an unsuccessful attempt or are involved in self-harm activities. When medication, therapy, and group sessions stop working, hospitalization is the only way to save the person. A hospital stay can facilitate your recovery and provide stability.

How to Support Someone Dealing with Passive Suicidal Thoughts

Even when you doubt someone is considering ending their life, it’s better to be there for them,  than to pass comments and criticize them. Here’s how you can help:

1. Listen Attentively and Be Present:

People who struggle with suicidal thoughts don’t need lectures or advice. They simply need someone who can support them and listen to them carefully without being judgmental. They want someone who can understand what they are going through. Your presence can make a lot of difference and make them feel valued. Do not make promises that you can’t keep. Also, if they ask you to keep it a secret, never make such a promise, as they might need professional help.

2. Encourage Therapy:

We can be there for people and support them, but we are not equipped to provide support & handle passive or active suicidal thoughts like a therapist. Therefore, rather than keeping their issue a secret, motivate them to talk to a therapist or a counselor. You can even suggest they join support groups and attend therapy sessions to help them deal with such negative thoughts promptly.

3. Stay Connected:

Never leave them isolated. Keep checking up on them so that they get the right support and care. If you notice their condition is worsening, if they’re talking about self-harm, or if they’ve engaged in harmful activities, take immediate action. You can take help from a suicide prevention helpline or a crisis center. Remove dangerous objects from their vicinity to prevent access to them.

Remember, your support can significantly impact their well-being. Your presence and care can make a difference in their life.

Say goodbye to Suicidal Thoughts.

The thoughts of ending life or feeling unworthy don’t just happen in a day. Different incidents and triggers make one think about dying. Therefore, it is best to pay attention to mental health. Always remember, you are not alone.

Even when you cannot recall or find someone, there are people who love and care for you. You can talk to them and seek their support during difficult times. Don’t hesitate to reach out to people you trust. You can talk to them or find groups to understand you and make you feel better.

Try to understand why you are having these thoughts. If you think things are not going well, there are many challenges, or you are not as successful, avoid comparing and being critical about yourself. Such thoughts can make you feel low and stressed. It’s better to talk to someone and appreciate yourself for small wins.

Moreover, you can find healthy ways to manage stress. You can start by doing activities like walking and talking to your friends. Also, if you’re dealing with depression and nothing seems to help, don’t wait to seek help.

Life is a precious gift. Enjoy it.

The post What is Passive Suicidal Ideation? appeared first on Calm Sage – Your Guide to Mental and Emotional Well-being.

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