Overcoming Suicidal Ideation: A Guide for Friends and Family

Suicidal ideation is the preoccupation with the idea of death where a person may regularly think or plan about the way they would commit suicide or have failed attempts. The major cause of suicidal ideation is unresolved psychological conflicts. Some symptoms that define suicidal ideation include Isolating oneself from loved ones, Feeling hopeless and helpless, obsessions with thoughts about death or suicide, engaging in risky behaviors like excess violence, drug use, risky sexual behaviors, dangerous driving, Access to the means to kill oneself, such as medication, drugs, or a firearm, inflicting self-harm in various ways like hunger strikes, self-cutting, inflicting pain, etc.

Suicidal ideations often lead to suicide intents which are thoughts of killing oneself with details of the plan fully or partially worked out. This is a reasonably open plan that is on various occasions made clearer by the person through utterances or failed attempts. It involves activities such as Taking pills, cutting, trying to hang oneself, took out pills but didn’t swallow any because a person changed their mind or someone took them from the person, collected pills, secured a means of obtaining a gun, gave away valuables, wrote a will or suicide note, etc.

Through these effective steps it can become easier to manage and support a person going through this battle:

  • Every uttered threat is true and should not be treated lightly- A suicide plan entails more than simply a reference to a particular method of harm and includes at least several of the following elements: timing, availability of method, setting, and actions made in furtherance of the plan (procuring a method, the setting, rehearsing the plan in any way). The more detailed and specific the suicide plan, the greater will be the level of risk. Access to suicide methods, particularly lethal methods, increases suicide risk and the possibility of the threat turning out to be true. Therefore every uttered threat should be explored extensively from the time it is mentioned while providing safety for the person.
  • Take away every possible time which can be used to harm- it is risky to leave individuals who have suicidal ideations alone especially when they are facing a crisis. For support and management, having someone around them or being in a social place where they can be managed lowers the risk levels. It can also be effective when past suicidal thoughts, plans, behaviors, and intent are assessed in comparison to current situations.
  • Use the highest level of emotional intelligence to be emphatic, sympathetic so that you can help them deal with their emotions. When the strengths of the individual are appreciated and vulnerabilities this helps normalize the ideations to a problem that can be solved. Further, a positive breakdown of coping skills, personality traits, thinking style, and developmental and psychological needs can help the person having the ideations understand their limitations and sources of the triggers.
  • Enroll the individuals for counseling to work with professional mental health care- this is of course the best approach to get the individual to have access to long-term recovery and healing process.
  • Support and management- when the individual is going through therapy you can support them through their low moments by helping them to reflect on what they went through during counseling sessions. You can also provide a safety plan in case of a crisis, assist with access to self-help notes that review coping activities, in case the emotional tidal does not end it’s always good to have access to their therapist for specialized help.
  • Once the depressive episodes lift, support individuals, to find meaning in life through training or learning a new skill, create hope in collaborative concrete and attainable goal-setting for the individual to be functional. Engagement in day-to-day activities is one way to return the allure in life, increase energy levels, and also serve as destruction from negative psychological situations.
  • Avoid having altercations’ with the individuals- be emphatic and kind to realize that the person may not have the mental capacity to deal with constant conflicts and emotional upsets. This kind of environment is risky for them as they only have one way for such a crisis which is death so this would be like a push to the grave. Therefore, it is good to maintain positive communication both verbal and non-verbal as you accept your obligation to translate to an ally for the person to recover and to find a positive environment.
  • Monitor the triggers to the suicide ideations- this can help the person recover quickly and engage in problem-solving focusing on the problems that triggered the most recent suicidal attempt. You can also analyze the cause of the suicidal ideations to help the person make good choices in response to bad feelings and their current environment.
  •  Seek good social systems of friends and family that can be supportive burgeoning research shows that culpability with parent and close friend increases strong social support systems that can help individuals cope with stressful life events in comparison to weak or lack of social support system. The support systems also serve as a protective factor that can decrease the probability of the emergence of maladaptive behaviors in risky cases and poor responses.

From biblical perspective

  • The unpardonable sin with concern to suicide is rejecting the Holy Spirit’s offer of salvation and dying in such a state of rejection. Hebrews 2:3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. When sin is confessed, God can deliver one from the demonic attacks sent by the enemy in his bid to hinder us from having the life that Jesus gave us on the cross in John 10:10 I have come so that they may have life in abundance.
  • Several cases of suicide in the Bible were triggered by unrepented sin, shedding of innocent blood, and disobedience to God.

 the case of Abimelech in Judges 9:50-57; Samson in Judges 16:28-30 (although some are not convinced this is suicide in the strict sense of the term); Saul and his armor-bearer in 1 Samuel 31:1-6 (2 Sam. 1:1-15; 1 Chron. 10:1-13); Ahithophel in 2 Samuel 17:23; Zimri in 1 Kings 16:18-19; and Judas Iscariot in Matthew 27:5. The remedy for all these is confession and forsaking ungodly ways that do not glorify God.

  • The plan of God is for you to have everlasting life through his son Jesus Christ or God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16) the plan of God is for you to live and not die until your appointed time known to him.
  • Pray with your pastor or strong Christian and trust in God’s deliverance Scripture promises: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Paul, who faced almost indescribable challenges (2 Corinthians 11:23–28), could proclaim, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

Jesus knows your pain. He has faced everything we face (Hebrews 4:15). He cried from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Now he is ready to help you. When Elijah despaired of his life and prayed, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life” (1 Kings 19:4 ESV), God provided the physical, spiritual, and emotional sustenance he needed to go on. When Jeremiah said, “Cursed be the day I was born!” (Jeremiah 20:14), God sustained this prophet.

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