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Mental Mondays: What Is Suicidal Ideation + 5 Ways To Combat The Intrusive Thoughts

Mental Mondays: What Is Suicidal Ideation + 5 Ways To Combat The Intrusive Thoughts



ho will miss me when I’m gone? Oh dear, I’m too scared of the uncertainty of the afterlife. I’m sure they’ll all gnash their teeth when I’m no longer a burden. They don’t rate me anyways. But life could still turn for the better for me, who knows?” Sometimes intrusive thoughts can get the better part of you, and it’s a matter of time before you step out of character — doing things you’ll typically not do, and becoming more restless and emotional with your reactions. These thoughts include suicidal ones that nag at your sanity, threatening to rip it apart in unreconcilable pieces.

Sometimes suicide ideation goes away on its own, other times there has to be a conscious effort to send it off and mental balance restored. Too often, we may have gotten to the point where thoughts of dying envelop us like it’s trying to dribble the ball of life off our grip. We all experience this differently, and that’s why what we do at this time determines how we move on — if we move on at all.

What is suicidal ideation?

This is a state of being engrossed with intrusive thoughts of dying. While a person can go through with these thoughts, there’s a probability that others won’t. It ranges from a well-laid-out suicide plan to transient thoughts. Suicidal ideation could be due to an underlying mental illness or an unhealthy coping reaction to stress.

Causes of suicidal ideation

• An underlying mental illness
• Major life stressors; like the loss of a loved one or financial problems.
• Genetics
• Loneliness
• Possessing weapons
• Knowing a loved one who committed suicide

Signs to look out for in a loved one

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Here are some suicidal ideation signs to look out for when helping a loved one:

• Irrational outbursts, especially if this is unusual of them.
• Isolation: They start avoiding friends and family, and would rather be alone most times. They sleep more and might appear calmer than usual.
• If they keep saying, “I feel like a burden to you guys. You have done so much for me, I’m tired of throwing all my weight on you” or anything that insinuates they are tired of troubling you or any loved one.

• When dealing with suicidal ideation, a loved one might lean on substances to escape their troubling reality.
• If they start giving away important properties, this may be a major sign.
• Taking unnecessary risks: The mental battle for life in a person’s mind can lead to taking risks. You could notice reckless driving, avoiding the pedestrian bridge or zebra crossing when crossing the highway, or drug abuse.

Quick advice: Bring the matter up with them, not in a judgemental way, but in a way that shows they are noticed and loved. Do not avoid the topic.

Check out 5 solid ways to deal with suicide ideation, whether passive or active…

#1. Know your triggers

Photo: Marie-Ève Beaulieu/Pexels

When you know what encourages these suicidal thoughts, it’s easier to build systems to ensure you don’t experience these triggers. For some, it could be stress, and if that’s you, know your limits. Ensure you take on just as much. Don’t overestimate your ability to endure stress, but find a way to avoid the triggers in the first place.

#2. Avoid drug dependency

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As humans, when suicidal ideation hits, we tend to cope with drugs. Being aware of the toxicity of drugs — alcohol inclusive — can help put things in perspective. Understanding healthier coping mechanisms is the best way to combat these suicidal thoughts. It’s easier to make beneficial decisions when your senses are intact.

#3. Plot out an impregnable space ahead of time

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It’s a blessing to have a safe haven where you can crawl when the tides of life seem unbearably forceful. It could be a person who gets you, or a physical space you hide when the weight becomes too much for your weary shoulders. When you feel overwhelmed, find a space void of harmful objects. This is usually a place set aside for moments when these thoughts seem to have the better part of you. This can also include speaking to your therapist (if you already have one).

#4. Try relaxing

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The mere sound of a person asking you to relax could be triggering, but hear me out. When suicidal ideation hits, it spikes anxiety, and if we can take time out to do the things we love, we might find some peace. Practicing mindfulness, listening to soothing music, or watching a movie can be helpful in these situations. These activities could be why staying alive is still worth it.

#5. See a therapist (treat as urgent)!

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A person struggling with suicidal ideation might be under recurrent pain that blurs out a rational perspective. This makes it hard to think up obvious solutions, as their minds are in distress. A therapist is trained to help you deal with stress, tackle toxic thoughts, and build emotional and mental stamina. They tackle the issues from the root and help you recognize your triggers and ways to avoid them. Also, having someone to speak to without fear of judgment is a helpful way to combat these intrusive thoughts.

Featured image: tommaso/iStock

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