Suicidal Ideation | Overview & Treatment

If you, a loved one, or a family member are showing signs of suicidal ideation, you can call the 988 crisis line through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for immediate care. Long-term treatment options can help prevent future suicidal thoughts.

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Suicidal ideation is a range of emotions and feelings that include time-consuming thoughts of suicide and death. Suicidal ideation is a likely sign of extreme distress and a need for help.

While suicidal ideation is not an official mental health disorder, it can be a risk factor for suicide attempts and death by suicide. Many people who struggle with suicidal ideation also suffer from other mental health problems.

If you, a loved one, or a family member are showing signs of suicidal ideation, you can call the 988 crisis line through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Long-term treatment for suicidal ideation may involve treating underlying mental illnesses and learning about suicide prevention.

Suicidal Ideation Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

If you are suffering from major depression, bipolar disorder, or other mental illnesses and thinking about taking your own life, you can enroll in a residential mental health treatment plan at Bedrock Recovery Center.

Our mental and behavioral health rehab facility offers evidence-based treatment options such as cognitive behavioral therapy, medication management, family therapy, group therapy, and dual diagnosis treatment to restore your physical and mental health.

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Suicidal Ideation

Suicidal ideation involves constant suicidal thoughts. You may spend a significant amount of time thinking about death, despair, or taking your own life. However, you may not act on these feelings.

Suicidal ideation can be a symptom of major depressive disorder. It can also happen due to extreme distress caused by trauma or pain.

Suicidal ideation is separate from suicidal behavior (drug or alcohol abuse, self-harming) or suicide planning (selling possessions or collecting pills). However, these risk factors can occur at the same time before a suicide attempt.


Diagnosing suicidal ideation may involve talking to a psychiatrist. Your psychiatrist may ask you questions about self-harm, your mental health, and how often you think about taking your own life.

If your suicidal ideation is severe and you have a high-risk of harming yourself, you may be committed or referred to a mental health treatment center.

Warning Signs & Symptoms Of Suicidal Ideation

Signs and symptoms of suicidal ideation in yourself or a loved one may include:

  • talking about being a burden to others
  • talking about feelings of hopelessness or despair often
  • talking about feeling trapped
  • talking about death often
  • risky behavior, such as driving at high speeds
  • self-harm or talking about hurting yourself
  • buying a weapon
  • lack of interest in daily routines or hobbies
  • sleeping problems
  • selling or giving away possessions
  • mood swings

Some studies consider planning a suicide and self-harm as separate from suicidal ideation, while others may discuss them together.

Risk Factors For Suicidal Ideation

Risk factors for suicidal ideation may include trauma, severe mental illness, constant stressors in your life, chronic pain, and hearing about suicidal behavior from friends, family, or social media. Suicidal ideation can itself increase your risk of suicide.


Studies from 2013 to 2015 stated that about 4 percent of U.S. adults and 12 percent of U.S. adolescents experienced serious thoughts of suicide in the past 12 months. About one third of adolescents who dealt with suicidal ideation planned and attempted a suicide at a later date.

These numbers have likely changed since the studies were published. However, we know that about 46 percent of suicide victims had a preexisting mental health condition, such as major depression.

Treating Suicidal Ideation

Treating suicidal ideation likely involves treating underlying causes. You can also support, listen to, and follow up with your family members and loved ones while looking for mental health treatment.


Medication may sometimes be prescribed to treat underlying mental illnesses linked to suicidal ideation. Appropriate medication may include antidepressants for major depression and mood stabilizers for bipolar disorder.


Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, can help you understand why suicidal thoughts occur and how to avoid them in the future. Psychotherapy is essential in learning effective coping skills and improving your long-term mental health.

Effective forms of psychotherapy for managing suicidal ideation include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), both offered by Bedrock Recovery Center.

Other Treatment Options

Other treatment options for suicidal ideation include:

How To Find Suicidal Ideation Treatment

You can call the 24/7 988 hotline for immediate support, resources, and referrals to treatment. Long-term treatment options can reduce your risk of suicide over time.

Reach Out To Local Treatment Providers

Local treatment providers such as Bedrock Recovery Center provide assessments, potential treatment plans, and payment assistance options. You can contact treatment providers by using search engines, treatment locators, or information on your addiction recovery board.

PCP Or Family Care Physician

Your primary care physician (PCP) can refer you to mental health treatment providers according to your individual needs. Family physicians can perform similar services for your family members.


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hosts suicide prevention resources, 24/7 crisis helplines, treatment locators, and other behavioral health services.

For information on our evidence-based mental health treatment plans, please contact us today.

  1. American Psychiatric Association
  2. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  3. National Library of Medicine: StatPearls

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: January 8, 2024

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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