Suicidal Ideation

An anxious man sits on his bed.

Thoughts of suicide can arise in many different contexts and have many different implications. If someone expresses suicidal ideation it should be taken seriously every time. More intense suicidal ideation often necessitates taking action to protect someone’s safety, such as seeking crisis services at a hospital. If no immediate danger is present, safety plans are often put into place so that a person and their supporters know how to react to more imminent danger. A safety plan may involve reaching out to a loved one, a counselor, a hospital, or a hotline (such as The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255). A skilled mental health worker can help determine an appropriate level of action needed to respond to someone’s thoughts of suicide.

Some people can be dismissive when they hear others express a desire to die, dismissing the statements as “cries for help.” Even if this is true, it is still helpful to acknowledge that that person is asking for help and communicating a need for more support. Thinking about suicide can serve as a means of escape for some. When they feel stuck in their situation and do not see a viable way out, fantasizing about dying can actually serve as a relief to know that there is at least one option for escape, even if that option isn’t good.

If you have immediate concerns about yourself or a loved one and think immediate action is necessary, call 9-1-1 or the University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) Crisis Line (801-587-3000), or go to a local emergency room at a hospital.


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