Is Suicide Ideation a Big Deal? Throwback Thursday

This weeks Throwback Thursday, I’m posting it again because it is such an important subject. This was originally posted in October 2014.

suicide ideation

Suicide Ideation

I was on the bus the other day and began thinking how much I miss owning a car, which reminded me that I miss owning a home, which reminded me how much I miss having a job and all the good things (materialistic) that come with it. I became sadder as I thought of how long I’ve been on disability and that lead quickly into self-pity. I began thinking how hard life is and wondered if it’s worth it to continue. I then realized I should write an article about it. The entire incident lasted less than a minute. I was experiencing suicide ideation.

Hidden Behind The Smile

I’ve been depressed a lot lately. This may come as a surprise to friends and family because, on the surface, I’ve been smiling, conversing and generally looking “normal”. It doesn’t mean I haven’t had a good time, enjoyed some laughs and even enjoyed people’s company. I’m not experiencing the traditional, heavy, debilitating type of depression. Instead I have the feelings of depression floating underneath the surface of the skin, which manifests itself via ideation. Frequently, that is my first trigger that I’m feeling depressed.

The Definitions

Medical News Today describes suicidal ideation as a feeling people may have when they are no longer able to cope with an overwhelming situation… There may be a feeling of bleakness and an erroneous assumption that taking their own life might be the answer. If the individual’s mental state is heightened enough, suicide may seem to be the only exit.

Feeling unsatisfied with that definition, I decided to delve further and learned that much of my confusion is because there are two types of suicide ideation – active and passive. I found many definitions for these as well, but the most succinct comes from an unlikely source – Their definition is much more in line with my thinking. They say,

Passive ideation is when stressful events in life may drive a person to think, “I wish I were dead.” Fleeting thoughts, including wishful thinking, are considered passive because the thinker hasn’t acted on the thoughts.

This is what I’ve experienced most in my life. Usually too tired to think about taking action to kill myself, but wishing I could quietly curl up and die.

Active ideation as when someone has taken steps to end his own life. Taking action for the depressed person could include writing a suicide note, giving meaningful items away or just planning how to “end it all.

Why Is It Important?

As I was searching the net for these definitions I began to wonder why. Why was it so important for me to find a definition that suits me? Why was it so important for me to blog about? I gave it some thought and I understood. I was trying to find a way to minimize my suicidal thoughts as no big deal. I was wrong. It is a big deal.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians most patients who voice or admit to suicidal ideation when questioned do not go on to complete suicide. However, some of these patients will go on to commit suicide; thus, suicidal ideation warrants thorough evaluation.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve experienced active ideation, however, I experience passive ideation almost daily. I bring it up with my therapist and pdoc occasionally, but I think it’s time for me to take it more seriously and really have a good conversation about it. Will I have to learn to live with it, or is it something I need to work on? Hopefully, they can help me find those answers.

Getting Help

If you, or a loved one, is in a crisis state you should immediately call 911
An excellent resource during any stage of suicidal tendencies is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-9255. On their website you can choose to not call and chat with a counselor instead. Here is a link to their homepage:

13 comments on Is Suicide Ideation a Big Deal? Throwback Thursday

  1. Thank you for a personal and informative post. Suicide ideation – you feel like crap and thoughts persist and Creep in despite best efforts. But like you, you usually are adept at passing as normal self. Really liked the definitions you chose too. Xx

  2. This is such a good post, Bradley. I think it’s important for us to understand the difference between passive and active ideation. It doesn’t mean we’re crazy if we wish we weren’t here because of stress, disappointment… Moving beyond that and taking action to complete the act, like my only sibling/brother did, well, that’s of grave concern. If we could erase the stigma attached to suicide ideation, so that those who are moving to make it real, well, maybe more would call those suicide hotlines. This is a topic I, too, want to understand better. I’m so glad you’ve put this out here again. Thank you.

    1. I hate it too because I feel like I’m always being chased by a dragon. Even when I feel good and making a good sprint, I’m always aware he’s behind me.

  3. Thanks for this post, as a person that always seems to resort to suicidal thoughts, I found it informative to know of the two different categories. I learned that I very rarely have the passive ideation and seem to always grab onto the active. Thankfully with my recent adjustment to meds, I haven’t had those thoughts in a good couple months.

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