First Aid Management: Suicidal Thoughts

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Suicidal Thoughts

Suicidal Thoughts

Suicidal thoughts are troubling thoughts that involve killing oneself. Suicidal thoughts are usually due to feelings of hopelessness in one’s life often from stressful life situations, which may be extra disturbing if accompanies by mental illnesses, depression, alcohol or substance abuse, or suicidal plans. When one or a friend has suicidal thoughts, call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as soon as possible. The number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). It is necessary to learn of the warning signs of suicidal thoughts and suicide, as one can save a life.

Doctors classify suicidal thoughts as either active or passive. Active suicidal thoughts involve a present desire and plan to die. On the other hand, suicidal thoughts can be passive when they involve a desire to die but has not made plans on how to take own life. It is common for people to have passive suicidal thoughts at one point in their lives. People with history of suicidal thoughts or attempts are likely to have suicidal thoughts. Suicidal thoughts are also called suicidal ideation.

According to Statistics Canada (2012), 3,890 were recorded to have committed suicide in 2009, as slight increase from the 3,705 the previous year. There has been a small increase, percentage-wise, in the number of people committing suicide from 2006-2009. However, statistics may be inaccurate as suicide is sometimes difficult to classify. Men are more likely to take their lives as compared to women.

Causes of Suicidal Thoughts

Suicidal thoughts often stem from feelings of hopelessness in one’s life. Common causes of suicidal thoughts include:

  • Depression
  • Sudden, unanticipatedand overwhelming change in life, usually negative
  • Mental disorders such as bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, etc.
  • Certain anxiety disorders such as, posttraumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, among others
  • Use of illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, etc.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Sleep deprivation

Signs and Symptoms of Suicidal Thoughts

Suicide often might feel like the only solution to a person’s pain and troubles. In some cases, a person may not even show signs and symptoms of suicidal thoughts. One must be wary for the following warning signs that may help determine when a person might be having suicidal thoughts:

  • Talking about suicide
  • Hopelessness or helplessness
  • Mood swings that may be in extremes (from very happy to deeply discouraged the next day)
  • Very down and depressed and incapable of feeling happy
  • Wanting to be alone and withdrawing from social contact
  • Personality changes
  • Sleep disturbances – inability to fall asleep or inability to remain asleep
  • Sleeping for prolonged periods of time
  • Rapid weight gain or weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Work or school performance may be affected
  • Increased alcohol or drug intake
  • Saying goodbye to persons

First Aid Management for Suicidal Thoughts

Treatment for depression, medical or anxiety disorders will be tailored according to the cause. Medications and professional help will be required. To learn how to manage individuals with suicidal thoughts, enrol in First Aid Courses.The following steps are recommended in cases of suicidal thoughts:

  • If one or someone you love has made a suicide attempt and is injured,
    • Call emergency medical services immediately.
    • If there is another person, have them call.
    • In case there is bleeding, follow first aid protocol on bleeding.
    • If no pulse and breathing is detected, initiate CPR.
  • If one or someone you love is having suicidal thoughts and is not injured,
    • Call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as soon as possible. The number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
    • Do not leave the person alone if you think your friend is in danger.
    • Avoid illegal drugs and alcohol.
    • Form a strong support system that may involve, family, friends, therapists, coaches and friends from place of worship.
  • If one suspects that a friend is having suicidal thoughts,
    • Be first and ask your friend if he/ she is thinking about suicide.
    • Do not judge and remain supportive.
    • Ask if there are any specific plans. Active suicidal thoughts are at greater risk for committing suicide.
    • Do not leave the person alone if you think your friend is in danger.
    • Call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as soon as possible, when one has suicidal thoughts,the number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


Edwards, Roxanne D. (ND).Suicidal Thoughts.WebMD. Retrieved September 29, 2013, from

Smith, Michael W. (2011). Suicidal Thoughts: Helping a Friend.WebMD. Retrieved September 29, 2013, from

Statistics Canada.(2012). Suicide and suicide rate, by sex and by age group.Government of Canada. Retrieved September 29, 2013, from

Suicide and suicidal thoughts.(2012). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved September 29, 2013, from

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