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Suicide Prevention Awareness | Top 5 Suicide Questions Answered

Published by Courtney Hall

There are many questions we ask ourselves about suicide.  The biggest question for families and loved ones left behind by someone who commits suicide is always, “WHY?”
Why would they do that? How could I have prevented it?  The only real way to prevent it is to learn more and stand ready to walk our loved ones away from the point of no return. Here are our top 5 suicide questions, answered.

What is suicidal ideation?

Suicidal ideation, also known as suicidal thoughts, is thinking about, considering, or planning suicide. The range of suicidal ideation varies from fleeting thoughts to extensive thoughts, to detailed planning.

Most people who have suicidal thoughts do not go on to make suicide attempts, but suicidal thoughts are considered a risk factor. During 2008–09, an estimated 8.3 million adults aged 18 and over in the United States, or 3.7% of the adult U.S. population, reported having suicidal thoughts in the previous year. An estimated 2.2 million in the U.S. reported having made suicide plans in 2014. Suicidal thoughts are also common among teenagers.

Suicidal ideation is generally associated with depression and other mood disorders; however, it seems to have associations with many other mental disorders, life events, and family events, all of which may increase the risk of suicidal ideation. Currently, there are a number of treatment options for those experiencing suicidal ideation. [source: wikipedia]


What are some causes of suicidal thoughts?

Suicidal thoughts are often the root source where the thought of “no other way out” is present.  The truth couldn’t be farther from that.  In life, we all have a “blindside” where we can’t see things as they truly are because we, ourselves, have a skewed view of where we are in our lives or what should be.  Wherever the words “should be” are found, there’s always an unmet expectation, which turns to upset.  Remove the word “should” from your vocabulary!  Suicide, the enemy, doesn’t hit you all at once.  No, he pecks away day-by-day, slowly but surely until you’re lost in the woods with “no way out.”  But, there’s hope on the way, read on!


How does one deal with loneliness and suicidal thoughts?

To first understand a suicidal thought, you need to know its mechanisms.  In this instance, the mechanism, being lonely, is playing a part in the suicidal thought.  Loneliness is derived from a social or intimate situation whereas the suicidal thoughts bring humans to a point of “no-way-out” or “being trapped” within that loneliness.  Doing some quick research, Psychotherapist Mike Leary (M.Ed. in Clinical Psychology & SociologyWichita State University) has broken down suicidal thoughts into what he calls the “Wheel of Life“.

Eight items, each as a spoke in a wagon wheel. The person would rate each quality on a numerical value of 0 to 10, representing how well that item functioned in their life. 10 being excellent, out to the rim. We would put a dot on the spoke indicating how well that particular quality was operating at that time in their life. – Mike Leary

The “Wheel of Life”

The Spokes

  1. Work – is about being productive It is what you do for society, that society pays you for.
  2. Intimate – is about being vulnerable and loving.
  3. Learning – is about your intelligence.
  4. Creative – Is about using your talent.
  5. Social – is about being popular.
  6. Physical – is about your health.
  7. Community: is about being responsible.
  8. Play: is about having fun.

The Rim and Tire.

These are where you use the resources of time, energy, money, and affiliations.


This is what keeps it all together, rather like the glue. It is who we believe we are. Our meaning in life, our purpose. It also creates our compelling future, why we get up in the morning, why bother with anything. This is our spiritual center, what we believe is our truth as to what it is all about. It feeds meaning to the spokes.

No one can take your belief from you; you have to give it away. Your spokes, on the other hand, can be taken from you against your will. You can lose your job or your health. When people have a deep sense of who they are, they realize the event is a predicament or situation they are dealing with.

You can lose a number of spokes and if your hub is okay, then you can weather it through. But if you lose the hub, then the whole thing (life) falls apart.

Mike Leary asks his clients to rate the “spokes,” “rim & tire” and the “hub” to assess where his client sees each area of their life.  Often the subject is “lost in the woods” and just can’t see a way out.  By breaking these aspects down, his clients are able to start seeing their way out of the woods. [Mike Leary]

I highly encourage that you read his entire answer to this question on Quora, here!

Once broken down, loneliness and suicidal thoughts are not simply a mechanism of being alone.  One must break down multiple areas of life and upon doing so, you can then begin to create a roadmap to happy days.  It’s no different than if you were lost without a map.  The “Wheel of Life” and the “Hub” are great tools to start seeing your way out of the woods!


I have suicidal thoughts. May I talk to someone?

We all know it’s cliche, but you need to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline. There have been tons of resources dedicated to helping people with suicidal thoughts, turn the corner.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Para español, llame al 1-888-628-9454.


What are some good suicide prevention resources?

  • Mental Health America provides a wealth of information, including online support groups for specific needs. They can also steer you toward groups in your area.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available around the clock to help you when you’re in crisis. Hotline: 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255).
  • Daily Strength connects people with common issues for mutual support.
  • Boys Town has a 24/7 crisis line for teens and parents, staffed by trained counselors. Hotline: 800-448-3000.
  • Childhelp offers support for child and adult survivors of abuse. Call the hotline 24/7: 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453).
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a confidential Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator and a 24/7 hotline: 800-662-HELP (800-662-4357).

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is September!

If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.

Suicidal thoughts, much like mental health conditions, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. In fact, suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition. Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues.

Every year thousands of individuals die by suicide,  leaving behind their friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of loss. In many cases, friends and families affected by a suicide loss (often called “suicide loss survivors”) are left in the dark. Too often the feelings of shame and stigma prevent them from talking openly.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month—a time to share resources and stories in an effort to shed light on this highly taboo and stigmatized topic. We use this month to reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services. It is also important to ensure that individuals, friends and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention. NAMI is here to help.

Informational Resources

Crisis Resources

  • If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately.
  • If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255)
  • If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.

Awareness Resources

Help promote awareness by sharing images and graphics on your website and social media accounts. Use #SuicidePrevention or #StigmaFree.

While suicide prevention is important to address year-round, Suicide Prevention Awareness Month provides a dedicated time to come together with collective passion and strength around a difficult topic. The truth is, we can all benefit from honest conversations about mental health conditions and suicide because just one conversation can change a life.

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