It can be hard to determine the severity of suicidal ideation in adolescents. Any thoughts of suicide should be taken seriously, but there is a distinction between passive and active suicidal ideation. Active and passive suicidal ideation are two distinct categories used to describe different levels of risk and intent associated with thoughts of suicide in adolescents (and individuals of all ages). Here’s the difference between the two:
Active Suicidal Ideation
Active suicidal ideation in adolescents is characterized by having a specific plan or intent to take one’s own life. It goes beyond mere thoughts and involves a clear intention to carry out self-harm. This is a critical distinction, as active suicidal ideation demands immediate attention and intervention from mental health professionals or support networks.
Active suicidal ideation factors include:
- Intent and Planning: Active suicidal ideation involves thoughts of suicide with a clear intent or desire to end one’s life. In this state, the individual may actively plan or have a specific intention to carry out a suicide attempt.
- Higher Risk: Active suicidal ideation is generally considered a higher-risk situation because there is a greater likelihood that the individual may take immediate action to harm themselves.
- Emergency: When someone is experiencing active suicidal ideation, it is typically considered an emergency, and immediate intervention is needed to ensure their safety. This may involve hospitalization or crisis intervention to prevent a suicide attempt.
Passive Suicidal Ideation
Passive suicidal ideation in adolescents involves thoughts of death or a desire to die without a specific plan or intent to act on these thoughts. Teens experiencing passive suicidal ideation may feel overwhelmed by the challenges they face, but they have not yet formulated concrete plans or taken steps toward self-harm. These thoughts can be distressing and intrusive, often causing significant emotional pain.
Passive suicidal ideation factors include:
- Lack of Intent: Passive suicidal ideation involves thoughts of death or suicide without a specific intent to act on these thoughts. Individuals with passive ideation may wish they were dead or think about what it would be like to die, but they may not have a concrete plan or desire to carry out self-harm.
- Lower Immediate Risk: While passive suicidal ideation is a concerning sign of emotional distress and should not be dismissed, it is generally considered to be at a lower immediate risk compared to active ideation.
- Still Serious: Passive suicidal ideation should not be taken lightly, as it can progress to active ideation, especially if the underlying issues causing the distress are not addressed. It is important to provide support and professional help for individuals with passive ideation to prevent escalation.
It’s essential for parents, caregivers, and mental health professionals to be vigilant and assess the severity and nature of a young person’s suicidal ideation. Both active and passive ideation require attention and intervention, but the urgency and type of intervention may vary. Regardless of the level of ideation, it is crucial to seek professional help promptly and provide emotional support to the adolescent. Encouraging open communication and expressing concern in a non-judgmental manner can be instrumental in helping adolescents who are struggling with suicidal thoughts.
Help For Children with Suicidal Thoughts
Embrace U was created to help young people aged 10 to 18 who are experiencing a mental health challenge. The foundation of Embrace U is the same evidence-based treatment that underpins all Psychiatric Medical Care programs. Therapy sessions for Embrace U participants provide education, skill development, medication management as needed, and peer support. A group of qualified, licensed professionals deliver all care.
If your child is showing signs that they are struggling with depression or suicidal ideation, Embrace U can help. Embrace U is an adolescent mental health clinic in Brentwood, TN. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your child overcome mental health struggles.
Supporting Adolescents Dealing with Suicidal Ideation
Understanding and addressing the problem of adolescent suicidal ideation is critical for parents. Suicidal ideation is used to describe the troubling thoughts, fantasies, or obsessions some adolescents may have about taking their own lives. It’s necessary to remember that just because a young person has these thoughts doesn’t mean they will necessarily act on them. Suicidal ideation has passive and active forms, which are two different points on a spectrum.
How Parents Can Help with Passive Suicidal Ideation:
- Open Communication: Provide your adolescent with a secure and nonjudgmental environment in which to express their emotions. Encourage them to communicate their feelings and thoughts to you.
- Seek Professional Assistance: It’s critical to speak with a mental health professional who can offer the necessary advice and support if you notice persistent indications of passive suicidal ideation.
- Maintain Constant Connection: Monitor your child’s well-being carefully. Keep in close contact with them and check in frequently to ensure they feel supported and cared for.
How Parents Can Help with Active Suicidal Ideation:
- Call for Help: Contact emergency services (911) or a crisis hotline (988) if you suspect that your child is experiencing active suicidal ideation.
- Make Their Home a Safe Space: Remove any potential threats, such as sharp objects or prescription medications, that could be used for self-harm from your home to keep it safe. Continually be there for your adolescent and offer unwavering emotional support. Encourage them to be open and honest about their thoughts and feelings.
- Seek Professional Help: Make contact with mental health experts who focus on adolescent mental health to get the necessary therapy and treatment.
Suicidal Ideation vs Intrusive Thoughts
Parents play a crucial role in helping adolescents navigate mental health challenges. It’s important to distinguish between thoughts of suicidal ideation and intrusive thoughts, as these are distinct experiences that young people may encounter.
Intrusive Thoughts in Adolescents
Intrusive thoughts are unwelcome, distressing, and often unsettling notions that spontaneously enter an adolescent’s mind. Intrusive thoughts can be about many different things, including self-harm. However, it’s essential to recognize that they are different from suicidal ideation.
Factors like ADHD can lead to more frequent occurrences of intrusive thoughts among adolescents. Managing attention and thought processes can be challenging for those with ADHD, potentially increasing the occurrence of intrusive thoughts. To provide effective support, it’s crucial to differentiate between intrusive thoughts related to ADHD and genuine suicidal ideation. When uncertainty arises, seeking professional guidance or consulting a mental health specialist can offer valuable clarity.
Potential Links Between ADHD and Passive Suicidal Ideation
While passive suicidal ideation is not exclusive to individuals with ADHD, there may be a connection between the two conditions. ADHD can contribute to emotional instability, impulsive behaviors, and difficulties in managing stress, all of which could lead to the emergence of passive suicidal thoughts in adolescents with ADHD. If your child has ADHD, it is important to recognize this connection and look for signs that your child may be struggling with passive suicidal ideation.
Connect with Embrace U Today for Assistance
As a parent, being able to understand the differences between passive and active suicidal ideation is vital to estimating the risk levels that your child may attempt to take their own life. If your child is struggling with these thoughts, seeking assistance from a mental health professional is vital. Remember that support is available, and embracing oneself entails taking the necessary steps to safeguard one’s well-being. You need not confront these challenges in solitude; with the proper guidance, a path toward healing and recovery can be found.
Embrace U adheres to the principle that giving your child medical attention shouldn’t come at the expense of their capacity for living. Adolescents learn coping mechanisms and methods to get past the signs of a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, through Embrace U. Our outpatient programs give teenagers access to a network of peers who can relate to their struggles. Licensed professionals and other parents offer support to parents.