Passive suicidal ideation is something many of us will experience at some point in our lives, but it isn’t a topic often spoken about.
Passive suicidal ideation is described as thoughts focused on dying or feeling like you would be better off dead, without making any plans to complete suicide.
These types of thoughts are different to active suicidal ideation, in which someone would be active in plan making and have intentions to compete suicide.
Like most things mental health related, feeling suicidal is a spectrum, there may be times when your thoughts and feelings are much more intense and intrusive than others. There may also be periods when your ideation is more passive, and spells where you might tip into a more active ideation and you start making plans.
Suicidal ideation is almost always a symptom of a pre-existing mental health problem and should never be disregarded or considered trivial. It is important to remember that even passive ideation leaves you at serious risk of self harm. Furthermore, passive ideation, as we’ve already noted, can easily tip into active and in turn be imminently life threatening.
In 2020, the world health organisation estimated that one in every 100 deaths was as a result of suicide(2). In the UK specifically, 15.3 per 100,000 male deaths were due to suicide and 4.9 per 100,000 of female deaths(1).
It can be difficult to identify suicidal thinking in its more passive stages, things to look out for include:
- Believing other people would be better off without you
- Isolating yourself from friends and family
- Unexpected changes to your sleep
- Losing touch with your emotions, struggling to connect with your feelings, for example feeling indifferent when receiving bad news.
- Feeling empty, hopeless or like you just don’t want to carry on
- Increased use of alcohol, drugs or self harm
- Researching how to end your life
Passive suicidal ideation is absolutely something that needs medical intervention. Seeking help is a vital part of ensuring you remain as safe as possible while you struggle through a really difficult period in your life. For most people, this would be an initial visit to your GP along side confiding in a trusted confidant.
At Suicide Prevention UK, we have a dedicated team of call handlers who are trained to listen in your most difficult moments. We will always hold space for however your suicidal thoughts are showing up currently and will do our best to assist you to find the best support systems possible.