What are Passive Suicidal Ideations and When is Treatment Needed?

passive suicidal ideations

What are Passive Suicidal Ideations and When is Treatment Needed?

Unfortunately, suicide is one of the leading causes of death in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 49,449 people died by suicide in 2022.[1] 

If you have ever struggled with a mental health condition, you might be familiar with the term “suicidal ideation.” Suicidal ideation is a broad term that describes contemplations, wishes, or a preoccupation with death and suicide.[2] For example, someone who constantly jokes about or thinks about harming themselves struggles with suicidal ideations.

People who deal with suicidal ideations often have plans for how they will complete it. However, individuals dealing with passive suicidal ideations do not have a plan made up. Still, people experiencing any type of suicidal ideations should receive professional support.

Understanding Passive Suicidal Ideations

Someone who experiences suicidal ideations is thinking about the idea of committing the act, without definitive behaviors that outwardly show their intentions. In other words, suicidal ideations are one step behind actually attempting suicide. However, many individuals also experience passive suicidal ideations, which are a preoccupation with suicide without planning out how to complete the act. 

Individuals who experience passive suicidal ideations might find themselves saying or thinking the following:

  • “I don’t want to live anymore”
  • “I can’t take this anymore”
  • “I hope someone crashes into my car”
  • “I hope I go to sleep and never wake up”
  • “I wish I was never born”
  • “Everyone would be better off without me”

It is important to note that passive suicidal ideations are not always expressed with words. Some people daydream about taking their own lives. To be clear, the main difference between active and passive suicidal ideation is whether you have made plans on how you want to follow through with suicide.

What Causes Passive Suicidal Ideations?

There is not one cause that can explain why passive suicidal ideations occur. Many different mental health conditions can lead to this pattern of thinking. Anyone predisposed to depressive episodes or unstable emotions can experience passive suicidal ideations. 

The common risk factors for suicidal thoughts include:[3]

  • A history of depression or mental illness 
  • Serious illnesses like chronic pain
  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies 
  • Current or prior traumatic experiences
  • Substance abuse 
  • Feeling hopeless 
  • Victimization or perpetration 
  • Job loss or financial issues 
  • Criminal or legal problems 
  • Experiencing bullying or isolation 
  • Relationship conflict or violence 
  • A personal or family history of suicide attempts 

If you have experienced one or several of the risk factors listed, that does not mean you will commit suicide. Risk factors only mean you are more likely to experience something than other people. By receiving proper support and treatment you can prevent yourself from experiencing passive suicidal ideation or learn to cope with your thoughts effectively.

What are the Warning Signs for Suicide?

Passive suicidal ideations are a clear sign that someone is at risk of committing suicide. However, there are other symptoms to be aware of that could indicate someone is struggling. Being aware of the warning signs of suicide can help you support a loved one before they attempt. 

The warning signs of suicide include:[4]

  • Making hopeless or helpless statements 
  • Overwhelming feelings of guilt or shame 
  • Dramatic changes in personality or appearance 
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits 
  • Declines in work or school performance 
  • Losing interest in previously important activities 
  • Writing, speaking, or joking about suicide 
  • Giving away possessions or a sudden interest in putting one’s affairs in order 
  • Suddenly seeming “at peace”
  • An increase in alcohol or drug use 
  • Social isolation or being withdrawn from friends and family 

If you or a loved one experiences the warning signs of suicide, it’s time to seek professional help. Oftentimes, people dealing with passive suicidal ideations believe that death is the only way out of their struggles with mental health. However, professional treatment like therapy and medication can help you learn to cope with your emotions healthily.

When Should You Seek Help?

If you are experiencing passive suicidal ideations, that is a clear sign that you require therapy and extra support. Because suicide is a common problem in America, you must seek support as soon as you experience suicidal thoughts or begin making plans. Leaving suicidal ideations untreated can lead to life-threatening and fatal attempts.

If you begin engaging in dangerous behaviors like reckless driving, substance abuse, or self-harm, you should reach out to a therapist or a mental health treatment program. Another sign that it is time to seek help is dealing with big changes or shifts in your moods.

Whether you are dealing with passive or active suicidal ideations, professional treatment is necessary. You should always take suicidal thoughts seriously and turn to experts for assistance to prevent yourself from attempting. 

Find Support for Passive Suicidal Ideations

If you or a loved one struggles with passive suicidal ideations, attending a mental health treatment program can be beneficial. By being fully immersed in a therapeutic environment, you can gain the tools and support you need to overcome suicidal thoughts and regain control over your emotions and life in general. 

To learn more about how our mental health treatment programs can support you, please contact Florida Recovery Group today. 


  1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Suicide Data and Statistics, Retrieved August 2023 From https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/suicide-data-statistics.html
  2. The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Suicidal Ideation, Retrieved August 2023 From https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33351435/
  3. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Risk and Protective Factors, Retrieved August 2023 From https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/factors/index.html
  4. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): Warning Signs of Suicide, Retrieved August 2023 From https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/warning-signs-of-suicide