Suicidal thoughts, or suicide ideation, refers to thinking about or planning suicide. Thoughts can range from creating a detailed plan to having a fleeting consideration. It does not include the final act of suicide.

Many people experience suicidal thoughts, especially during times of stress or when they are facing mental or physical health challenges.
Suicidal thoughts are a symptom of an underlying problem. Treatment is effective in many cases, but the first step is to ask for help.
If a loved one is having these thoughts or talking about suicide, it is essential to take action to help and protect them.


A person who experiences or could experience suicidal thoughts may show the following signs or symptoms:

  • feeling or appearing to feel trapped or hopeless
  • feeling intolerable emotional pain
  • being preoccupied with violence, dying, or death
  • having mood shifts, either happy or sad
  • talking about revenge, guilt, or shame
  • experiencing agitation or a heightened state of anxiety
  • experiencing changes in personality, routine, or sleep patterns
  • increasing the use of drugs or alcohol
  • engaging in risky behavior, such as driving carelessly or taking drugs
  • getting their affairs in order and giving things away
  • getting hold of a gun or substances that could end a life
  • experiencing depression, panic attacks, or impaired concentration
  • isolating themselves
  • talking about being a burden to others
  • experiencing psychomotor agitation, such as pacing or wringing the hands
  • saying goodbye to others as though it were the last time
  • experiencing a loss of enjoyment in previously pleasurable activities, such as eating, exercise, social interaction, or sex
  • expressing severe remorse and self-criticism
  • talking about suicide or dying
  • expressing regret about being alive or ever having been born