Suicidal Ideation In Millennial Women Of Color
Life can be difficult. Work, dating, marriage, raising children, and losing loved ones. Sometimes, the pains of life can be so intense that an individual wants to do something harmful to end that pain.
But what happens before then? Are there signs that let us know someone is feeling this way?
The answer is yes. There are different signs, and it starts with suicidal ideation.
What Is Suicidal Ideation?
Suicidal ideation (suicidal ideation) is “when you think about killing yourself.” These thoughts can be active or passive.
I just don’t want to be here.
Life would be better for everyone if I didn’t exist.
I wish I could get away from it all.
I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up.
These are different statements that can be signs someone is having suicidal thoughts. Someone can say these statements but doesn’t see them as more than passing thoughts.
How can you tell the difference?
When it is a thought without a plan or intent to harm yourself, this is considered passive suicidal ideation.
Active suicidal ideation is when there is a plan and an intent to harm yourself. Thoughts can start as active, or they can be passive and become active.
Warning signs of suicidal ideation include:
- Statements such as the ones listed above
- Increase in substance use (alcohol or drugs)
- Isolation from family and friends
- Impulsive or reckless behavior
Warning signs of active suicidal ideation also include:
- Giving away valuable possessions
- Saying goodbye to family and friends
- Making a will or getting affairs in order
- Buying a weapon or collecting/saving pills
Many things can lead to suicidal ideation. Feeling trapped in a negative situation, having a family history of suicide, and hopelessness are all factors that can contribute to suicidal ideation.
The Pandemic And Suicidal Ideation
The pandemic created an unprecedented situation where there was a marked increase in people struggling with suicidal ideation.
Studies showed a decrease in completed suicides during the pandemic, but that does not mean people didn’t struggle with thoughts of suicide. You may have heard your family and friends talk about feeling hopeless and unsure about the future. Or that isolation was affecting their mental health.
People were feeling heavy emotions during the pandemic. BIPOC were at higher risk of being affected by COVID-19. People also recognized that their mental health was being affected and sought help. There was an increase in those seeking mental health treatment during the pandemic, as well as a collective effort to encourage others to seek help.
Barriers To Treatment
We can’t talk about seeking treatment without recognizing that there are barriers for certain populations. Some are specific to race and ethnicity, others are specific to location, and others include demographics such as age and gender.
Culturally Competent Care
Imagine yourself walking into a psychiatrist’s office, and the office staff looks nothing like you. How comfortable would you feel? Would you want to share that you are having suicidal thoughts?
What if they look nothing like you, but the care they provide makes you feel heard and understood? That is what a culturally competent mental health professional should do. Although the person may look different from you, the care they provide doesn’t make you feel different.
Although a growing number of BIPOCs are entering the field, the mental health field is still predominantly white. Culturally competent care is essential because the field is primarily white, but not everyone seeking help is white.
However, culturally competent care is relatively new to the healthcare field, so there is still a risk of harm or discrimination when seeking therapy.
With a history of BIPOC being mistreated or discriminated against in healthcare, there is a hesitancy to seek treatment. Both personal experiences and documented mistreatment contribute to the mistrust of healthcare professionals.
People pass these fears down from generation to generation. Although these fears are valid, you now have resources that allow you to research healthcare workers before seeking treatment. If a healthcare worker mistreats someone, the whole world can see it on social media.
Cost of Care
They say health is wealth. But it can feel like you have to be wealthy to have good health. Insufficient or lack of insurance, lack of community health options, and financial costs can prevent someone from seeking care.
There are other barriers to treatment, but these are some of the top reasons people do not seek help.
If there are barriers to treatment, is it even worth looking into?
Of course! Knowing these barriers keeps us informed to know what to look for when seeking treatment.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
There is no formal diagnosis for suicidal ideation. Suicidal ideation is, rather, a symptom of a mental health diagnosis, such as depression. However, a mental health professional can work with you if you have suicidal ideation to determine the best treatment options.
Treatment options include:
Safety planning. A safety plan includes information such as triggers for thoughts, resources, people to contact, and ways to make your home safer to remove options for harm. Someone with active and passive suicidal ideation can have a safety plan.
Talk therapy. Talking to a mental health professional can be helpful because they have the skills and tools to provide to help navigate through any suicidal ideation. They also can provide referrals to other resources if needed. Talk therapy is helpful for both active and passive suicidal ideation.
Medication. Medication can help with improving mood and reducing the frequency of suicidal ideation. A mental health professional will determine if medication is needed.
Hospital care. Hospital care is typically recommended for those actively in crisis and at risk of harming themselves. In the hospital, you will receive more intensive treatment. A mental health professional can determine if hospital care is needed, but if you choose to go yourself, the staff at the hospital will decide to admit you.
If you have suicidal ideation, there are treatment options available. Despite there being barriers to treatment, it’s possible to find the help you need.
If you are actively in crisis or you think you are having an emergency, call your primary care provider or local emergency services number immediately.
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