When to Ask For Help: Ideation vs Action

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please call for help
Emergency Services
911 (US & Canada)
000/ 112 on cell phones (AU)
112/999 (EU)
120 (China)
National Suicide Prevention Hotline(US)

If you’ve been dealing with depression for a very long time, than you know what it feels like to want to die. You’ve probably thought about it more than once. That it would be an end to the seemingly endless pain and suffering you experience on a daily basis. Thinking about it, while it is certainly not good, is drastically different from planning or acting on it. These thoughts may seem harmless enough to you, especially if you’ve been experiencing them multiple times a day as I had (before I started medication). To those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about, this idea might seem incredibly scary. The truth is that when you live in such a depressed state, you get used to the thoughts that come with it. They can even be comforting to a point that you become anxious when you don’t experience them.

However, this is often a very slippery slope that we tread. The constant barrage of thoughts that desire death, passive or otherwise, can quickly become a dangerous situation. For those of you that don’t know, passive suicidal ideation can be classified as thoughts of wanting to die, but not at your own hands. Meaning the thought of wanting to be hit by a garbage truck on your way to work is a passive suicidal ideation. You want to die, but you don’t want to kill yourself. These type of thoughts can very quickly escalate to active suicidal planning if you’re not careful. For those of us that experience any type of suicidal ideation, here are a few warning signs that may mean it’s time to reach out for more serious help.

Losing Enjoyment

If you have a hobby, or anything that you really enjoy doing, depression can make this list incredibly smaller. As any and every action takes an enormous amount of energy. So that thing you loved doing, now becomes a chore. However, I’ve found that even at my lowest points, I would always grasp onto at least one thing I still liked doing, that depression didn’t take away from me. However, if that single refuge of joy also becomes a daunting task, it is not a good sign. As I’ve said, depression will take the enjoyment out of almost everything, but if you feel like you’ve lost everything, then you’re headed towards a very dark place. The scariest part of this, is that it doesn’t happen quickly. It takes days, months, even years to lose everything that brings you joy. So it takes an incredible amount of vigilance to keep a watchful eye for when depression is taking over. Because without anything to live for, living becomes that much more insatiable.


As I’ve mentioned before in other posts, the act of isolating yourself, if used effectively, can actually be a de-stressing activity. It’s when you completely fall off the map, that it becomes a problem. If you get to the point that you do not want to do anything, or be around anyone for a long time, it takes this sometimes positive act and makes it very malicious. You begin to spend too much time in your own head, which we all know, is never a good thing. You’ll begin to become more and more anxious about your friends leaving you because you’re too much work. You’ll start to think that you are meaningless, and a waste of space. This will all just snowball until you can’t take it anymore and let the depression envelop you. This is definitely the time to reach out to someone, anyone, and get some help. If you get to this point, you will be teetering the line between life and death. Being in that place can only make things worse, so it’s best to act while you still have rational thought.

Acquiring Means

If you’ve gotten to this point, it means that you were unable stop yourself at the prior two. This is by far the most dangerous step of mental deterioration that you can reach. It means that you are actively planning a suicide attempt, whether you acknowledge that fact or not. You’ve begun to look at items on the store shelf, thinking that that would be useful to kill yourself with. You start looking at live improving medications in your cupboard the same way. You start thinking that tree you past would definitely be enough if you hit it fast enough. Whether you’re stockpiling, or looking at things you already have, the prognosis is grim. The pain has accumulated in your body with no other way to expel it. If you are feeling any of these, it is best to seek out immediate help. As you, before you know it, could be looking down the barrel of a literal gun rather than a proverbial one.

Reaching out for help if you’re feeling this way is not a sign of weakness, you’re not giving up. I want to be very clear about that. It’s just that the load you’ve been carrying on your back has become too heavy, your muscles are giving out. You need help, it’s not really a question of wanting it at this point. Take it from someone who has been in your position and gone through with it; you may not be happy to be alive, but you will be someday.

Let’s give each other a helping hand, and if you know someone who needs help, let them know you care. Just that small action could make someone’s day, and it may even save their life.

If you have anything to add, leave a comment, and let’s make sure that those who need it, know that the pain they feel, will someday end.

Photo Credit: Unsplash: Benjamin Lambert

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