What is Passive Suicidal Ideation?

Passive suicidal ideation occurs when an individual has thoughts about death but does not actually make plans that include self-harm. In other words, a person may wish to be dead without taking action. For example, a person may dream about never waking up. Even though no plans are made for suicide, a person may still participate in risky behavior that can lead to harm.

Passive ideation may manifest as an intangible ache or episode of depression. Also, a person may feel lonely and hopeless. At Florida Center for Recovery, we understand that this is a psychological condition that requires treatment. Our staff is ready to help any individual who is battling depression or passive suicidal tendencies in addition to substance abuse.

Recognizing Depression Signs Through a Passive Suicidal State

In fact, many people who experience suicidal ideations give warning signals of depression. Therefore, it is important to pay attention and to try to help a person who exhibits signs.

  • Paranoia
  • Mood swings
  • Severe agitation
  • Change in eating habits
  • Preoccupation with death
  • Heightened risky behavior
  • Scars from past suicide attempts
  • Withdrawal from pleasurable activities
  • Giving away prized possessions

Causes of Passive Suicidal Ideation

Indeed, there are certain causes of passive suicidal thoughts. For example, an individual may have a general predisposition for this condition. In other words, being born into a family with a history of mental illness increases a person’s risk of experiencing suicidal tendencies. This includes passive suicidal ideation.

Also, scientists believe that having low levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain can heighten the likelihood of developing suicidal thoughts and behaviors. A person’s environment plays a role as well. An individual who experiences repeated stressful life events is most likely to have suicidal ideation.

Passive Suicidal Ideation vs. Active Suicidal Ideation

Active suicidal ideation occurs when a person has suicidal thoughts and develops a plan to follow through with them. On the other hand, passive suicidal ideation includes suicidal thoughts without action. In fact, scientists believe that suicidal thoughts exist on a spectrum. For example, a person may merely feel helpless and wish negative experiences on himself or herself. Others may have an indifference with life and make plans to commit suicide.

When Does Passive Suicidal Ideation Become Active Suicidal Ideation?

Since passive suicidal ideation does not include action, many people believe that there is little risk of harm. However, this is far from the truth. In fact, a passive ideation situation may turn active without warning. This is especially true when something triggers mental health issues, including the loss of a loved one or a severe illness. Therefore, if a person suspects that a loved one has this condition, it is advised to get him or her professional help.

How to Measure the Risks of Suicide

A few clinical interviews and studies may help to measure the risks of suicide. For example, there is the Scale for Suicidal Ideation. Also, the Beck Depression Inventory-II is a helpful way of measuring risks. Although all of these consider unique factors, there are a few key risks that are assessed by both.

  • Risk Factors: Illness, trauma, and history of mental health are just a few risk factors that are important parts of a person’s mental stability.
  • Protective Factors: Having a means of protection lowers the risks of suicide. For example, having a safe and stable home environment, close friends and family, and fun hobbies can keep a person away from suicide.
  • Thoughts and Plans: If a person has had thoughts of suicide in the past, it signals a problem that may affect the future.
  • Warning Signs: Emotional distress, talk of suicide, and hopelessness can all signal problems.

Treatment for Passive Suicidal Tendencies

Passive suicidal thoughts indicate that a person is experiencing feelings of unhappiness. This means that it has a negative impact on his or her quality of life. So, receiving professional treatment may help to avoid fatal consequences.


Therapy is helpful for people with suicidal ideations. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy works well. It lowers depression, stabilizes a person’s mood, and raises the ability for a person to cope with different challenging situations.


When a person visits with a psychiatrist, this professional may prescribe medication to lower suicidal thoughts. For example, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention explains that there are at least 20 FDA-approved anti-depressants that effectively treat suicidal ideation. Even though certain medication brings side effects, the benefits may definitely outweigh the negatives.


Hospitalization is not always part of a treatment plan for suicidal ideation. However, it is essential if a person is placing himself or herself into dangerous situations or is exhibiting symptoms of self-harm. Generally, the goal of hospitalization is to stabilize a person’s mood and to refer a patient to treatments that involve therapy that can improve his or her mental health.

Co-Occurring Disorders

A co-occurring disorder is a condition that involves more than one mental or behavioral health disorder. For example, a person may suffer from depression in addition to a drug misuse problem. In such cases, a person’s substance abuse may actually feed their depression, which makes suicidal ideation worse.

Individuals who suffer from suicidal ideation along with substance use disorders should seek professional treatment from a facility that is familiar with dual diagnosis issues. This requires a specialized plan that may include therapy and medication. The goal is to help a person gain control, regain sobriety, and learn healthy ways to deal with his or her mental condition in the long term.

How Depression and Overall Heath are Related

The effects of depression extend beyond an individual’s mental state. In other words, it affects a person’s physical well-being as well. There are numerous physical symptoms of depression.

  • Weight Loss: Depression dampens a person’s appetite. Therefore, noticeable weight loss results.
  • Chronic Pain Many depressed individuals deal with chronic pain. For example, it is common to experience unexplained joint pain and muscle tenderness.
  • Heart Disease: Since a person with depression rarely has the motivation to exercise or to take care of his or her body, the sedentary lifestyle leads to heart disease and other cardiac issues.
  • Inflammation: There is scientific evidence that suggests stress and depression lead to inflammation in the body.
  • Decreased Sexual Performance: Depression causes a decrease in libido. For example, a person may have trouble with arousal or may be unable to enjoy a pleasurable sexual performance.
  • Insomnia: Depression often leads to sleep problems, including insomnia. As result, a person feels constant fatigue. Also, sleep deprivation is known to cause conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • Gastrointestinal Problems: It is common for a person with depression to experience digestive issues, including diarrhea or constipation. In fact, IBS is reported in a high number of individuals who suffer from depression.

How to Overcome Suicidal Thoughts

When a person experiences passive suicidal ideation, it is essential to uncover things that help.

  • Therapy: In fact, this type of suicidal ideation may be a symptom of a different mental disorder. Visiting a certified therapist will help to identify and to control all issues.
  • Support: Having a support system in place is a great way to overcome suicidal thoughts. Also, there are support group meetings available with people who deal with similar thoughts.
  • Safety Plan: A safety plan keeps individuals from self-harming behavior. In detail, it should include the identification of triggers, ways to cope with the triggers, and people who can help during a mental crisis.
  • Self-Care: When an individual cares for his or her personal physical and mental health, suicidal ideation decreases. Eating correctly, exercising regularly, and getting adequate sleep are important self-care practices.
  • Mindfulness: Meditation and mindfulness are two ways to relax and manage stress.

How Florida Center for Recovery Can Help

When a person is experiencing passive or active suicidal ideation, it is vital to seek treatment. At Florida Center for Recovery, we provide a comfortable environment that supports your mental and behavioral health needs.

Through our variety of treatment options, we increase the quality of a patient’s life and decrease his or her risk of harm. When an individual struggles with thoughts of suicide, it is important to comprehend the underlying problems and to learn positive ways to cope.

Our therapy options give patients the best chances of successfully overcoming issues. Even if a person is not actively seeking ways to harm himself or herself, this may change in the future. Therefore, it is helpful to know a place with experienced medical professionals who are ready to offer assistance. For more information, contact us today.