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Suicidal Thoughts—Where They Come From and How to Treat Them

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suicidal-thoughts-how-to-treatHere's a sobering fact: Suicide is final.

If i get fired from my job, I’ll get another. If my wife divorces me, I can remarry. If i total my car, I’ll buy another. But suicide is game over. Permanently.

So sit on that thought for awhile.

As the rates of suicide increase, psychologists are faced with discovering more effective ways in which to deal with it.

Suicidal Thoughts and Suicidal Tendencies

Actual suicide numbers are just just the tip of the iceberg. Thoughts of suicide, suicidal ideation, and other suicidal tendencies affect many more.

If you wake up pondering suicide, thinking of ways in which to accomplish it, or feel that it is inevitable, then you’ve been living in your own personal hell.

Whatever pain, disappointment, regret or trauma you have experienced, the issue is not what happened, but how you're holding it, and the unproductive habits that have formed to cope.

Learn to hold it differently, and the negative cycle—depression, acting out, thoughts of self harm—can be broken.

Suicidal thoughts tend to come from one of three places:

1. Early Childhood Trauma and Suicidal Thoughts

There are typically a number of dynamics that cause a person to contemplate suicide. According to Object Relations Theory, all mental illness is the result of traumatic childhood experiences.

Developmentally speaking, our brains don’t fully wire until we are around the age of eight. Before this, there is no compartment in which to put difficult situations. Traumatic events cycle around in a child’s mind with no outlet. This is why children get hyper and tend to act out the dynamics that were done to them.

According to Freud, without the proper developmental foundation and unresolved issues floating around in one’s subconscious mind, an adult faced with significant stress will regress to that childhood stage and become hopeless.

The majority of people who attempt suicide have had early childhood trauma and exhibit signs of “learned helplessness.”

Learned Helplessness: Simply stated, this is a process of a person finding no hope, failing to look at other options to get out of their predicament, and simply giving up.   

2. External Shaming and Suicidal Thoughts

Another attribute of a person who contemplates suicide is the habit of focusing more on their external world then their internal one. They care more about others’ opinions than their own.  Friends and family have a way of reminding us of our poor choices and, explicitly or implicitly, shaming us.

3. Internal Self-Loathing and Suicidal Thoughts

A third attribute often present for individuals who contemplate suicide is self-loathing. Self-loathing exists when we feel unbearable regret or remorse for failures or things we’ve done.

Probably the most common cause we see is repeated failures in cessation from alcohol or drug abuse. When a person continues to relapse despite ultimatums from their spouse or boss, leading to loss of what is held dear, the accusations, shame and loathing come from within:

How could I be so stupid? I’m worthless!

This is thinking is inaccurate. People experiencing this pain simply lack the proper tools and habits for dealing with negative emotions. They can be learned.

Seeing our Trials and Tribulations in a Different Light

Suicidal thoughts, severe depression, and other emotional disorders usually have both a mental and spiritual health component. But until recently, spiritual health was the domain of religion and largely kept separate from mental health.

Whatever your definition of God and Spirituality, addressing underlying mental and emotional issues from a spiritual perspective helps us see them differently.

Have you ever noticed that issues and problems tend to repeat themselves? If we don’t address our them properly, the Universe lets us experience the issues again and again until we grow.

People have the ability to recreate their lives. They also have the ability to see the blessings in each of their issues. Every time we help someone work through an unresolved issue, they grow in consciousness.

The Spiritual Psychology Approach

According to Spiritual Psychology, we are "spiritual beings having a human experience." This means that our existence and everyday experience are not random, but rather there is a purpose for why we are living. Instead of blaming God for our suffering, we come to see that “God” is the Spirit of Love helping us grow through the inevitable trials and tribulations of life.

With Spiritual Psychology, we deal with all four dimensions of the whole person—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual—to bring about transformation.

In the 1950’s the famed psychologist Carl Rogers foretold of the day in which the health of the soul was the main concern in psychological treatment. That day has come and Spiritual Psychology is that approach.  

Getting Help

If you are having severe suicidal thoughts, get help right away. Visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime, 24x7.

If you think you may need dual diagnosis treatment (mental/emotional disorder like depression or anxiety PLUS addiction), contact us, we’re here to help. Or, download our free eBook to learn more about our approach: 

Free eBook Download:

Healing Underlying Core Issues


Caroline McGraw

This post was written by Caroline McGraw

In addition to her work as "the voice of The Clearing", Caroline Garnet McGraw writes about trading perfectionism for possibility at A Wish Come Clear. Visit and receive your free Perfectionist Recovery Toolkit today!

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