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What type of therapist can help treat suicidal ideation?

A mental health professional trained in evidence-based methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy can help a person challenge their own underlying premises about their current situation. Suicidal ideation is a symptom of a serious underlying mental health concern and, for some individuals, a response to challenging life circumstances. Therefore, a mental health professional who can diagnose and treat depression, anxiety, or thought disorders such as schizophrenia would be an appropriate choice, as is a clinician with training in crisis intervention. Suicidal thoughts are serious and need attention from a skilled mental health professional. Some people try to improve their symptoms through mindfulness practices, eating healthfully, sleeping right, and other self-care approaches. While self-care is necessary for optimal physical and mental health, therapy, sometimes alongside medication, is recommended to address and overcome suicidal thoughts.

Who can diagnose suicidal ideation?

Psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed therapists, psychiatric social workers, counselors, and other qualified mental health professionals can evaluate a patient for suicidal ideation. This professional will inquire about symptoms and compare them to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as the DSM-5. The individual should also be assessed for any possible conditions that could cause suicidal thoughts such as deep depression, eating disorders, PTSD, schizophrenia, and extreme anxiety.

How do I know if I need therapy for suicidal ideation?

If someone is experiencing suicidal ideation, they should seek help. A therapist can help pull people out of the deep sadness and rumination that can lead them to think about ending their life. People who experience suicidal thoughts have difficulties with daily functioning. The person may also ruminate deeply on events that have happened; and they may feel that the stress of everyday life, in relationships or in work or school, has come to a breaking point. The person may feel extremely depressed and anxious, as well as suicidal. The symptoms can be wholly disruptive and a therapist can help address them.

How do I get someone to try therapy for suicidal ideation?

Care, compassion, and respect are needed when encouraging a person to try therapy. Describe what you are observing without judgment or criticism. Listen carefully and ask this family member or friend open-ended questions in a calm, compassionate, and positive manner. Be prepared for logistical difficulties, such as the individual balking about getting to therapy sessions or their inability to find a therapist.