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What Is Suicide & Suicidal Ideation? What Help Is Available?

What Is Suicide?

What Is Suicide & Suicidal Ideation? You might wonder because someone you care for is acting different and you are concerned. You might be asking because you are starting to notice concerning thoughts that you are having. You might wonder what mental health help is available. For all of these questions, I welcome you into our discussion and want you to know you aren't alone. Entire teams of dedicated individuals are helping to answer these questions.

By the end of this article, my goal is to introduce you to several of these organizations and individuals who can help.

But first, let's answer: "What is suicide and suicidal ideation?"

Suicide is classically defined as life threatening, deliberate actions taken against oneself. Though suicide is most commonly spoken of in terms of an act which is been completed, it is important to also understand the term “suicidal ideation.”

What Is Suicidal Ideation?

Suicidal ideation means an individual wants to take their own life and/or thinks about suicide. This includes two types: passive and active.

  • Passive suicidal ideation means an individual wishes they could die or were dead, yet they do not have a plan or intent to make this happen.

  • Active suicidal ideation means an individual both thinks about wanting to take their own life and also has intention to do this, along with a plan to act.

Why Would Someone Believe Suicide Is An Answer?

Because they believe it answers the question, “How do I make this pain end?”

In the majority of situations involving active suicidal ideation or a suicide attempt, the individual involved does not want life to end—they want pain to end.

Death is concluded as the only way to end inner turmoil. The idea prevails that if one is not here anymore, they can finally escape.

Many of us don’t know how to work through pain. This is not due to incompetence or personal failure.

Learning resilience is something which must be modeled and taught. We do not automatically know how to work through a grievous or mourning period of life for either wrongs that were done to us or abuse or a traumatic, challenging life circumstances. Due to a lack of developed skills in discovering language for and knowing how to mentally, emotionally, and physically work though crisis or trauma—pain compounds. And pain demands to be heard. But, if someone lacks an outlet for that pain to be met, acknowledged, and validated in a way which helps it move through to actions steps to process it in a healthy way—many individuals feel helpless and in perpetual pain.

But, I dare to believe there is another way.

Death is not an answer—ending the pain by acknowledging it is. Only when we discover a place of healthy acknowledgment, validation, support, and key, actionable steps are we able to walk a pathway of hope.

I believe that pathway exists—and you are strong enough to find it.

Building A Safety Plan

If you are taking a stand against suicidal thoughts, you know it often fights back. Taking action each time is a battle which is not easy. Yet, we hope that having a pathway can help you continue to seek wholeness.

Please note: Even with the best of plans, there are times in which a crisis is stronger than our plan. In those moments, seek immediate, professional help. The following ideas on how to fight back are not intended to take the place of professional help.

One such resource which has a fantastic list of tools and resources for creating a safety plan is Challenge The Storm. You can check out their advice here:

They even have a sample plan that any of us are able to use to help us learn how to build our own plan.

Additional resources which can support individuals who are seeking to build a safety plan include:

  1. BeyondBlue App provides tools to build and implement a safety plan.

  2. Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Safety Plan Template. 1 page safety plan print off with space to write in warning signs, coping strategies, and more.

  3. Get Self-Help Offers a second safety plan print off, with tools and resources from the UK.

  4. Therapist Aid Offers free worksheets for building a self-harm safety plan, suicide assessment, and warning signs.

  5. Nick’s Experience With Using A Safety Plan One young man’s story of how he uses a safety plan in times which feel challenging.

Safety Plan Resources

Our goal, at Change Your narrative, is to go beyond inspiration alone, but to provide education and directional guidance - pointing you and the individuals that you care for towards skilled care. We do not want to simply define suicide and suicidal ideation, yet want you to know there are ways to combat it through organizations, individuals, and communities who can provide the best support. For a sample listing of such organizations, we have compiled the following below:

Apps Which Offer Support

Communities Which Offer Support

Resources For Men

Resources for Parents

Support For Families

Resources For Ministry Leaders

Resources For Teachers

Resources For Teenagers Whose Friends Struggle

Resources For Teenagers Who Struggle

Apps Which Offer Support

TalkLife offers online support similar to group therapy. Share anonymously or with your name.

Moodpath offers 14 days of check ins, providing an overview of your emotional well-being. Plus 100+ exercises.

Happify includes games and activities which elevate mood and build resilience through CBT, mindfulness and positivity.

What’s Up aids individuals in discovering the cause of feelings and thoughts though guided questioning.

Self-Help For Anxiety Management (SAM) offers an anxiety toolkit which tracks thoughts and behaviors, while also offering tools to combat negativity.

Panic Relief provides coping strategies, exercise, and breathing techniques to help move through a moment of panic.

PTSD Coach provides ways to understand PTSD along with how to find additional help.

BeyondBlue App provides tools to build and implement a safety plan.

Communities Which Offer Support

To Write Love On Her Arms -

  • Offers a search for free or low cost therapy options to connect with a therapist.

7 Cups Of Tea -

  • Offers chat rooms to begin a conversation, plus educational videos and when to seek professional help.

Lifeline Crisis Chat -

  • Offers free, online chatting with trained individuals.

Love Is Respect -

  • Offers education, support and advocacy to those facing complicated dating issues,

along with a live chat feature connecting you to trained advocates.

Remedy Live -

  • Offers a faith-based videos on mental health issues along with trained advocates who want to


Anxiety And Depression Association Of America -

  • Provides a listing of support groups, including a search feature to find a group near you.

Heads Up Guys -

  • Provides action points and support specifically for men from men.

OK2 Talk -

  • Offers online support, education, and relatable stories for teens and young adults who battle mental health.

Resources For Men

Heads Up Guys

  • Site offers male-specific action steps.

Man Therapy

  • Site uses humor to discuss difficult topics.

Suicide Prevention Resource Center

  • Male-centered mental health resources.

Male Depression And Suicide: The Barbers Trying To Get Men To Talk About Their Mental Health

Channel 4 News

Face It Foundation

  • Provides guidance to overcome depression

Your Head: An Owner’s Manual PDF Resource

  • Printable PDF filled with resources and tools for those wanting to learn more about male mental health issues.

Resources for Parents

The American Depression And Anxiety Association of America has a screening tool for you to use and share with your child’s doctor. It can be found here:

Youth Suicide Prevention

Mayo Clinic

  • Teen’s share their own warning signs and what questions to ask to get involved in supporting them.

Talking With Kids About Suicide

  • Offers professional medical insight on if it is okay to ask, “Have you ever thought about suicide?”

Are You The Parent Of A Suicidal Teen? You Are Not Alone.

  • Article is filled with a tremendous amount of support and resources—along with parent-to- parent insight.

Preventing Suicide: What Families Need To Know

Seattle Children’s

  • Offers guidance for parents from other parents, combined with professional insight on how to identify warning signs, along with what to do.

In the Gray Area Of Being Suicidal

The Mighty

  • One Young Woman’s explanation of her suicidal thoughts. Offers insight into the types of thoughts and emotions a loved one may feel.

Dear Mom (What I Wish You Would Do)

  • Offers a first person, open letter from a daughter to her mother. It is a bit jarring and blunt. There is language in it. But, it is included for the sake of insight on how one daughter sought to be approached by her family—along with resources for families.

Is This The Night? Family Workbook suicidal/dp/0692475907#customerReviews

  • Title claims to be a “a self-care guide for family & friends impacted by a suicidal crisis.”

A Voice At The Table

  • 30-minute documentary, focusing on four families—as they share their story of suicidal

crisis. Focuses on the journey of suicide attempt survivors and their families as they seek


Support For Families

The National Alliance On Mental Illness has a directory of support groups for you and your family.

The Society For Adolescent Heath And Medicine has a comprehensive listing of additional support options.

The Depression And Bipolar Alliance Support

Alliance offers connection to local chapters.

Family Caregiver Alliance provides a map of network help in your area.

Resources For Ministry Leaders

How to Build Education, Understanding & Community Around Someone Who Is Struggling


  • Offers a roundtable discussion of how to be supportive of someone who struggles.

Tips For Students – How To Talk About Mental Health

  • Includes several prompts which help students get started with beginning an important conversation, including a letter template. Can be utilized as a means for helping young people frame the discussion.

DYM FREE Suicide Prevention Training

  • “Understanding Mental Illness and Suicide Detection and Prevention from Suicide Prevention Specialist, Craig Lomax with introductions by Kay Warren, Co-founder of Saddleback Church.” - Quote from site

9 Things The Church Gets Wrong About Suicide

  • A suicide attempt survivor offers his own insight on what we miss in ministry, along with action steps for churches to learn how to offer the right type of support.

10 Free Ways Your Church Can Stop Mental Health


  • Offers actionable steps to create a haven of support within your community, along with links to get started.

How To Create A Suicide Prevention Policy

  • Offers your leaders a template for drafting policy and procedures when an individual shares suicidal thoughts with them.

How To Discuss Suicide In Youth Group

  • Provides key talking points for those considering developing a message around this important mental health topic.

Youth Suicide Prevention

Mayo Clinic

  • Teen’s share their own warning signs and what questions to ask to get involved in supporting them.

Campus Crusade – Suicide Prevention Resources

  • A compilation of articles and tools CRU uses on campus.

Orange Blogs – Compilation of Resources

  • Offers a wide listing of resources for intergenerational ministries.

YM Blog – Scary Stuff: Self-Harm – by Kurt Johnson

  • How to best respond to a student who confides about their self-harm and how you can be there for them and their parents.

How Does The Gospel Apply To Self-Injury?

Key Ministries

  • Offers a gospel-centric lens in which to find a young person tangible help along with spiritual guidance.

Four Reasons Kids Cut To Cope

Key Minsitries

  • Offers insight into why self-injury happens and what our response as should be.

What To Do When A Student Self-Harms – Podcast

Orange Blogs

Beyond Skin Deep: Responding To Kids Who Cut

Fuller Youth Institute

Resources For Teachers

The Fight Against Teen Suicide Begins In The Classroom Brittni Darras | TEDxMileHigh


  • One teacher’s guidance for other educators on talking about student suicidal ideation.

SAM App – Identifying The Language Of Suicide

  • “Spreading Activation Mobile” or “SAM” is an app which offers individuals the opportunity to identify suicidality and mental health issues. Ideal for those who work with students and young persons to help them learn what to look for in order to promote healthy outlooks.

  • To read more, visit:

Tips For Talking About Your Mental Health

  • Includes several prompts which help students get started with beginning an important conversation, including a letter template. Can be utilized as a means for helping young people frame the discussion.

What to Do When A Student Self-Harms

We Are Teachers

  • The missing manual for understanding and dealing with students who self-injure.

Educators And Self-Injury

  • Offers an eBook which hosts templates for protocol your school board can enact, along with how to communicate with parents.

Resources For Teenagers Whose Friends Struggle

Youth Suicide Prevention

Mayo Clinic

  • Teen’s share their own stories.

Your Life Your Voice


  • Offers a wide range of teen-focused articles, PDF tools, downloadable resources, and conversations on important topics, including suicidal ideation.

Stuff Mom Never Told You

  • Offers clear, direct guidance that your mom may not have told you, especially on how to be a good friend to someone who has told you they have suicidal thoughts.

How To Help Someone Who Is Suicidal

The Psych Show

  • Offers suggestions on how to discuss the topic and several immediate actions you can take on their behalf.