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Suicidal Thoughts (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care

A call to the health-care professional or to 911 is warranted when someone admits to suicidal ideation. That is, if someone actively wishes his or her own death, then evaluation by a medical professional is absolutely essential.

Any form of suicidal ideation -- actively wishing one's own death -- should prompt immediate evaluation by a medical professional. Therefore, going to the closest emergency room or calling a suicide hotline is what to do if you are having suicidal thoughts.

By the time someone admits to having a thought or plan to end one's life, the person may have already initiated the plan.

  • It is not uncommon for a person with suicidal ideation to be treated in the emergency department for having taken an overdose without telling anyone.
  • Guessing about a person's true intentions rather than having the sufferer professionally evaluated when suicidal ideation is a concern is dangerous and wrong.

Professionals no longer tend to speak of a "suicidal gesture."

  • Suicidal gestures were thought to occur when a person harms himself or herself in such a way as to bring sympathy but not death.
  • Even if you believe a person is doing it just for attention, you must not rely on this feeling.

Since many people make gestures that are unintentionally lethal, any suicidal behavior should be thought of with the utmost seriousness.

  • For instance, someone may take an overdose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) in order to gain sympathy, not understanding that an overdose of Tylenol can be fatal.
  • It is not your job as a concerned friend or family member to evaluate the intent of the person with suicidal ideation. Your job is to get the person to the hospital as soon as possible.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/11/2014

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