Immediate and impulsive reactions after a traumatic event can lead to an increased risk of suicide. Certain individuals are particularly vulnerable:

  • Those feeling guilty for what happened
    • Subjective guilt (“I didn’t watch you closely enough”)
    • Objective guilt (“It was my fault she died; I was drunk driving”)
  • Those who have lost a close family member (“I want to follow you, I cannot live without you”)
  • Those feeling ashamed about what happened (“I am ashamed that my son killed himself; there must be something wrong with our family”).

For some, the acute crisis reactions can be so overwhelming that they just want to get away from them. Suicide can then seem like a solution. After a traumatic event, the affected person can partially lose their ability to reflect in a nuanced way on the event. This increases the chance of choosing a drastic measure like suicide.

Suicidal thoughts, without suicidal plans, are relatively common and in itself not dangerous. If concerned, ask directly about suicidal thoughts or plans. Get additional help if you are not familiar with managing suicidal risk.

If you are acutely concerned, arrange urgent assessment by a trained professional to evaluate need for immediate help.