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The Mind Blog

Written by Michelle Witte

ADHD and Suicidal Ideation

ADHD and Suicidal Ideation


People tend to be uncomfortable in discussing suicide, we think talking about may cause someone to do it. This of course is a fallacy, people who are experiencing suicidal ideation are doing it due to personal factors rather than a conversation they had with someone. Bringing suicide topics out into the open, can be freeing and allow a person struggling with their thoughts a forum to talk about it.

Studies from the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry have found a link between cis-female adolescents and high rates of SI. There seems to a lot of speculation why, a high comorbidity with depression, poor working memory and low self worth. Plus, cis-females tend to be less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD compared to their cis-male counterparts. I am mentioning the identification of cis-gendered females as Trans women have high SI due to other factors in their lives as well as possible ADHD issues. Let’s face it, researchers have really dropped the ball when it comes to studying the Trans community and their experience with ADHD.

Why would poor working memory be a factor in higher SI? There are many schools of thought: feelings of shame due to forgetting important dates or assignments, embarrassment factors with being late, forgetting people’s names or what they just told you. I think it goes deeper than that, I think having poor memory impacts us remembering the good things in life when depression sets in. Depression impacts memory in its own way and cause the “freeze effect” to happen more often to the ADHDer than when they are not depressed. The “freeze effect” is when your mind “crashes” and you are unable to do anything until its “reboots”. This slowing of the though process with the revving of the internal engine of the ADHD brain can feel very distressing. Feeling like you need to go and do stuff, but you just don’t have the motivation to. With that, you feel useless and lazy and all the nasty critical descriptors you might have heard your whole life. This leads to the ADHDER feeling worthless and might start to think about suicide. The mask we easily wear daily makes it hard for loved ones to know that we are struggling. Even our professional help, may not think to ask about SI as we tend to focus on the behavioural struggles and not necessarily on the mental health ones. Plus, with poor working memory we may forget to mention it in our appointments as we have so much to say in a short amount of time.

So, as an ADHD community we need to start talking about suicide, we need to remind each other that we have so much to give to the world. Yes, our brains are different, and we experience the world in a different way, and sometimes the world is too much. But we are creative, and this world needs us to see the answers that neuro-typical brains can not see. We need to silence the critic in our heads and hire a coach that encourages us to seek the answers and help that we need. Suicidal ideation is a sign that we need to reach out and talk to compassionate people about what has become too much for us. I know that rejection sensitivity may keep us from speaking because we fear that no one cares, but they do. Your ADHD community cares, your professional helpers care, your family care and your friends care, you are not alone.

Please reach out if you are struggling: Here is the Canadian Distress phone number 833-456-4566.

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