Many people presume that there is a definite link between depression and suicide. Facts are that there can be a link between depression and suicide in some instances. In recent years, data regarding the connection between depression and suicide has accumulated and warrants consideration.
New Data on the Depression and Suicide Link
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued new data about the link between depression and suicide. The information from HHS reveals:
- 2 percent of people ever treated for depression in an outpatient setting will die by suicide
- 4 percent of people ever treated for depression in an inpatient setting will die by suicide
- 6 percent of people who received inpatient treatment for depression following suicide ideation of suicide attempts will die by suicide
- 7 percent of men with a lifetime history of depression will die by suicide
- 1 percent of women with a lifetime history of depression will die by suicide
- A majority of suicide deaths are men
- Four-times as many women as men attempt suicide
Suicide to Escape Mental Pain
According to Psychology Today, people with suicidal ideations and individuals who die by suicide were not necessarily focused on ending their lives. Rather, Psychology Today reports:
Suicide, some observers believe, is less an attempt to end one’s own life than to escape the mental pain of endless negative thoughts, reliving life’s failures and defeats, enduring constant self-recrimination, and envisioning only bleakness ahead, which are the hallmarks of depression.
Factors That Raise the Risk of Suicide Among Depressed People
Researchers have concluded that there are some additional risk factors that raise the risk of suicide among people who are suffering from depression. These risk factors include:
- Evidence reveals that both depression and suicide can run in families, therefore biology can raise the risk of suicide among people suffering from depression.
- People who have post-traumatic stress syndrome or PTSD are considered to be at a higher risk of dying by suicide.
- A history of trauma more generally also raises the risk of suicide among people who suffer from depression.
- Substance use in and of itself is a major risk factor for suicide among people with depression.
- Loneliness is a significant contributing factor to depression and raises the risk of suicide among people who do have depression.
- People who are socially isolated have a higher risk of suicide when they also suffer from depression.
- People suffering from chronic pain and depression are at higher risk for suicide.
Warning Signs of Suicide
Depression tops the list of warning signs that an individual may be vulnerable to suicide. Depression is not the only more commonplace warning sign of vulnerability to suicide. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the complete list of commonplace suicide risk warning signs is as follows:
- Previous suicide attempts
- Preoccupation with death
- Statements like, “You would be better off without me” or “I wish I were dead”
- Talking openly about wanting to kill oneself
- Development of a suicide plan, acquiring the means to carry it out, “rehearsal” behavior, or setting a time for the attempt
- Making out a will or giving away favorite possessions
- Inappropriately saying goodbye
- Making ambiguous statements like, “You won’t have to worry about me anymore,” “I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up,” or “I just can’t take it anymore”
- Suddenly switching from being very depressed to being very happy or calm for no apparent reason
The reality is that many individuals who are at risk of suicide demonstrate multiple signs simultaneously.
Note About Warning Signs
Survivors of suicide oftentimes blame themselves for not seeing one or another of the warning signs associated with a person at higher risk of death by suicide. The fact is that a survivor of suicide should not blame his or her self in this manner. The reality is that people at risk of suicide or individuals with suicidal ideations are able to mask their feelings and warning signs that tend to exist when a person is at risk for this type of death.
Steps to Take When a Depressed Person Threatens Suicide
If a depressed person threatens suicide, there are some steps that you need to consider taking promptly. According to John Hopkins University School of Medicine these steps are:
- Take the person seriously
- Involve other people. Contact friends and family members
- Express concern
- Listen attentively
- Ask direct questions
- Acknowledge the person’s feelings
- Offer support
- Don’t promise confidentiality
- Don’t leave the person alone
- Take the person to the nearest emergency room, contact a mental health professional, or call 911 immediately
- Keep possibly harmful objects hidden
- Prepare for possible hospitalization, if the healthcare provider advises
If you have lost a loved one as a result of a death by suicide, be aware that there are therapists and counselors who can provide you the support you may need. You do not need to languish on your own and without the support you very well may need.