Depression and Suicide
Depression is a disorder of the brain and body’s ability to biologically create and balance a normal range of thoughts, emotions, & energy. The risk of suicide is increased by concurrent alcohol and drug abuse, access to lethal means, hopelessness, and reduced by help-seeking behavior, and availability of family and other social supports. Depression is often difficult to diagnose because it can manifest in so many different ways. For example, some depressed individuals seem to withdraw into apathy, while others may become irritable or even agitated. Depression is a pernicious and all encompassing disorder, generally affecting body, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors to varying degrees. Depression can and should be treated when it occurs at the same time as other medical illnesses. Untreated depression can delay recovery or worsen the outcome of these other illnesses. Depression leads to disharmony at home, difficulties at work and internal distress.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people. A major cause of suicide is mental illness, very commonly depression. Others who are not suffering from depression are overwhelmed by painful emotions and see death as the only way out. Clinical depression commonly occurs concurrently with or can be precipitated by injury or other medical illnesses, and worsens the prognosis for these illnesses. Lack of social supports and the absence of avenues for fulfillment also predispose some to depression. Depression is more common in women than in men, though its most dramatic outcome, death by suicide, is more common in men. Suicides seldom occur without warning. If you are aware of common signs and of changes in behaviour, you can recognize and better help a person in crisis.
Signs of Depression
- Hopelessness about the future.
- Feeling sad or crying a lot.
- Drug or alcohol use.
- Changes in sleep patterns.
- Markedly diminished interest in sex.
- Frequent tearfulness.
- Self-injury such as cutting oneself.
What immediate action should be taken to prevent a suicide?
- Do not promise confidentiality.
- Listen attentively.
- Take the person seriously.
- If possible, do not leave the person alone.
- Prepare for possible hospitalization, if the physician advises.
- Keep potentially harmful objects hidden.
Warning Signs of Suicide
- Calling people to say goodbye.
- Self-destructive or risky behavior such as increased alcohol or drug use.
- Giving away prized possessions for no apparent reason.
- Talking or writing about death and suicide.
- Feelings of extreme hopelessness and helplessness.