The Risk of Suicide

Though everyone experiences depression from time to time, the experience of moderate to severe depression and the serious contemplation of suicide are serious mental health issues that require immediate intervention and treatment.

If you believe that your loved one is at risk of taking his or her own life, don’t wait to intervene. Emergency medical help followed by intensive treatment can save the life of your family member.

However, not everyone who is diagnosed with depression will have suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide. Higher risk is associated with depression symptoms that include:

  • A lack of interest in hobbies and activities they once enjoyed
  • Hopelessness
  • Insomnia
  • Extreme irritability or agitation
  • Panic attacks
  • Substance abuse

Risk Factors for Suicide

Depression, substance abuse, and suicide risk are all deeply connected in the United States. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that about 90 percent of the people who take their own lives in the US are struggling with depression, a substance abuse disorder, or a combination of these issues. According to NIMH, the following are also risk factors for suicide:

  • Suicidal thoughts or previous attempts at suicide
  • Genetic predisposition for depression or drug and alcohol abuse
  • Having a family member who committed suicide
  • History of violence in the family (e.g., sexual abuse, physical abuse)
  • Spending time in prison
  • Exposure to the suicidal acts of others in the family or community
  • Firearms in the home (more than half of all people who take their own lives use a firearm)

The Facts

According to the American Association of Suicidology, the following is true about the connection between depression and suicide:

  • Major depression is the mental health disorder most often connected to suicide.
  • Patients who are not treated for depression have a lifetime risk of suicide of about 20 percent.
  • About 66 percent of those who commit suicide are struggling with depression at the time they take their lives.
  • One in every 100 women and seven in every 100 men diagnosed with depression will go on to commit suicide.
  • The risk of suicide is about 20 times greater among those diagnosed with major depression as compared to the general public.
  • Those who have suffered through multiple depression episodes are more likely to attempt suicide than those who have been through just one.
  • Those with drug and alcohol abuse and/or addiction issues who are also diagnosed with depression are at a far greater risk of suicide.

Substance Abuse and Addiction

When struggling with depression, many patients turn to alcohol, heroin, prescription drugs and other substances in an effort to fill the emptiness and escape the pain that comes with untreated depression. Unfortunately, drug use only serves to increase the symptoms associated with depression, lengthen depression episodes, and create a host of physical and social problems along the way. One of the many problems faced by those who attempt to self-treat their depression through drugs and alcohol is the increased risk of suicide. The best way to handle these overwhelming issues is through Dual Diagnosis treatment.

Treatment Should Address All Disorders

A Dual Diagnosis treatment program is uniquely able to help patients overcome multiple, serious issues – like depression and substance abuse – increasing the chance that the patient will find balance in life. Contact us at the phone number listed here today and speak to an admissions coordinator who can assist you. We’re here to help.

Check out more on how society currently views mental health illness and how we hope to shift this perspective in the future. Sam Webb shares his thoughts on Recovery Unscripted.

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