Why do people commit suicide?
Simply put, people commit suicide because they are ill. According to statistics,
90 percent of people who commit suicide suffer from a significant psychiatric illness.
While this answer may appear to oversimplify the situation, it is nevertheless honest.
Because of the stigma associated with mental illness, many people with
depression or anxiety disorders choose to kill themselves
rather than to seek out the help they need. Education, open discussion, and raising
public awareness are all ways to help reduce this stigmatization.
Don't suicidal people just want attention?
Isn't that just their way of proving something?
Absolutely not. A suicide attempt is a cry for help. Because a suicide attempt
is a sign that something is very wrong, it should never be ignored. Chronic
depression can lead to feelings of worthlessness,
hopelessness, and frustration. A suicide attempt is a depressed person's way of
expressing these feelings. The majority of people who attempt or commit suicide
do not want to die — they just want the pain and anguish to end. Suicide
attempts should therefore always be taken seriously. Without proper intervention
and treatment, a person who has attempted suicide is likely to try again.
Everyone gets depressed sometimes.
Why do you call depression an illness?
Depression is not the same as feeling blue.
While it's normal to feel down sometimes—about the loss
of a loved one or over the loss of a job, for instance—to consistently
feel the symptoms of depression for a period of two weeks or longer may be
indicative of depressive illness. Depression is an illness that must be
clinically diagnosed by a doctor or a psychiatrist.
Depression and depressive illnesses are
more than just being in a depressed mood. Chronic depression or depressive
illness is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. These imbalances
occur when chemicals such as serotonin become unbalanced or disrupted.
When this occurs, it impairs an individual's ability to function emotionally,
mentally, and socially.
People with depression often report an inability to imagine a happy future
or to see the positive in their present circumstances. Often they don't
realize they are suffering from a treatable mental illness. Emotions and
physical pain can seem unbearable and the challenges of daily living
insurmountable. Perceptions become skewed, and a depressed person may not
be able to understand the options available to help relieve his or her
emotional pain. Depressed people, as we've already seen, don't want to
die — they want a means to end their suffering.
Suffering from depression isn't something a person voluntarily
chooses. Unlike a blue mood, depressed people can't simply "get over it".
Yet, with proper treatment, depression can
be managed. (See Depression for more information
on the types of depressive illnesses, their causes, and their treatments.)
Why does chronic depression lead to suicidal thoughts?
There is a definite correlation between depressive illnesses and suicide:
untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide. This is because
depression can distort thinking, causing a person to think or behave
irrationally. Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness can lead to suicidal
thoughts. Understanding the symptoms of depression
and knowing the warning signs of suicide can help
people better understand that depression and depressive illnesses are treatable.
Can a suicidal person hide her feelings?
Yes. Many people suffering from depression
and also those contemplating suicide can hide their feelings and appear happy
to everyone around them. Yet, a suicidal person can give clues as to how
desperate he or she is feeling. Be sure you know the symptoms of depression
and that you understand the warning signs of
suicide. Don't be afraid to ask questions and to be willing to engage the
depressed person in discussions of his or her feelings.
Does a person's risk for suicide increase if she's been exposed to it?
If a family member or friend has committed suicide, will she?
Suicide does tend to run in families because suicide is
linked to the genetic component of depression and depressive illnesses.
A healthy person's talking about suicide or being aware of a suicide in
her family or among her friends does not put her at risk for attempting
suicide. It is the failure to effectively treat depressive illnesses
that increase a person's risk of suicide. Not everyone with depression
has suicidal thoughts.
Why are depression and suicide such "taboo" subjects?
Why don't people talk about them?
People avoid talking about depression and suicide out of fear of
stigmatization. They're afraid people will label them as crazy, weak,
or somehow inferior. The good thing is that society's thinking is
slowly changing and that people are becoming more aware of depressive
illnesses and the way these can impact an individual's well-being.
Does "talking things out" cure depression?
While a doctor should oversee any medical treatment, studies
have conclusively shown that a combination of talking therapies
medications is the most effective means of treating
For some patients, cognitive behavior therapy or interpersonal
therapy can considerably alleviate the symptoms of depression.
Why do some people attempt suicide when they seem to be getting better?
Quite often, a person who is severely depressed and contemplating
suicide may not have enough energy to attempt it. As the depressive illness
lifts and she regains energy, her feelings of hopelessness and frustration
remain. Increased energy contributes to acting on suicidal thoughts and
feelings. Others theorize that depressed people "give in" to their disease
because they believe they can no longer fight it. Because this relieves
her anxiety, a suicidal person may appear calmer in the period before a
If a person is determined to kill herself, can she be stopped?
NEVER GIVE UP ON SOMEONE CONTEMPLATING SUICIDE. For a person contemplating
suicide, her desire to live is overshadowed by the hopelessness of her illness.
The decision to commit suicide is really a decision to stop hurting. Never give
up on someone because she has made up her mind to commit suicide. Depression
saps a person of her energy. Helping a person regain her perspective and the
strength to aggressively fight her disease really can help reverse the trend
toward suicidal ideation.