Suicides are unfortunately one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. and it is alarming to note the statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show nearly 45,000 accounted suicidal deaths per year, as of 2016.
Depression and Suicide
Could there be a link between depression and suicide? As of 2017, almost 6.7 percent of the population in the nation experienced serious depression, and this was only among adults. In the wake of recent celebrity suicides, we may be able to draw a connection between depression and suicide.
As spectators, all we see is the glitz and glamour surrounding celebrities, but we rarely get a glimpse of their inner turmoil. For instance, Robin Williams’ death came as a shock to the whole world. It was hard to believe that a brilliant comedian, known for his ability to make people laugh, was dwelling in the darkness of depression. Similarly, the recent incidents involving Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain were also difficult to understand considering their successful careers.
These disturbing incidents make us realize that no matter how glamorous someone’s life looks from the outside, it’s the darkness on the inside that needs attention and while celebrity suicides come to the public eye, just imagine how many deaths go unnoticed every single day.
How We Can Help
Depression can be a very difficult condition, but if you know what to look for and how to offer support, you might just be able to help a loved one to cope with the condition and maybe even stir away from suicidal thoughts.
Some of the factors linked to suicides include:
- Extreme stress
- Loss of a loved one or other personal losses
- Mental health issues
- Disabilities that leave people dependent
- Diagnosis of life-threatening diseases
Studies have shown that even though depression may not manifest, it is often a major factor leading to suicide. Usual symptoms of depression include feelings of guilt, shame, anger and loneliness, which can lead to self-destructive behavior.
It is extremely difficult to gauge a person’s mental well-being, even if it is your spouse or best friend. But there are some warning signs that you can look for:
- Open discussions of death and means of bringing about one’s death
- Preparatory steps like making or updating a will, writing a suicide note and bidding farewell to loved ones
- Mood swings and sleep issues
- Increased alcohol or drug usage
- Avoidance of social activities
Here’s what you could to do to be more aware and helpful:
- Keep your eyes and ears open: Look for signs of grief, anger, pain and hopelessness.
- Be available: Many people who undergo such feelings may simply need someone to talk to, so be available and be patient. The knowledge that someone truly cares for them could help them feel less lonely and hopeless.
- Provide hope and compassion: Reemphasize the fact that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Be compassionate by providing them space and time to allow them to open up gradually.
Depression in itself is a sad and scary condition, but it is even more disturbing when combined with suicidal thoughts and the actual execution of those thoughts. Let’s take it upon ourselves to be more aware of the mental well-being of our loved ones so that we are available to support them through the darkness in their lives.
Morin, A., & L. (n.d.). How Many People Are Actually Affected by Depression Every Year? Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/depression-statistics-everyone-should-know-4159056
Suicide Warning Signs: What to Watch for and Do. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-recognizing-signs-of-suicide#1
Beyondblue. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/suicide-prevention/understanding-suicide-and-grief/understanding-suicide
Kaiser, S. (2018, June 12). What We Need To Know About Suicide When There Are No Warning Signs. Retrieved from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-help-anyone-who-is-silently-struggling-with-depression