The link between Depression and Suicide
Major Depression • When someone has adepressed or sad mood that is intense and lingers almost all day, almost every day for 2 weeks or more, it may be a sign that the person has developed major depression. Major depression, sometimes called clinical depression, is beyond a passing depressed mood - it is the term mental health professionals use for depression that has become an illness in need of treatment
Depression also distorts a person's viewpoint, allowing them to focus only on their failures and disappointments and to exaggerate these negative things. Depressed thinking can convince someone there is nothing to live for. The loss of pleasure that is part of depression can seem like further evidence that there's nothing good about the present. The hopelessness can make it seem like there will be nothing good in the future; helplessness can make it seem like there's nothing you can do to change things for the better. And the low energy that is part of depression can make every problem (even small ones) seem like too much to handle.
Bipolar Disorder • Major depression, sometimes called clinical depression, is beyond a passing depressed mood - it is the term mental health professionals use for depression that has become an illness in need of treatment. Another form of serious depression is called bipolar disorder, which includes extreme low moods (major depression) as well as extreme high moods (these are called manic episodes).
It's not hard to see why serious depression and suicide are connected. Serious depression (with both major depression and bipolar illness) involves a long-lasting sad mood that doesn't let up, and a loss of pleasure in things you once enjoyed. It also involves thoughts about death, negative thoughts about oneself, a sense of worthlessness, a sense of hopelessness that things could get better, low energy, and noticeable changes in appetite or sleep.
Therapy • When major depression lifts because a person gets the proper therapy or treatment, this distorted thinking is cleared and they can find pleasure, energy, and hope again. But while someone is seriously depressed, suicidal thinking is a real concern. When teens are depressed, they often don't realize that the hopelessness they feel can be relieved and that hurt and despair can be healed.
The Affects • When a teen commits suicide, everyone is affected. Family members, friends, teammates, neighbors, and sometimes even those who didn't know the person well may experience feelings of grief, confusion, guilt - and the sense that if only they had done something differently, the suicide could have been prevented. The reasons behind a teen's suicide or attempted suicide are often complex.
Some teens say they feel guilty - especially those who felt they could have interpreted their friend's actions and words better. Others say they feel angry with the person who committed or attempted suicide for having done something so selfish. Still others say they feel no strong emotions. All of these emotions are appropriate; stress to your child that there is no right or wrong way to feel.
Get Help • If you learn that your child is thinking about suicide, get help immediately. Your child's doctor can refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist, or your local hospital's department of psychiatry can provide a list of doctors in your area. Your local mental health association or county medical society can also provide references. In an emergency, you can call (800)SUICIDE or (800) 999-9999. • If your child is in an emergency situation, your local emergency room can conduct a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation and refer you to the appropriate resources. If you are unsure about whether you should bring your child to the emergency room, you can contact your doctor • Remember that any ongoing conflicts between a parent and child can fuel the fire for a teen who is feeling isolated, misunderstood, devalued, or suicidal. Get help to air family problems and resolve them in a constructive way. Also let the mental health professional know if there is a history of depression, substance abuse, family violence, or other stresses at home, such as an ongoing environment of criticism.
A long wait leads to too late!