Depression and Suicide Prevention
Suicide is defined as intentionally taking one’s own life and comes from the Latin suicidium, which literally means “to kill oneself.” It tends to carry different traits depending on the culture. Historically, and still today in some locations, suicide is considered a criminal offense, a religious taboo, and, in some cases, an act of honor (e.g., kamikaze and suicide bombings).
Literally speaking, suicide or completed suicide is the successful act of intentionally causing one’s own death. Attempted suicide is an attempt to take one’s life that does not end in death, rather self-injury. Assisted suicide, a controversial topic in the medical field, is defined as an individual helping another individual in bringing about their own death by providing them with the means to carry it out or by providing advice on how to do it.
While only a qualified medical or mental health provider can diagnose depression, there are certain warning signs that can help you identify whether you or someone you care about may be depressed.
Depression looks a little different in different people, however. So while one individual may struggle to get out of bed due to depression, someone else might be able to go to work every day without co-workers noticing that he’s depressed.
The two most common types contain major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder.
The good news is, depression is treatable. If you recognize signs that you or someone you may know be depressed, professional help may be warranted. Medication, talk therapy, or a combination of the two could be instrumental in reducing depressive symptoms.
Decreased Interest or Pleasure
The second core symptom of major depressive disorder is a reduce interest or pleasure in things that were once enjoyed. A person exhibiting this symptom will show markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, daily activities.
Depressed mood is consistent with both major depression and persistent depressive disorder. In major depression, an individual must feel depressed most of the day, nearly every day, as shown by either subjective report or observations made by others. Children or adolescents may appear more irritable than sad. Children may appear more irritable than depressed and they must experience it more days than not for at least one year.
Sleep disturbances including complexity falling asleep, staying asleep, feeling sleepy despite a full night’s rest or daytime sleepiness can indicate either major depressive disorder or persistent depressive disorder.
A loss of energy and chronic feelings of fatigue can be symptoms of both persistent depressive disorder and major depressive disorder. Feeling tired most of the time can interfere with an individual’s capability to function usually.
Feelings of Worthlessness or Guilt
Excessive, inappropriate guilt and feelings of worthlessness are general symptoms of major depressive disorder. The feelings of guilt may be so severe they become delusional.
Both major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder involve difficulty concentrating and making decisions. Individuals with depression may recognize this in themselves or others around them may notice that they’re struggling to think visibly.
Suicide prevention methods and treatment are based on patient risk factors. Treatments are prescribed in light of underlying conditions in addition to prevention of suicidal thoughts and acts. If you are suffering from a mental disorder, a treatment plan to treat this condition is implemented first. One of the most common suicide prevention techniques is psychotherapy— also known as talk therapy —in the form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a common treatment option for individuals suffering from a variety of mental disorders. In this method of psychotherapy, you are taught new ways of dealing with stress and stressful life experiences. In this manner, when thoughts of suicide arise, you can redirect those thoughts and cope with them in a different way than attempting to take your own life.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy is used to help an individual recognize disruptive or unhealthy feelings or actions. In relation, this therapy method then introduces techniques on how to deal with difficult or troubling situations. More research is needed on psychotherapy related to suicide prevention though, as DBT, in particular, has been shown to decrease the prevalence of attempted suicide but has shown no effect on completed suicides.
Medications can also be prescribed as a prevention method to suicide; however, controversy exists in this method, as many medications used in the treatment of mental disorders include increased risk of suicide as a side effect. Antidepressants especially carry a risk of a potential increase in suicidal thoughts and behavior—but this risk might be dependent on age. Clinical research has shown that young adults increase their risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts when taking antidepressants, but in older individuals, this side effect diminishes.
Increased awareness among doctors is also a prevention technique. Research indicates that many individuals who have completed suicide or attempted suicide did seek medical attention in the year prior; however, warning signs may have been missed. Increased education and awareness among medical professionals might decrease suicide rates in the future.
If You Need support
If you know of someone who is suicidal, do not leave the person alone. Attempt to get them immediate help from their medical provider, hospital Remove access to dangerous items, such as firearms, medications, or other potential risks.