The topic of suicide and mental health has always been a complicated one because of the variability in opinions as well as the sensitivity of the subject at hand. Exploring the effect of psychological conditions, such as depression, on suicide is essential in order to understand the nature of the occurrence as well as develop solutions for addressing the issue. Thus, while there is a range of complications and environments that contribute to the occurrence of suicide among people, depression is one of the key risk factors that should never be overlooked in the prevention and assessment.
While the overarching majority of people who struggle with depression do not resort to suicide, having major depression increases the risk of its occurrence compared to people who do not have the condition. Scholars have explored the association between the two issues, and there had been some mixed findings. For example, according to the study by Shahtahmasebi (2013), there has been a considerable bias applied to research on links between suicide and depression, thus disproving the statistic the 80-90% of suicide cases stemmed from depression. However, Brådvik (2018), who applied a stress-diathesis model for exploring the issue, found that suicide risk is multi-factorial, with mental health issues plating one of the most critical roles. Moreover, Cleare et al. (2018) also found that adverse childhood experiences that contribute to depressive outcomes in adulthood can lead to more severe consequences ranging from self-harm to suicide.
Since suicide is a multi-factorial issue, it is vital to understand the behaviors that are observed in individuals who are more likely to think about committing it. For example, according to the findings of the National Institutes of Mental Health (2019), suicidal individuals usually withdraw from their family and friends, talk about the feeling of being trapped, feel emotional pain associated with mental trauma, act anxious and agitate, change their eating and sleeping habits, and display extreme mood swings. These behaviors align with symptoms of depression, which include sleep disturbances or sleeping too much, agitation and anxiety, feelings of hopelessness and sadness, irritability, reduced appetite or increased food cravings, and others. The similarities between the behaviors of suicidal and depressive individuals point to the fact that prior to having suicidal thoughts, individuals are highly likely to have experienced depression, which has exasperated into more severe behaviors and conditions. For people with extreme levels of depressive symptoms, multiple complications are causing noticeable problems in everyday activities, including work, school, various social interactions, and relationships with other people. The majority of depressed individuals feel unhappy and may not often understand the reasons for their unhappiness and negative thoughts. In the most extreme cases of depression, suicide can become a thought.
Suicide is not a ‘spur of the moment’ occurrence, and individuals who commit it are highly likely to have symptoms of extreme depression or other mental health disorders. Behavioral patterns inherent to depression, which have been discussed above, align with behaviors of suicidal individuals, pointing to the possible connection between the two factors. While depression is one of the greatest contributors to suicide among people, it is imperative to understand that each case is unique and it is important not to generalize suicide as related to depression alone. Further research on the issue is needed because of the mixed findings of current studies.
Brådvik, L. (2018). Suicide Risk and Mental Disorders. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(9), 2028.
Cleare, S., Wetherall, K., Clark, A., Ryan, C., Kirtley, O., Smith, M., & O’Connor, R. (2018). Adverse childhood experiences and hospital-treated self-harm. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(6). E1235.
National Institutes of Mental Health. (2019). Suicide prevention. Web.
Shahtahmasebi, S. (2013). Examining the Claim that 80-90% of Suicide Cases Had Depression. Frontiers in Public Health, 1, 62.