September 26, 2022
Suicidal Depression: How to Prevent It
Written by Sara Lane
Suicide is an ever growing epidemic in our day. There are many catalysts for suicidal depression – out of our control.
Feeling sad, downhearted, and blue is a normal part of the human experience. Everyone has bad days or goes through rough patches.
However, when we have persistent feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and desperation, that’s when it’s time to reach out for professional support. Counselors are here for you during those dark times.
- Have you been feeling hopeless, worthless, overwhelmed, guilty, irritable, angry, vengeful, or unfocused?
- Do you feel trapped – like there’s no way out?
If you have been thinking about suicide or self-harm, please know that help is available.
The pain you are feeling is legitimate and real: don’t feel as if you should just “suck it up” and keep slogging ahead while you’re hurting so badly.
If you had a broken leg, you’d probably see a doctor and get a cast put on your leg, right?
Please know that suicidal feelings are TEMPORARY, and suicidal behavior is NOT a sign of weakness, nor is it a character defect.
We can help you get out of the black hole of suicidal thinking.
These therapist-approved tips are meant to provide a better understanding of:
- suicidal ideation and how to prevent it, as well as
- major depressive disorder
What is Depression?
Depression is a chronic mental health condition that can be caused by a variety of factors. This disorder affects one’s mood, ability to function, and overall energy level.
In fact, major depressive disorder – also referred to as clinical depression – carries multiple symptoms:
- Feeling sad, anxious, or stressed most of the time
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Memory problems
- Not enjoying things you previously loved to do
- Difficulty concentrating
- Appetite changes (increase or decrease)
- A sense of worthlessness or hopelessness
- Difficulty coping with the stress of day-to-day life
A doctor or therapist can help diagnose this condition during a consultation.
They may ask questions to get a sense of how far this condition has progressed, such as:
- How are you sleeping?
- Do you have enough energy throughout the day?
- Have you had any thoughts of suicide?
- In the past week, how often have you felt hopeless, sad, or depressed?
- What are some things you enjoy doing? How often do you do those things?
These interview questions will help your therapist prescribe the right treatment plan meant just for you. It is their goal to help you improve both your mood and overall quality of life.
By being brave and speaking to your doctor about depression, they may have various treatment options for you. These can include prescription medication, finding the right counselor to talk to, in-patient hospitalization, or even lifestyle changes.
To treat depression, the first step is reaching out for help. It may be intimidating to speak up, but telling someone you can trust about your feelings is an essential aspect of recovery.
How Do I Know if Someone is Struggling with Suicide?
As a concerned loved one, you want to be a support however you can.
While each person and their mental health are unique, there are some common best practices that you can follow to be there for your loved ones in times of grief.
- Tim Bergling, lead singer of Avicii.
- Robin Williams, beloved actor and philosopher.
- Chris Benoit, professional wrestler.
- Chester Bennington, singer of Linkin Park.
- Marilyn Monroe, historic actress.
These fun-loving celebrities who appeared to be on top of the world on the outside, tragically ended their lives too soon. Unfortunately, many of these individuals chose to hide their struggle instead of sharing their inner turmoil.
It is important to note that while someone may not appear to be struggling with suicidal depression on the outside, their pain may be hidden by a mask.
Trying to appear happier than how we feel on the inside is a common practice in American culture, but it is not conducive to treating suicidal depression.
In fact, hiding feelings of sadness or being lost can be a detriment to moving forward. In some cases, it can be a fatal factor in not seeking treatment in people who experience suicidal depression.
An important first step is to check in with friends and family members that you trust. If you suspect that someone may be experiencing suicidal depression, asking them how they are really doing can help.
If you feel that someone is suicidal, talking them through their feelings can be a step in the right direction.
These 6 questions can be asked to get a better sense of how someone is feeling, and how severe their symptoms are:
- Have you wished you were dead or wished you could go to sleep and not wake up?
- Have you actually had any thoughts about killing yourself?
- Have you thought about how you might do this?
- Have you had any intention of acting on these thoughts of killing yourself?
- Have you started to work out or worked out the details of how to kill yourself? Do you intend to carry out this plan?
- In the past three months, have you started to do anything or prepared to do anything to end your life?
While not everyone may be forthcoming talking about suicide or depression, asking someone how they’re doing shows your care and concern, and lets them know they are cared for.
If you personally are experiencing suicidal thoughts or chronically feeling down – don’t go it alone. It can be intimidating to speak up about how you feel, but confiding in a trustworthy friend or family member can make your bond stronger and significantly improve your mental health.
Warning Signs of Suicide
- Noticeable signs of serious depression
- Unrelenting low mood and pessimism
- Hopelessness and desperation
- Anxiety, unbearable pain and inner tension
- Overwhelming, inappropriate guilt
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and activities
- Unexpected rage or anger
- Recent, uncharacteristic impulsiveness and recklessness
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Increased alcohol and/or other drug use
- Expressing no reason for living or no sense of purpose in life
- Threatening suicide or expressing a strong desire to die
- Making a plan and obtaining means of killing oneself
Imminent signs must be taken seriously, so if you or a friend or loved one is in an acute crisis, go to the nearest emergency room, walk-in clinic, or psychiatric hospital. Do not leave the person alone (be by yourself) until professional help is with him/her/you.
Does Depression Cause Suicide?
With the rise of psychology in the 20th century, our understanding of the brain and its inner workings has increased tremendously. However, there is much we do not know about the causes of depression.
To date, no one has presented a blood test, invention, or other tool to test what causes depression; however, modern science has yielded many insights into the development of this disease.
While much research has yet to be done on the causes and cures for suicidal depression, several factors are known to contribute to this disorder. These can include:
- Childhood trauma
- Neurochemistry (the brain’s DNA)
- Lack of important neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin
- Adverse life events
- Grief & loss
- Financial problems
- Chronic pain & illness
While none of these factors specifically cause depression, they can contribute to the onset of the symptoms of major depressive disorder.
The Facts as We Know Them
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is a leading cause of death for people in the United States.
In 2020, there were 45,979 reported suicide deaths – that’s about one person committing suicide every 11 minutes.
Even more American adults report suicidal ideation, or the thoughts of following through with ending their life. In 2020, an estimated 12.2 million adults “seriously thought about suicide”, in addition to almost 4.5 suicide plans or attempts.
On a global scale, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 703,000 people die from suicide every year. It’s the 4th leading cause of death among 15-19 year olds.
How Can I Prevent Suicide?
The single most important factor in determining suicide risk is a previous suicide attempt. If you or someone you know has attempted suicide in the past, their risk for suicide increases significantly.
To prevent tragedy from striking, it’s important to reach out if you or someone you love is experiencing suicidal depression.
If someone you know is experiencing suicide or depression…
Be brave. Your compassionate heart is evident in the fact that you’re reading this article at all. You want to support your loved ones through their struggles. Sometimes that means asking them hard questions.
If you suspect someone is considering suicide or experiencing depression, encourage them to speak up.
Ask them questions like the interview above, and let them know that you are there for them when they need you.
They may not be willing to talk about suicidal thoughts or depression right away, and that’s normal. Even if they show anger or shame during the conversion, the fact that you are asking them shows that you care about them.
Of course, it’s always important to respect personal boundaries and autonomy in these situations. However, if you are met with resistance in your first conversation — don’t give up.
Find ways to show your support and start difficult conversations as long as you have concerns.
If your loved one is considering reaching out for help from a doctor, therapist, or in-patient clinic, offer your support.
- Give them a ride to their first appointment.
- Catch up with lunch afterwards.
- Call to chat about their treatment plan post-appointment.
However you show your love, it is deeply felt in times of crisis.
If you feel like your loved one needs more care than you can provide, reaching out to a counselor for your own self-care can be a healthy way to take care of your own mental health. Additionally, you can find caregiving resources and chat support online at 988 Suicide & Crisis Center.
If you are experiencing suicidal depression…
You’re being brave. The fact that you are reaching out in the midst of your struggle, and reading as far as this, speaks volumes to your commitment.
While starting a conversation with a trustworthy friend or family member may feel daunting, it can make all the difference in the journey moving forward.
First, find someone you can trust. This can be a friend, confidante, family member, or a pastor. This person should be someone you trust to keep your confidence, and support you on your journey towards mental health.
Then, speak to them about what you’ve been experiencing. Broaching a conversation about suicide or depression can be as simple as saying:
- “I’ve been feeling down a lot lately. I’m not sure what to do about it…”
- “Sometimes I just feel like a burden to everyone around me. Have you ever felt that way?”
- “I’ve been thinking about death a lot lately. Here’s what I’m thinking and feeling…”
- “I think I need some help. Can you listen to me talk about something really important?”
- “Thank you for being there for me. I need you.”
While it can be intimidating to speak to someone about suicidal thoughts and depression, the chances are that they’ve been waiting to have a conversation with you and have noticed that something is off.
We’re Here for You
No matter what circumstances brought you here, we want to walk beside you through this journey towards mental health.
If you or a loved one is experiencing depression, one of our trained therapists is here to provide support every step of the way. Chat with one of our intake specialists today to get started and book your first appointment.
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