Depression and Suicide
Depression is an illness that makes you feel sad, lose interest in things you used to enjoy, and withdraw from others. It's more than normal sadness, grief, or low energy. Treatment can help you enjoy life again.
What is the connection between depression and suicide?
People who have depression may feel so bad that they think about suicide. They may feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless. They may see suicide as a way to solve their problems or end their pain.
Other symptoms of depression, besides suicidal behavior, include:
- Feeling sad, empty, or tearful nearly every day.
- Losing interest in activities that the person enjoyed in the past.
- Sleeping or eating more or less than usual.
- Having trouble thinking and concentrating.
- Having headaches or stomachaches.
- Feeling very tired.
- Feeling guilty and/or not letting others praise or reward them.
Take any mention of suicide seriously. If someone talks about suicide, self-harm, or feeling hopeless, get help right away.
What puts a person at risk for suicide?
Things that may put a person at risk of suicide include their personal history and stressful life events.
People may be at higher risk of suicide if they:
- Have attempted suicide before.
- Have a family history of suicide.
- Have mental health problems such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety.
- Misuse alcohol or drugs.
- Have been through family violence, including sexual abuse.
- Have access to means of suicide, such as a gun or pills.
- Live alone or don't have many social contacts.
- Are LGBTQ+. Issues like discrimination and abuse can contribute to an increased risk.
Life changes that may increase suicide risk include:
- The death of a partner or good friend.
- Stressful life changes, such as retirement, divorce, or money problems.
- The diagnosis of a serious physical illness, such as cancer, or a new physical disability.
- Loss of independence.
What are the warning signs to watch for?
Warning signs of suicide in adults include:
- Talking or writing about wanting to die or to hurt or kill themselves or someone else.
- Saying they feel hopeless, trapped, without purpose, in pain, or like they're a burden to others.
- Looking for ways to harm themselves. For example, they may buy a gun or stockpile medicines.
- Increasing their use of alcohol or drugs.
- Withdrawing from family, friends, and activities.
- Seeming angry, grumpy, anxious, or depressed.
- Eating or sleeping less or more than usual.
- Doing risky things, like driving too fast.
- Giving away their belongings.
Where to get help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
If you or someone you know talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away. You can:
- Call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
- Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
- Text HOME to 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line.
Consider saving these numbers in your phone.
Current as of: February 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Christine R. Maldonado PhD - Behavioral Health