Treating depression can reduce suicide risk factors and debilitating symptoms. Suicidal behavior is one of the most serious depression symptoms, and one that may require emergency treatment and hospitalization.
Suicide Risk Factors Related to Depression
Depression and suicide risk factors are a dangerous combination. Depression produces feelings of despair, worthlessness and guilt that can contribute to suicidal behavior. Not all suicide risk factors, however, are related to depression, such as:
- Personal crisis
- Physical illness.
Depression symptoms that are also suicide risk factors include:
- Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
- Frequent thoughts of suicide or death
- Frustration and anger over small events
- Loss of interest in activities often found pleasurable
- Overwhelming sadness or hopelessness.
In a teen, depression symptoms may be slightly different than in an adult. Teen depression symptoms may include:
- Loss of interest in friendships
- Running away from home (or threatening to do so)
- Worsening school grades.
Homosexual teens have higher rates of suicide than other adolescents, due to hostility and rejection by peers, family members and the larger community.
Other adult and teen suicide risk factors include:
- Being incarcerated
- Domestic violence
- Exposure to suicidal behavior
- Family history of suicide
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Previous suicide attempts
- Social isolation
- Substance abuse
Emergency Treatment for Suicidal Behavior
Suicidal behavior or a suicide attempt is an emergency and a person threatening to commit suicide should always be taken seriously. The individual should not be left alone and should be kept away from any item that could be used for suicide, including medications, firearms, knives, and poisons.
While you can take the individual to an emergency room, calling 911 for emergency assistance may be a better course of action. Calling 911 is also the best option if the person has already tried to commit suicide and requires medical treatment.
In an attempted suicide, any injuries caused by the attempt will be treated first. If suicide was threatened but not attempted, doctors will evaluate the suicidal individual’s mental state. If the patient is judged suicidal, hospitalization may be recommended. Suicidal patients may resist hospitalization, but in most states, doctors can hospitalize a patient against his will if he is a danger to himself or others.
Once under medical care, the doctor will determine the underlying cause of suicidal behavior. Depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse and other mental disorders are the most common causes of suicidal behavior, although some physical conditions can also trigger suicidal acts.
Depression is a common cause of suicidal behavior, and depression medication may be prescribed to reduce suicidal symptoms. Depression and suicide treatment is also likely to include psychotherapy that teaches healthy responses to situations that trigger suicidal behavior.
Substance abuse is often seen in combination with depression and suicide attempts. Successfully treating depression is only possible if coexisting substance abuse is also addressed
Merck Manuals Online Medical Library Staff. (2008). Suicidal behavior. Retrieved May 17, 2010, from the Merck website: www.merck.com/mmhe/sec07/ch102/ch102a.html.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). Depression (major depression). Retrieved May 20, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic website: www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression/ds00175/dsection=symptoms.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). Suicide and suicidal thoughts. Retrieved May 17, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic website: www.mayoclinic.com/health/suicide/DS01062/METHOD=print.
Psych Central Staff. (2006). Teen depression symptoms. Retrieved May 20, 2010 from the Psych Central website: psychcentral.com/library/teen_depression_symptoms.htm.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Staff. (n.d.). Preventing suicide. Retrieved May 18, 2010, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: www.cdc.gov/Features/PreventingSuicide/.