Is depression the leading cause of suicide

Is Depression the Leading Cause of Suicide? Unlocking the Truth

Writen By: Saba Khan
Reviewed By: Huma Khan
Publish Date: September 9, 2023

As a last resort, you are surfing and skimming through the internet, looking for anything that would help the voice inside your head calm down a little. How many times have you asked yourself, Is depression the leading cause of suicide?

The suicidal thoughts you are having are making you feel worthless and without any purpose, leading you to end your life and free yourself from this prison-like world where you have no place. If that is how you feel, then you are not alone. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, over 800,000 people feel this way, with depression being the leading cause of suicide, hence leading us back to our question, ‘Is depression the leading cause of suicide?’

It is totally okay to get tired and weary of living and have suicidal thoughts. One in every ten people has these thoughts on a daily basis given the generational isolations, competitions in every field, relationship issues, workload, societal pressures, and unemployment increasing day by day.

The fact that you landed on this blog means you are looking for answers to questions like: Is depression the leading cause of suicide? Can depression cause suicidal thoughts? Or How does depression cause suicidal thoughts? All of this is merely because you are having symptoms of depression, and your only help is yourself.

But trust me, you are going to get all the answers today, and also the ways to cope up with your suicidal thoughts. The first step in this journey was to identify the problem, which you successfully did. The next step is to educate yourself about the ailment for which you are here, and the last step is rather an executionary one in nature, where you genuinely treat yourself.

For this sole reason, let us first know in detail about depression and suicide, and then we will find out, Is depression the leading cause of suicide or not.

DEPRESSION:

Depression is a mental health disorder that results in a constant feeling of sorrow and a loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities. It is usually classified in the category of mood disorders. It can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings, and sense of well-being. 

Depression is a common mental health condition, affecting an estimated 280 million people worldwide. It is more common in women than in men. Depression can occur at any age, but it is most common in adults aged 25–44.

Depression can be mild, moderate, or severe and can last for weeks, months, or even years. Mild or moderate depression is, to some extent, manageable, but severe depression does not usually end well and may take the person down the suicidal trail, also known as major depressive disorder with suicidal thoughts in medical terms. To simplify it for our enlightened readers, it is commonly known as suicidal depression. There are different patterns of depressive episodes, including: 

1. Single episode depressive disorder: It means that this person had a single and only episode of depression, likely to never happen again.

2. Recurrent depressive disorder: It means that this person has previously had repeated depressive episodes, with the minimum number being two.

3. Bipolar disorder: People with bipolar disorder experience alternating periods of depression and mania. During mania, people may feel euphoric, irritable, or have increased energy and activity levels. They may also talk more than usual, have racing thoughts, feel very good about themselves, need less sleep, be easily distracted, or engage in impulsive or reckless behaviors.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION:

The level of suicidal tendencies depends on the presence and severity of depression symptoms. The symptoms, if persisted for more than 2 weeks, are considered an alarming sign. Moreover, if a person shows five or more symptoms, it is advised to discuss them with a nearby clinical psychologist, who might well catch the root cause of the issue and be able to timely counsel them. Some of the generic symptoms are given below:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, or empty. 
  • Thoughts about dying or suicide
  • Not enjoying things that you used to enjoy.
  • Losing or gaining a significant amount of weight without trying.
  • Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.
  • Slow or agitated psychomotor skills (Moving more slowly or more quickly than usual)
  • Feeling tired all the time.
  • Feeling like you are worthless or that you have done something wrong, even if you haven’t.
  • Having trouble thinking clearly or concentrating on tasks.
  • Having thoughts of death or suicide, or making plans to hurt yourself.

How does the brain depression mechanism work inside the brain?

Just to quench your curiosity, the mechanism of depression inside our brain works like so: 

Our brain nerves don’t physically touch each other. Instead, they communicate with each other through chemicals called neurotransmitters. The right amount of these chemicals is needed to pass messages accurately from one nerve to the next. If there’s not enough of a certain neurotransmitter, the message may not be passed correctly, which can lead to depression. Serotonin and norepinephrine are two of the most common neurotransmitters that are out of balance in people with depression. 

A person with depression may have completely different thoughts and feelings during a depressive episode than they do when they are not depressed. Hence, the chemical imbalance leads to different thought patterns than a normal rational man would have. Hence, the chemical imbalance in brain makes them see suicide as their only best option and they forget about consequences.

SUICIDE:

Suicide is the deliberate act of bringing about one’s own death. It is the tenth most common cause of mortality in the US, making it a critical public health concern. Numerous things, such as mental health issues, substance misuse, and upsetting life events, might lead to suicide. 

Warning signs of suicide include: 

  • Abrupt mood swings from intense sadness/irritability to shared calmness 
  • Changes in behavioral patterns become impulsive.
  • Looking for ways to harm oneself.  
  • Having marks of cuts or bruises on their body 
  • Talking about death directly or indirectly
  • Giving away possessions. 
  • Saying unexpected goodbyes
  • Put an end to life. 

DOES DEPRESSION CAUSE SUICIDE?

Usually, people around the person who has depression are unaware of the actual hell the depressed person is going through. They are completely unaware and usually show carelessness as to whether the depression can be real or if it can be this severe to lead to ending one’s own life? Or does depression cause suicide? This carelessness and apathy on the part of family members, friends, and partners leads to suicide by the depressed person since they feel lonely.

People with depression may not realize that their depression is treatable and that there are people who can help them. They may feel hopeless, like there is no way out. They may also feel like they are burdening others with their problems. However, it is important to remember that Depression is a serious condition, and it is important to seek help if you are experiencing it. 

Here are reasons and evidence to support the connection between depression and suicide:

1. Hopelessness and Despair:

Persistent feelings of emptiness come from a place of loneliness and despair, simply being without purpose, which occurs due to depression. Hence, leading to suicidal thoughts.

2. Contributing to Impaired Judgment:

Depression interferes with a person’s ability to judge and discern what’s good for them. This usually happens due to an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, which interferes with their ability to think about their past happy moments and about their future when in an episode of depression. Hence, they only see suicide as their best chance at living.

3. Suicidal Ideation: 

Suicidal ideation, which precedes suicide attempts, is highly correlated with depressive symptoms such as feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and on-going unhappiness.

4. High Prevalence of Depression Among Suicide Victims:

Numerous studies have shown a strong association between depression and suicide. A significant percentage (50%, according to the WHO) of individuals who die by suicide have a history of depression or other mood disorders.

5. Comorbidity with Other Risk Factors:

Depression commonly co-occurs with other suicide risk factors, such as substance abuse, long-term physical illness, or a traumatic past, which increases the risk.

6. Effectiveness of Treatment:

Evidence shows that when depression is dealt with, suicidal thoughts vanish like they never existed. When psychotherapy, medications, and lifestyle changes are incorporated, it ends depression and ultimately sways suicidal thoughts away.  This suggests a strong connection between depression and suicide.

7. Improved Mental Health Treatment: 

There has been a commensurate decline in suicide rates in areas where mental health treatment and awareness have improved. This suggests that treating depression and other mental health conditions can have a favorable effect on preventing suicide. E.g., in the organized and educated West, suicide rates were significantly declining when people started paying attention to them.

8. Psychological Autopsies:

Psychological autopsies are frequently carried out following a suicide to comprehend the subject’s mental state prior to passing away. Investigations like this frequently turn up evidence of prior untreated or inadequately treated depression, which provides huge evidence on depression and suicide’s interlinkage.

OTHER CAUSES OF SUICIDE:

  • A person’s family history of suicide might also persuade them to commit suicide. 
  • Apart from depression, other mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder can also lead to suicide risk.
  • Throughout life, many significant losses, like relationship crisis, financial issues, unemployment, or family problems, can lead to an increase in suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
  • Substance abuse and addiction can impair judgment and increase impulsivity, making individuals more prone to suicidal actions.
  • Feelings of despair and risk of contributing to suicide can be further exacerbated by chronic physical illnesses, severe pain, or terminal diagnoses. 
  • Impulsive suicidal actions may occur easily when firearms or lethal things are easily accessible to them. 
  • Individuals with a history of suicide attempts before are at a higher risk of future attempts or completing suicide.
  • Suicidal tendencies are more frequent in people with feelings of loneliness, lack of social support, and isolation. 
  • Cultural or religious beliefs that stigmatize mental health issues or suicide can inhibit help-seeking behavior and increase feelings of shame, elevating risk.

IS DEPRESSION THE LEADING CAUSE OF SUICIDE?

Universities are conducting research on “Is depression the leading cause of suicide?” because in the west, many people are committing suicide due to depression. Depression is indeed one of the leading causes of suicide among others, according to the WHO, although it’s important to note that the relationship between depression and suicide is complex. To further substantiate the claim, few research studies have provided empirical data on ‘Is depression the leading cause of suicide? 

Recognized Risk Factor

Depression has been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the key risk factors for suicide. Around 800,000 suicides were reported worldwide in 2015, and 78% of all completed suicides worldwide occurred in low- and middle-income countries, according to a study published on Pubmed called Epidemiology of Suicide and the Psychiatric Perspective, which presented real data gathered from various resources on suicide’s causes. Globally, 1.4% of premature deaths are caused by suicide. According to research, depression accounted for 30% of all global mortality from non-natural causes at the start of the twenty-first century.

RATIO OF SUICIDES CAUSED BY DEPRESSION

Suicide is a major symptom of depression as well as its consequence. The statistics given below are evidence of the fact that Depression is the leading cause of suicide. To know more about how many suicides are caused by depression, Secondary research data has also been provided:

  1. According to the World Health Organization, every year, around 700,000 people commit suicide. 
  2. For people aged 15 to 29, suicide is the fourth most common cause of death. 
  3. WHO predicts that by the year 2030, depression will be the leading cause of disability worldwide (World Federation for Mental Health, 2012).
  4. An estimated 3.8% of the population, including 5% of adults (4% of men and 6% of women) and 5.7% of those over 60, experience depression. 
  5. Around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression.  
  6. Women are around 50% more likely than men to experience depression. More than 10% of pregnant and recently delivered women experience depression globally. 

A survey conducted by the Center for Suicide Prevention in Canada revealed the following statistics:

  1. According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal (2013), 5-8.2% of the population of Canada experiences a major depressive episode in a given year.
  2. The probability of suicide over the course of one’s life is 2.2-15% for those with untreated depression.
  3. Of all suicides, at least 50% involve depression.
  4. The risk of suicide is 25 times higher for people with depression than for the general population (American Association of Suicidology, 2014).
  5. There is evidence that serious depression affects 50–80% of elderly people who commit suicide.
  6. According to the Mood Disorders Society of Canada (2013), just one-third of depressed people seek treatment.

Hence, from the above statistics on How many suicides are caused by depression and/or What percentage of suicides are caused by depression, it is obvious that depression is one of the leading causes of suicide that ends in death. Depression makes a person vulnerable enough and out of their minds to make them see death as their only escape. 

HOW TO PREVENT SUICIDAL THOUGHTS?

If you are the guardian, a friend, or a family member of someone with depression and are not sure how to help someone with suicidal tendencies, You’ve landed in the right place. In this article, we are going to discuss in detail how to prevent suicidal thoughts and deal with them if you or a loved one is suicidal. These are given below:

1. Don’t Panic:

If your loved one or someone around you is trying to commit suicide, you, as a second person watching, should remain calm. Control your nerves and don’t panic in the heat of the moment, or else the suicidal person might get triggered.

2. Respond effectively to the individuals in crisis: 

Be vigilant in expanding care and support to those in dire need of it. Try to ask for help from experts if they cannot do it themselves.  Hotlines and helplines are simply one part of the whole continuum of care, which also includes mobile crisis teams, walk-in crisis clinics, hospital-based psychiatric emergency services, and peer-support initiatives. Crisis services evaluate, stabilize, and refer clients to ongoing care in order to immediately address the risk of suicide. 

3. Identify those at risk:

Always look for the signs and catch the slightest of hints if you think somebody has suicidal tendencies, as they may not always extend a hand for help. E.g., if your friend says an emotional goodbye to you, it could be enough of a reason that they are quitting life. 

4. Listening ear:

Oftentimes, it happens that they need someone with whom they can talk openly and who will not judge them for their thoughts or call them otherwise. This is a major flaw on the part of family members and people around them in society that they judge individuals having suicidal thoughts when all they need is the opposite of it. It can do wonders and literally save the life of the other person. 

5. Asking direct questions: 

It is a huge myth that asking direct questions is going to trigger the person’s suicidal thoughts, while asking them directly about suicide can help the individual open up and be vocal about it. If this kind of carelessness is avoided, nobody will have to weep later over the death of their loved one. 

6. Increase help seeking: 

If your friend is at risk, ask their [parents to check up on them for some time. Talk about their mental health and behavior in social settings with their parents and take it seriously. 

7. Reduce access to means of suicide: 

It is important to remove such stuff from the access of those having suicidal tendencies. Examples of measures to restrict access to lethal means include teaching crisis-affected individuals’ relatives how to safely store firearms and pharmaceuticals, distributing gun safety locks, modifying the packaging of medications, keeping knives away, and erecting barriers on bridges. 

8. Promote social connectedness: 

Despite having risk factors in their lives, supportive relationships and a sense of community can help prevent suicide for some people. Social programs tailored to certain population groups and other initiatives that lessen loneliness, build a sense of community, and nurture emotionally supportive relationships are two ways to improve connectedness. Asking parents to check up on them at night or when they are alone and vulnerable.

9. Enhance life skills:

You may equip people to deal with difficulties like financial stress, divorce, physical sickness, and aging safely by assisting them in developing life skills like critical thinking, stress management, and coping. Resilience, or the capacity to overcome obstacles and adjust to change, is a mitigating factor in the risk of suicide. Although it shares some similarities with life skills, resilience also includes traits like optimism, a positive self-concept, and the capacity to hold onto hope. Examples of strategies to improve life skills and foster resilience include skill development, mobile apps, and self-help resources.

10. Raising awareness: 

Given the stigma attached, people really don’t seek help. It is important to raise awareness through suicide and depression campaigns to stop stigmatizing it and make it easy for those with suicidal tendencies to seek help and save lives. Groups with the task of teaching laymen how to cope with suicidal tendencies, by moving from region to region to extend help and awareness.

TREATMENT FOR DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE:

Treatment for suicidal depression has already been mentioned in our previous article. There are many effective treatments available, and you do not have to go through this alone. Coping strategies and lifestyle changes are game changers when it comes to depression. You do not have to feel like an outcast. Suicidal depression and having persistent thoughts of ending your life are not irreversible tasks. These are both preventable and treatable. By now you already are aware of the answer to your query, ‘Is depression the leading cause of suicide?’ and the reason to remind you of it is that to stop these self harming thoughts, you first need to put an end to depression.

  1. Psychiatric treatments: 

In cases like these, where severe depression hits an individual, antidepressants can be advised to prevent suicide. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine, are common antidepressant drugs prescribed in cases of chronic depression. Healthcare providers should take into consideration the side effects of taking antidepressants and only use them as a last resort. They may also educate the patients about its excessive usage. For the record, drugs are usually not prescribed to children and adolescents for safety purposes.

  1. Psychological treatments: 

Psychotherapy is a different discipline than psychiatry, which teaches new ways of thinking, coping, or interacting with others. They might consist of supervised lay therapists and professional talk therapy. Both in-person and online talk therapy are options at hand. Access to psychological therapy is possible via self-help books, websites, and applications. These include: behavioral activation,cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and problem-solving therapy.

  1. Self care: 

Self care can help a lot by keeping depression symptoms at bay for long time. Some of the coping strategies for depression are given below::

  • Make yourself a priority
  • Be your own alter ego
  • Enjoy the activities that give you pleasure.
  • stay connected and become more social.
  • exercise regularly, even if it’s just a short walk
  • Make regular eating and sleeping habits.Rigorously follow them.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol consumption, and abstain from using illegal substances, which might exacerbate depression.
  • Become vocal about how you feel. Be open to someone talking about it.
  • Don’t hesitate to seek help from anyone.
  • Be your own alter ego. 
  • Fake happiness, and one day you will feel it.

If you feel like having suicidal thoughts, then

  • Look for a purpose in your life.
  • Think of your loved ones
  • Have strong will to push against all odds
  • Talk to someone close
  • Look for reasons to stay alive as opposed to ending it altogether
  • Maintain a daily diary, which would help you reflect on things a little more.
  • Reach out for professional help 
  • Join support groups 
  • REMEMBER you are not alone 
  1. Psychoeducation:

The practice of formal education groups led by mental health experts is known as psychoeducation, and it is used to educate patients about their depression. As patients understand how to live with and cope with their disease and what treatment options and resources are available, this self-knowledge can act as an empowering therapy.

Conclusion: 

By now you must be having your answer to the query: ‘Is depression the leading cause of suicide?’ To wrap it up, depression doesn’t end well, and it surely is the leading cause of suicide. If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression, it is imperative for you to contact a psychologist or psychiatrist to dig out the cause of your depression and help you battle with it.

All of this is necessary to save your life because suicide is not the end of everything, and neither should it be a choice or an option to be considered. Ask yourself, What change would your suicide bring? Or what good would it do you or your family if you died? If the answer is no, then do Consider Living because it is valued, and so are you. Every human being is cherished, and even if not, you are your own. Stay strong! 

FAQS

Is depression the main cause of death?

Depression leads to suicide, which causes death. It is not a direct causative agent of death itself; rather, it leads to self harming efforts by an individual under the influence of chronic depression. 

Is untreated depression the leading cause of suicide?

Yes, depression, if untreated, can be a major contributing factor among others to suicide, which can be lethal. The lifetime rate of suicide among individuals with untreated depressive disorders is nearly 20%. Hence, depression is the leading cause of suicide.

Which gender gets more depressed?

Depression is about twice as common in women as it is in men. Any age can experience depression, but females’ tendency is a little higher because females are more sensitive and emotional by nature than men. Hence, they get easily depressed.

Is depression the leading cause of suicide in teens? 

Indeed, depression is the leading cause of suicide in teens. The reason is that teen age is the most vulnerable of all, and during this age, bullying and sensitivity to other things may cause depression in teens, which can ultimately cause suicide.