Some Facts about Suicide and Depression

Some Facts about Suicide and Depression


Depression is the most prevalent mental health disorder. The lifetime risk for depression is 6 to 25%. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 9.5% or 20.9 million American adults suffer from a depressive illness in any given year.

There are two types of depression. In major depression, the symptoms listed below interfere with one’s ability to function in all areas of life (work, family, sleep, etc). In dysthymia, the symptoms are not as severe but still impede one’s ability to function at normal levels.

Common symptoms of depression, reoccurring almost every day:

A family history of depression (i.e., a parent) increases the chances (by 11 times) than a child will also have depression.

The treatment of depression is effective 60 to 80% of the time. However, according the World Health Organization, less than 25% of individuals with depression receive adequate treatment.

If left untreated, depression can lead to co-morbid (occurring at the same time) mental disorders such as alcohol and substance abuse, higher rates of recurrent episodes and higher rates of suicide.


In 2007, suicide was the eleventh leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming 34,598 lives. Suicide rates among youth (ages 15-24) have increased more than 200% in the last fifty years. The suicide rate is also very high for the elderly (age 85+).

Four times more men than women kill themselves; but three times more women than men attempt suicide.

Suicide occurs across ethnic, economic, social and age boundaries.

Suicide is preventable. Most suicidal people desperately want to live; they are just unable to see alternatives to their problems. Most suicidal people give definite warning signals of their suicidal intentions, but others are often unaware of the significance of these warnings or unsure what to do about them.

Talking about suicide does not cause someone to become suicidal.

Surviving family members not only suffer the loss of a loved one to suicide, but are also themselves at higher risk of suicide and emotional problems.


Major depression is the psychiatric diagnosis most commonly associated with suicide. Lifetime risk of suicide among patients with untreated depressive disorder is nearly 20% (Gotlib & Hammen, 2002). The suicide risk among treated patients is 141/100,000 (Isacsson et al, 2000).

About 2/3 of people who complete suicide are depressed at the time of their deaths.

About 7 out of every hundred men and 1 out of every hundred women who have been diagnosed with depression in their lifetime will go on to complete suicide.

The risk of suicide in people with major depression is about 20 times that of the general population.

Individuals who have had multiple episodes of depression are at greater risk for suicide than those who have had one episode.

People who have a dependence on alcohol or drugs in addition to being depressed are at greater risk for suicide.

Individuals who are depressed and exhibit the following symptoms are at particular risk for suicide:


There is no evidence to date that the prescription of antidepressants for the treatment of depression increases suicidality in children, adolescents or adults.


A suicidal person may:


Nearly everyone at some time in his or her life thinks about suicide. Most everyone decides to live because they come to realize that the crisis is temporary, but death in not. On the other hand, people in the midst of a crisis often perceive their dilemma as inescapable and feel an utter loss of control. Frequently, they:


American Association of Suicidology

AAS is a membership organization for all those involved in suicide prevention and intervention, or touched by suicide. AAS is a leader in the advancement of scientific and programmatic efforts in suicide prevention through research, education and training, the development of standards and resources, and survivor support services.
For membership information, please contact:

American Association for Suicidology
5221 Wisconsin Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20015
(202) 237.2280 (Phone)
(202) 237.2282 (Fax)

CASP / ACPS Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention / Association canadienne pour la prevention du suicide:

CASP’s ultimate purpose is to reduce the suicide rate and minimize the harmful consequences of suicidal behaviour.

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