Depression is one of the most common precursors to suicide and is often a silent struggle. Depressed individuals can “keep it together” at school or work, but suffer inwardly with an emotional pain that many never see. Approximately 10% of those who have depression commit suicide (1) and for every completed suicide there are estimated to be 25 people who attempt (2). Some of the most common signs of depression include changes in appetite and sleep (increase or decrease), feelings of hopelessness and/or helplessness, loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities, anxiety, and irritability.
Managing depression can be especially difficult during childhood and adolescence for several reasons. Adolescence is a time of increased hormonal and emotional ups and downs. However, the ability to manage emotions is decreased because coping skills and the ability to verbally express difficult feelings has yet to be perfected. Pressure from peers, social media, and society are often times more magnified during this time. The combination of depression, social and personal pressures, and a lack of positive coping skills can lead to a permanent consequence, suicide.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10 to 26 (3) and the tenth overall leading causes of death in the United States (2). In Colin County, the medical examiner reports 110 deaths by suicide in 2014, up from 62 in 2009 (4). Depression and suicide continues to be a primary concern within the mental health community and a topic for which many people are still scared to discuss openly with friends and family.
Some of the signs of suicide are a preoccupation with death, loss of interest, saying goodbye to friends and family, talking about being helpless/hopeless, talking about suicide, or making statements about how life would be better without them. Some might be more reckless (i.e. driving fast) to lead to their own death instead of an overt suicidal act.
The most important steps someone can take against combating depression and suicide is to talk about it and ask about it! If you are depressed and contemplating suicide, please seek professional help. If you are a friend, parent, or teacher and suspect someone you know might be depressed or thinking about suicide, ask them about it and help them find help. Do not be afraid to talk about mental health, it could save a life!