For any tropers who feel this way... You Are Not Alone. There are numbers you can call. Please, talk to someone.
Despite what many works may lead you to believe, suicide is a serious and extremely sensitive topic even with teenagers—the trouble is sorting out the hormonal and Wangst-ridden teens from the ones who are genuinely suffering. This can be hard to do since many have little to no knowledge of psychology, and the warning signs are much more nuanced and variable than what the media portrays. The pervasive mishandling of the issue, especially by Hollywood, leads to many deaths that could have been prevented if the proper measures had been taken. However, this page is not the end-all guide to diagnosis: This will merely debunk the common misconceptions surrounding suicide, as well as shed light on the reasons for them.
It should be noted that depression is by far the leading reason behind suicide, which is why this page will also discuss the symptoms of depression. This makes it even harder for average people to differentiate between the two, but whether the person is actually suicidal does not make their condition any less serious: If left untreated, a depressed person may consider suicide anyway if they believe that nobody cares enough to confront them about it.
Depression can be either situational or chronic, and is sometimes linked to family history. Cultural views of depression are naturally quite negative, but the specific kind of negativity varies: Western societies view it as a condition that requires support and professional aid, while Eastern societies (in particular central Asia) either do not see it as serious, or they consider it a stigma and actively refuse to deal with it. Japan in particular has the combination of stigmatizing depression while viewing suicide in a positive light, and as such has the ninth-highest suicide rate in the world.
But even in Western societies, the stigma around depression is such that sufferers will not ask for help immediately; occasionally, they will even insist that they feel normal and refuse help if offered. Constantly refusing help despite evidence that they need it is as much of a warning sign as asking for it: If someone suspects that their friend or loved one is feeling any sort of distress, they should keep offering help no matter how often the person refuses. It is extremely important that family and friends remain as supportive as possible, because the person is already under considerable mental stress—giving up on them may reinforce or even cause feelings of worthlessness, and suicide may be more likely than if they'd never gotten help in the first place.
While it is impossible to pin down a single cause of depression, there are many diagnosable symptoms that almost entirely stem from widespread changes in brain activity. Sufferers become either agitated (in the clinical sense; experiencing constant irritation, stress, and anxiety) or lethargic (both mental and physical capabilities are severely diminished), but the common result is that neither are able to feel happy, or even their former baselines of "normal." A correlation (note that the direction of causation is still debated) also seen between depression/suicide and over-general memory; the inability to pinpoint specific happy or depressed periods, leading to the understatement of the former and overstatement of the latter.
The brains of depression sufferers show significant decreases in serotonin, disturbance of normal sleeping patterns (most often insomnia, but oversleeping is not unheard of), and a decreased immune system. Drug prescriptions to remedy the imbalances generally have good results, but they themselves are not sufficient as a treatment plan; a balanced treatment of depression should involve therapy first, with medication second, and even without the physical recovery of a suicide attempt, it can take from months to several years to fully restore the person to normal.
Note that these are sometimes exaggerations of real symptoms and often overlap with depression-sufferers.
Misconception: a suicidal person must have substantial reason to feel that way. Many people are only familiar with the extreme form of Driven to Suicide, where a single and severe emotional trauma makes the person's reason for killing themselves clear. While this can be the case, even a long string of disappointments or a series of moderate disappointments in a short enough time can become unbearable. In the case of a family history of depression, there really might be no situational reason to explain their depression; they just had bad luck with genetics.
That said, going too far in the other direction and assuming that suicidality is only out of a biological mental illness is also a huge misconception and mistake. It IS possible to be Driven to Suicide, especially in situations involving Abuse to the point where the abuse (especially emotional abuse) has entirely destroyed someone's self-concept or taken away their will to live. Do not immediately assume that a suicidal person's family or religious organization is somehow always "on their side" or "trying to save them from themselves" - these are two groups that can and sometimes do inflict such pervasive emotional abuse.
Misconception: All suicidality is a result of an episode of mental illness, suicidal people are all "crazy" or "psychotic.": This is one that is a case of Hollywood Psychology and generalization. While it is definitely true that psychosis is a frequent factor in suicide (note the high rate among untreated/badly treated schizophrenics, and mixed manic/depressed episodes in Bipolar 1 are close behind for it), many people attempt or even commit suicide simply because the pain of their life situation has exceeded their ability to cope with said pain, and many times this is a result of hyperrealistic pessimism or actual, real traumatizing events (including abuse, rape, the loss of loved ones, extreme financial loss and/or social ostracism), not loss of touch with reality. As said above, it is possible to be Driven to Suicide, and even the Seen-It-All Suicide out of sheer annoyance and boredom with life is possible. While there is some argument that clinical depression is a part of the inability to cope with pain, to fail to recognize and legitimize the suffering of victims who are in serious, legitimate pain for reasons outside their own mind often only makes the situation worse.
Misconception: Men are serious when they attempt suicide, but women are only doing it for attention or as a cry for help. Every single suicide due to depression is a cry for help. The truth is that men tend to use more violent methods of suicide that are more likely to be successful, both because they have greater access to more violent methods and because they simply don't care about the mess they leave behind. They may even find glory in causing a mess as a "take that" to whoever has to clean it up - their wives, the police, etc. Women, on the other hand, tend to use drugs or knives, methods that are much less likely to be successful but also much less likely to make a huge mess. Unfortunately, the belief that men are serious while women are only looking for attention can be found in some older professional handbooks, and has led many to think that a man who attempts suicide is worthy of assistance, while a woman who attempts suicide is just an over-emotional attention whore who needs to be ignored or belittled so she "doesn't learn from the attention to do it again". (It is true that women attempt suicide more often than men but men succeed more often, but it's not 100 women attempting suicide once to every 20 men who attempt suicide once: it's 20 women attempting suicide five times each for every 20 men who attempt suicide once.)
Misconception: calling police is always the solution. Calling authorities on someone or pressing a "suicide notify" button on a post is a last resort - which too many people take as the proper response. The only time one should call authorities is if there is a threat of harm to others involving the method of choice, or the person is actively violent toward anyone trying to help. If you have any sort of pre-existing friendship with the person threatening suicide (even being an acquaintance), it's generally better to try to talk to them and encourage them to talk to others, or to contact close friends of the person that can help. The reasons why calling police on a suicidal person can be Nice Job Breaking It, Hero are below:
Police involvement, especially police involvement that ends badly or the threat of police, can shut off communication and encourage someone who needs, above all else, to talk and share and be open with their emotions to instead be so afraid of consequences from a law enforcement visit, that they close off communication and/or pretend happiness rather than openly communicating pain. You do not know if someone is being an Attention Whore or if they actually need to talk, and silencing helps no one.
Not all police officers are understanding of suicide attempts and suicidality, especially among women and GLBTQIA people or with people they've had prior contacts with for suicide attempts. Having a cop come out and berate someone for being a drama queen or telling them they're better off dead will worsen the situation.
Police involvement heavily raises the risk of violence. Someone unstable who is otherwise not violent may be mistaken for violent and killed or seriously injured by police feeling threatened. In one two-week period in 2013, there were at least four cases of police shooting dead suicidal people who posed little or no threat to the officers' lives (e.g. the "weapons" they had would have at most bruised or scratched an officer in proper gear if even that)
Police will investigate/arrest for any "criminal activity" going on in many cases. This may include simply having a bag of marijuana around them or unpaid traffic warrants - so police involvement can leave someone with a lasting criminal record and its repercussions for the rest of their life. Worse, the police may even arrest someone for merely having the tool of their suicide attempt, if it is a gun or certain drugs.
Regardless of the above: If someone is an immediate danger to themselves, calling 9-1-1 (or whatever your local emergency number is) is the proper course of action. Don't get the idea in your head that you can, without any training, "talk someone down" or restrain them to keep them from harming themselves if they're committed to the act. The general rule is: if they're talking about suicide, talk to them; If they're taking immediately lethal action, you need to notify emergency services ASAP.
At the same time, with some attempts, it is possible to get a person to a hospital without involving the police. This can be accomplished by not mentioning suicide in the emergency services call if the person isn't an active threat (e.g. overdoses, cutting when the cutting implement is no longer in reach/usable) but by explaining that it is an accident/ medical problem (and not requesting no police be sent, as this raises suspicions) and only mentioning that it was a suicide attempt once at the hospital. Or, if the person isn't in danger of immediate death (e.g. they've overdosed but are still awake and breathing, they cut across their wrists and the wrists are bandaged) to call a private medical transport or to drive them to the hospital yourself.
Misconception: There is nothing a person who is not a police officer, psychologist, or psychiatrist can do to prevent suicide. There are things a relatively untrained person (especially a friend or lover) can do before the point of "immediately lethal action" is reached if they are present. Those include making sure there are no firearms/sharp knives, razors, or other cutting implements/drugs or chemicals with a lethal overdose capacity/hanging methods accessible to the person (a quick look around the room should suffice at first), talking to and listening to the person as someone who cares about them, and providing distractions. As noted below, suicide is often an impulsive act, and if the impulse can be resisted, many such suicides can be prevented. Also, some people are far more willing to talk to and listen to a lover or friend than they are the police or a doctor, and there are ways of being there for someone and providing support for someone that aren't formal or the result of training but do help far more than professional help does. Finally, believing too much in this misconception leads people to isolate depressed or suicidal people in fear of them or their emotions, believing that they are only capable of being "handled" by professionals - which worsens depression and feelings of being removed from/dissociated from humanity.
Removing access to firearms, especially, is very important. Guns are the most lethal and irreversible suicide method (shooting yourself in the head has less than a 10% chance of survival, and those who do survive are often left far more permanently physically damaged for the rest of their lives than people who overdose or cut) and many studies have shown their mere presence increases contemplation of suicide.
Also, even if someone doesn't appear to be immediately suicidal, if they appear to be very drunk, very high on stimulants, in a manic swing, compromised or have been going through major life changes, removing firearms, lethal dose amounts of substances, and hanging/jumping methods is a very good idea to prevent accidental suicide. As is making damn sure they don't have access to a vehicle.
This is especially important (so much so that laypeople obtaining some degree of at least suicide prevention "first aid" training is a viable strategy for preventing suicide) in communities that don't relate well to outsiders at all (military or emergency services veterans) or that generally see police and/or mental health professionals as adversarial forces of conformity and to whom some may actually be exactly that (among many others, urban poor or minorities, some LGBTQ people, sex workers, and some parts of the arts and music have this issue with police and sometimes therapists). While professionals may be the ideal, there are people who will be angered or frightened or silenced by professional involvement as opposed to gratefully receiving it, and nonprofessional help from their own community before a situation becomes immediately lethal is often the best chance they have at staying alive and/or getting professional help.
Misconception: it is easy to tell when someone is suicidal. It has a basis in fact, as most people become unhappy before attempting suicide, but there are different ways of showing such an emotion and many are not thought as suicidal until someone discovers the body or takes them to the emergency room. This is due to the person believing their existence is unwanted, not revealing their emotions to be less of a burden to others, or denying their feelings in an attempt to make them go away. Finally, they may attempt to work through it themselves or be too proud to accept help, as it is "only in their head." They often force themselves to appear happy, amused, or "normal," in which the only people who could tell the difference are close friends and family members—of which the vast majority do not have medical backgrounds, and thus don't have the training to deal with it appropriately. On the other side, those who do have family in the medical field may hide their symptoms because "a doctor/nurse/psychologist's kid shouldn't have any problems."
Conversely, a sudden lift in a depressed person's spirits does not necessarily mean they've "gotten over it" and are starting to recover. Paradoxically, some seriously depressed people will actually feel better just before attempting suicide. This is because they've finally figured out a way to escape their angst, and are therefore feeling hopeful for the first time in ages.
In many cases, it's the extent of the depression that prevents suicide attempts. The depressed person simply does not have the motivation to kill themselves. If they improve, the motivation can increase without an improvement in feelings, and the person attempts suicide. This can prove a problem for those on antidepressants.
Misconception: All suicides are planned for a long time. Many times, suicide is impulsive, especially in the severely traumatized, the bipolar, people for whom it is the result of a sudden traumatizing event such as rape or the loss of a loved one, and/or those who use drugs with a rush-crash pattern from alcohol to meth, and a viable strategy for preventing it is to get the person to wait out the impulse to commit suicide, with no judgment on their feelings but simply "running down the clock" and keeping them in a safe or safer environment while they are experiencing the impulse to die until it legitimately recedes, at least for the time being. For some of these persons (those suffering from trauma/PTSD and/or complicated grief), treatment itself involves making a suicide "emergency plan" or "safety plan" that relies on their seeking out people and things to help them get past the impulses, because nothing will entirely eradicate said impulses and a trigger can bring them back.
For example, if you know that every year, your late lover's birthday/a date meaningful to you both/a holiday/something similar is a trigger for these impulses, you can plan to be in a safe location away from methods to easily commit suicide (whether it be a hospital or simply a relatively-suicide-proofed room with someone trustworthy who can protect you from yourself or who can take you to a hospital or other safe place without police being involved), you can try to monitor other areas of your life to not add other temptations or triggers (e.g. not getting drunk if it makes you a sad drunk, avoiding media that depicts similar deaths/avoiding tributes and memorials if they upset you more) and you can consider ways of distracting yourself until the time passes.
Misconception: Suicidality consists of a defined attempt using a usual method. Especially for both the chronically mentally ill and even more so for the severely traumatized, many times, there may not even be a specific intent or attempt. Instead, a pattern develops of simply "giving up on life" or "not caring if one lives or dies," which can manifest in everything from unsafe sex and sexual practices (e.g. unprotected casual sex, Erotic Asphyxiation or other "edge play" without a Safe Word or in bad condition) to dangerous use of drugs and substances (e.g. drinking until blackout drunk and becoming The Alcoholic, intentionally going near overdose range, using dirty needles, etc) to unsafe and dangerous driving or work practices. Suicidal self-harmers will sometimes abandon caution while self-harming (e.g. not caring if the cut goes too deep), suicidal people with eating disorders may find it harder to stop because there is no "Oh no, I can die" factor preventing them, and suicidal alcoholics or drug users may not care that they're overdosing or becoming ill. Suicidality is, for these persons, a spectrum, of safe and healthy (or at the very least harm-reducing and responsible) behavior to acts that may or even are likely to result in serious injury or death. This in combination with suicide on impulse (mentioned above) is how accidental suicide happens - people who don't care whether they live or die taking risks that have a large chance of death.
Misconception: everything goes back to normal right away. While the short-term problem may be dealt with, it can take several months to go back to normal even without the physical recuperation of a suicide attempt. Major depression involves severe chemical imbalance in the person's brain, and relapsing or attempting suicide again after a year is common among nearly half of all sufferers. Even after therapy, it can take several years for the person to genuinely return to normal; further complication is when the person themselves thinks that this is true. They may hide their symptoms of relapse to keep others from worrying, or go for years without further treatment in the mistaken belief that they "should be back to normal." Even worse are the cases where the suicide is taken for a joke or forced to be abandoned, and the depressing events continue.
And the very worst situations are when someone is left in an abusive or traumatic situation, with no real help to get out of the situation offered. An inventory for abuse of all sorts should always be taken with someone (especially a person with no source of income outside of their spouse, a minor, or someone who fits the profile of a human trafficking victim) who attempts suicide, and if someone is living in a situation of abuse or violence, concrete help should be provided (not just "here's a domestic violence pamphlet, call me") to get them out of that situation.
Misconception: all suicides leave suicide notes, so if a suicide doesn't leave a note either the attempt wasn't serious or it wasn't really suicide. Again, utter nonsense perpetuated by Hollywood. Most suicides don't leave notes. In some countries fewer than one in ten suicides leave notes. It's more common in the US specifically because of media depictions.
Misconception: the average suicide victim is a young adult. This varies hugely from country to country, but in most Western countries elders commit suicide at a much higher rate than younger people, and contrary to conventional wisdom it's not due to age or health but almost wholly due to depression.
Misconception: anyone who considers or attempts suicide is being selfish and cowardly. This is a very pervasive stereotype, but for obvious reasons, it's one of the most blatantly untrue ones. People attempt suicide for a variety of reasons, whether that's due to a long history of depression or recent traumas, and oftentimes people in the grip of depression who are considering suicide attempt it out of a desire for it "all to be over." The best way to help someone who's attempted or is about to attempt suicide is not to tell them they're being 'selfish' or 'inconsiderate', but to assist them in getting the help they need. Sometimes, the suicidal person will feel that they are burdening society with their existence and actually feels selfish not killing themselves
The inverse is sometimes the case. People who survive or intentionally botch their suicide won't always be happy at first. Some may in fact feel worse, because either they couldn't even manage to DIE properly, they feel like they've been cheated out of relief, or they feel they "chickened out" and have now burdened their loved ones with financial and emotional stress—the exact thing they wanted to avoid. It is a very twisted form of Survivor Guilt that is often confusing for loved ones to deal with.
Misconception: all teens aren't really serious about suicide. This applies to children as well - some people believe that teenagers are doing it for the attention, and the children are just joking/can't really want to die. But there are teens who are genuinely suffering. If a teen or child is forced to abandon a suicide attempt, and life continues as normal, this can just make it worse and the child/teen more likely to actually commit suicide.
Misconception: medication and/or hospitalization alone will fix it. Unfortunately, too many people have this view of mental illness (especially depression) as something people just need to "snap out of," or something that can be "fixed." While medication and hospitalization can help some, there are some caveats to believing both are some sort of instantly effective cures for depression.
Hospitalization (especially forced hospitalization and in some contexts, especially where abuse has been a part of the depression and especially if the abusers insisted on the hospitalization as punitive, or hospitalization in a context of labeling and shaming or forced treatment) can be a traumatic, painful experience itself. While modern-day mental hospitals are NOT generally what would be found in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest or such, not every professional employed by one is necessarily understanding. The "psychiatric survivor" and "mental health consumer" movements have some very good commentary on this - in short, forced hospitalization should be a very last resort much as calling the authorities should be, and do the research to find a hospital where patients are treated with kindness and respect.
Related, a bad therapist is worse than NO therapist. A therapist who is highly judgmental or commanding, one whose goal is to make someone "behave" or make them "normal," one who has little or no experience with the actual problems their patient has and sees them as a DSM category rather than a human being in legitimate pain, one who is beholden to a religion/method/seminar/similar, one who is very heteronormative in dealing with an LGBTQ person... all of the above are just a few ways a therapist can have very bad effects and make someone angry or fearful and possibly refuse to seek professional help ever again.
Co-morbid depression originating from abuse, grief, and/or PTSD is very difficult to treat much less cure, because the space between "correcting chemical imbalance" and dealing with legitimate emotions from a horrifyingly traumatic experience is very difficult to define. That doesn't mean recovery is impossible - it just means it is very long, mostly from talk therapy, and that most (currently legal) medication's utility is limited because SSR Is can cure any existing chemical imbalances - but not make painful experiences or memories any less so.
Antidepressants and neuroleptics are not always the correct medication. A complete physical for physical causes of the depression or depression-like symptoms absolutely needs to be conducted, as does a full mental evaluation for other mental causes. Someone can be anemic and needing iron (and treatment for the anemia-causing disease). Someone can be suffering from hyperthyroid or hypothyroid - both conditions which absolutely cause symptoms easily confused with depression and bipolar alike.
On the subject of neuroleptics, they generally should be seen as a last resort in cases of depression. Not because they're "antipsychotic drugs" (a stigma entirely unwarranted) but because they are very powerful drugs with often heavily sedating direct effects and severe side effects (the biggest one being extreme obesity and diabetes for modern neuroleptics) and another side effect of causing actual brain damage. They should rarely if ever be used as first-line maintenance treatment for unipolar depression (despite ad campaigns like "Add Abilify") because they can worsen it and cause lasting damage beyond that of the depression itself - and a doctor suggesting them as such generally means one needs another doctor. They are an evidence-based first-line treatment (especially short term) for bipolar 1 manic episodes, though even there much medical opinion leans toward using them as emergency as needed and using lithium and/or anticonvulsant drugs as maintenance medication.
The depression could also be a rare type - e.g. the serotonin and serotonin uptake system is fine, but the endorphin/endogenous opiate systems are where the problem is, or it is due to a lack of or excess of a sex hormone, or it is due to a physical brain injury...
Finally, even in cases where the depression is solely the result of a chemical imbalance of brain chemicals, it takes around two weeks for medication to reach its full effect, and somewhat longer for talk therapy to begin to work. Do not give up or insist on adding more/stronger meds because it's not instant, and do give yourself and your mind and body time to heal.
Misconception: Depressed or suicidal people must be living wrong, getting religion/getting sober/committing to a natural lifestyle/manifesting positive thoughts will fix it! This is one of the most damaging and often suicide-inspiring misconceptions of depression there is (because it makes the guilt and self-blame a depression sufferer already has far worse to believe that their suffering is their own fault), and it's also one that can lead people suffering from depression to make life choices that at best do nothing and at worst destroy their lives with no benefit.
People of any and all religions suffer abuse, depression, anxiety, bipolar, loss/trauma, and/or other reasons to feel suicidal. No religious belief is a cure for depression or anxiety (or any other illness) in and of itself, especially when the cause of depression or anxiety is entirely biochemical or hormonal or the like. While religious belief and prayer does have some positive effect on depression or anxiety for some believers, and religious groups can provide needed social support, some religious groups can also inflict such pervasive emotional and/or financial abuse that they worsen or even cause depression and suicide, can drive people (especially those who are LGBTQ) to believe they are "sinful" and "evil" or "not doing enough," or add a religious element to the depression/suicidality such as "God hates me" or "I deserve hell." Religious belief can be helpful to those who already have it and/or who are seeking it for the reasons of prayer/meditation/ritual being comforting and social support via meetings/assemblies/etcetera, but it isn't a cure-all, can make things worse, and having depression doesn't mean you're unspiritual or a "sinner" or lack faith. Also, if a religious group offers to heal your mind but requires or insists on increasingly large financial donations to help you, this is a red flag of something that can drive people to suicide and definitely won't help.
While alcohol and some drugs (especially in addictive use patterns) do cause depression and suicidality, getting sober, while it may be healthy and important, isn't an instant cure-all for depression either for most people. Quitting some substances (alcohol, opiates/heroin, and amphetamine-class drugs especially) can produce a horrific suicidal depression "crash" as part of the withdrawal especially if done cold turkey, even in people who aren't depressed to begin with (and delirium tremens or uncontrolled opiate withdrawal can itself kill, while cold turkey speed withdrawal will just make you wish you were dead). If you were self-medicating depression or bipolar consciously or unconsciously with the alcohol or drugs, being sober won't cure the depression. The only time sobriety can be an "instant cure" is if there was no underlying depression, (as in, the drinking pattern or drug use directly caused depression in someone who wasn't previously ill - example being someone who realizes they become sad and weepy when they drink and stops drinking, or an MDMA user who realizes "suicide Tuesdays" are really making him or her suicidal and quits using MDMA). While becoming sober is a commendable health decision, and joining AA or NA or the like can provide social support, it's one that is often not as simple as "quit and you'll be 100 percent not-depressed" or "quit and you won't feel suicidal ever again."
Sometimes, total sobriety is sometimes a bad idea for suicide prevention - if the depression is due to a problem with endorphin production for example, your treatment itself may include "drugs" such as cannabis or even an opiate (of course, prescribed by your treating doctor) to properly treat it. With trauma/grief induced depression or suicidality, impulse distraction may involve getting drunk or high enough to forget that one wants to die right now - and while that's not good, it's a better choice than suicide. PTSD or complicated grief sufferers sometimes use cannabis for this reason to deal with trigger-induced suicidal impulses - unlike alcohol or even some prescribed meds, the lethal dose is almost impossible to achieve, and combined with a safe environment, getting stoned ensures safety. For these people, trying to deal with said impulses sober is more likely to result in suicide.
Despite what the Granola Girl and All-Natural Snake Oil provider will tell you, committing to a more natural lifestyle is also not an instant depression cure. While exercise is a valuable tool for depression and anxiety relief (studies have proven exercise is as valuable as SSRI antidepressants to overcoming depression), and sunshine (unless you suffer from porphyria) and fresh air and a good diet etcetera will make you feel better, none are cure-alls, some parts of the "more natural lifestyle" can become just as bad at guilt-inducing as religion, by making you feel guilty for "not doing enough" or "not being natural enough," and moving to a farm or collective or isolated location might worsen depression or anxiety via isolation and financial restriction, and possibly provide better access to firearms, dangerous machinery, or poisons. If you are so depressed you are suicidal, "going natural" won't, in and of itself, fix it.
Positive thoughts and "faith" and manifestation CANNOT fix suicidal depression, because a suicidally depressed person physically cannot maintain positive thinking, especially in the absence of anything realistic to be positive or happy about, as such things as "The Secret" and prosperity faith healers demand that one do. This does not make them a bad or evil person, a "black hole of negativity," it is simply part of the pain they are suffering, and to tell people that if only they could think positively all their problems would be solved and they'd be able to manifest a new boyfriend, millions of dollars in the bank, and perfect health (among other things) is offensive and can be triggering and suicide-inducing if they believe it (and therefore blame themselves and hate themselves and feel guilty that they can't, or can't maintain it in the face of no proof of improvement). It's the equivalent of telling someone with major injuries from a car accident or fall to just get up and go run the Ironman Triathalon and believe they weren't ever hurt in the first place.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression and/or Suicidal Thoughts
Persistent feelings of sadness or worthlessness, for at least two weeks. (Obvious sign of depression.) A common description by sufferers is that they feel "empty" or "hollow" inside. Unfortunately with teens, it is often dismissed as typical moodiness. This leads to the perfect storm of feeding their self-destructive thoughts, making them reluctant to seek help from adults, and instilling the belief that they have to prove their unhappiness is genuine—regrettably, some of those attempts work.
Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities for at least two weeks. (Obvious sign of depression.) An extreme sign is when the person is trying to enjoy themselves, but cannot even feel anxious about their lack of enthusiasm. They may simply stop participating in their hobbies, but some people retreat into their homes altogether and rarely leave the house.
Frequent breakdowns and crying episodes. (Known, but exaggerated.) This is rarely witnessed first-hand, despite common media depictions. Depressed people in real life will more often seek out quiet and isolated places during such episodes, either because they want privacy or because they want others to notice that they're gone. Whether male or female, the sufferer may have an (un)conscious desire to be found, as the act has a dual purpose of validating their feelings and giving them "proof" that someone cares about them.
Sleeping too much, or being unable to sleep. (Known, but may not be recognized as a symptom in itself.) This is frequently due to the chemical imbalances.
Unexplained, frequent aches or pains due to the immune system shutting down. (Little-known/overlooked.) A variant of this is when minor injuries or illnesses take too long to heal, such as a cold persisting for a month or scrapes and bruises lasting for days. Those with no medical experience often cannot connect this to depression.
Feeling cold in inappropriate weather, or the coldness persisting in adequate warmth. (Little-known/overlooked.) This may be the reason for the stereotypical depictions of a black-clad "emo" teen, as dark colors absorb and retain heat better than light clothes. It also is one of the most frequently-overlooked symptoms, as wearing sweaters is not unusual in certain climates and even the person in question may not realize that this is a symptom.
Changes in appetite and the subsequent weight gain/loss. (Little-known/overlooked.) As stated before, depression involves large-scale physiological changes, and subsequently affects the person's appetite. On the other hand, this can be hard to detect as those with decreased appetite will either remind or force themselves to eat normally, and those with increased appetite may hide the bulk of their overeating. Both sides may play it off as insignificant, or even joke about it to keep people from worrying.
Sudden loss of care for dangerous activities, beyond that possibly explained by apathy or experience. Someone may begin driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving far more recklessly or at higher speeds than usual, act out in "road rage," get into repeated or serious non-fatal vehicle accidents or otherwise become an outright dangerous driver. Someone may overwork or work in a dangerous manner (e.g. removing protective equipment or ignoring safety precautions, especially when doing so could lead to death or serious injury, working until the point of physical collapse from lack of sleep or pain). Someone may suddenly take up risky or dangerous hobbies, or, if they previously rode dirtbikes or skydived or chased storms for example, ignoring their usual safety precautions while doing so, or may allow a previously controlled illness from diabetes to an eating disorder to get out of control, and it can also overlap with the symptom below. The key here is that while people tend to become more lax on safety the more they do something due to apathy and familiarity, the changes are more obvious than that and persistent - it is someone who consistently acts in a manner that hints at "not caring about living or dying."
Changes in consumption of alcohol, recreational drugs, work hours, and/or forms of escapism. This is a more recently recognized sign, and one that appears to be more common among adult athletes, entertainers, musicians, doctors, lawyers and law enforcement, high-level business and finance workers, and others who live high-stress and yet relatively high income and high access to any or all of said options for escape. Much like overeating and undereating and oversleeping and insomnia, either side of the coin can be present. for example, one depressed / suicidal musician might lock himself in his studio and work nonstop using work to avoid the pain, and another who used to work nearly nonstop might suddenly quit and do no work at all. Or a lawyer who drank relatively little to begin with might go Off The Wagon, or alternately, a lawyer known for heavy drinking suddenly goes sober and begins self-recrimination as a part of "recovery." The key here is major changes either way that are either not connected to any apparent reason or that are tied to an obvious triggering event.
While these are the major signs, it is not the case with everyone and there are many more symptoms that may be particular to a specific person.
It should be noted that a great deal of depression and suicide involves appearances and (often) self-imposed pressures: Depression stems from both an inability to express emotions and the underlying, if warped, desire to protect their loved ones from such "unsafe" or "wrong" emotions. The major issue during therapy is that the person accepts that they have a problem, that they need help, and that the steps for returning to normal will not happen right away. Generally, a good therapist will help their client figure most of it out by themselves instead of trying to set deadlines or goals for them. This is also why therapy is overwhelmingly one-on-one or in groups of fellow sufferers, rather than with family members or friends—the emotional involvement would impede the person's progress for a number of reasons.
To those who only know the media portrayals (which are greatly watered-down, particularly the physical side of depression), seeing what a genuinely depressed person would look and act like would be a huge shock, and most sufferers are understandable in their refusal to let loved ones into the actual therapy sessions.
There are numerous other sites that go into detail about suicide and depression, but knowing what's wrong is only half the battle: If you or anyone you know is showing signs of depression, seek professional help immediately. If the professional seems controlling, condemnatory, dismissive or especially insistent that you convert to their religion or similar, keep looking even if it means going elsewhere.
And one more note...
Suicide statistics and official reports of deaths from suicide are often very skewed and inadequate. Some of the problems in determining an accurate death toll from suicide/successful suicide attempts are as follows:
An undercounting of deaths from suicide itself, due to accidental suicides often being listed as accidents (this is especially a problem with vehicle accidents, work accidents and overwork) and occasionally even being considered as acts of bravery or heroism or tenaciousness when said "bravery" or "heroism" or "tenaciousness" was unnecessary or useless, and is actually suicidal behavior. It is arguable that if all accidental and stress deaths that were actually suicides were counted as such, the suicide tolls would be somewhat higher.
At the same time, too many homicides are counted as suicides. This includes all cases of abusers or bullies or others driving someone to outright suicide or so damaging them mentally that suicidality is the ultimate result. This includes cases written off as Suicide by Cop that were actually the result of Police Brutality, and other police brutality or police negligence related deaths in custody. This includes outright murders that just happen to look like suicides, either whether intentionally set up to be so by the killer, or that just turned out that way, as well as suicide pacts and cases of kink gone horribly wrong when it involves a person who could demand activities be Safe, Sane and Consensual. It applies to those who intentionally and knowingly leave suicide methods for people who they know to be unstable or at risk. It also applies to people who create situations almost guaranteed to lead to accidental or overwork deaths among those who aren't safety-conscious. If all cases of felony homicide, negligent homicide, or homicide were subtracted from the suicide death toll, the effect would be significant and potentiallyterrifying.
Edwin Howard Armstrong, inventor of FM radio. Left penniless and distraught by his rivals' lawsuits, he jumped from a 13th storey window in 1954, aged 64.
Two other 20th century writers that committed suicide, besides Hemingway: Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. Sylvia Plath killed herself by inhaling the fumes from a gas oven after her husband, fellow poet Ted Hughes, cheated on her and left her for another woman (Assia Wevill, who six years later committed suicide in the same way). Anne Sexton suffocated in carbon monoxide in her garage while wearing her mother's coat—after years of mental illness, blaming herself for her mother's cancer, and feeling responsible for her divorce in 1971.
The (somewhat nebulous) connection between creative writers—especially female poets—and higher rates of mental illness/suicide is known as the Sylvia Plath effect.
Another 20th century author to commit suicide: Virginia Woolf—inevitably pushed over the edge by years of depression, mental illness (particularly, hearing voices), and feeling guilty about being a burden to her husband. The Norton Anthology of 20th-Century British Literature cites the fear of being arrested by the Gestapo as a reason for suicide. She filled her coat with rocks and walked into the Ouse River near her house. (This had to have been particularly painful, as she was a good swimmer.)
John Berryman, another poet, who killed himself by jumping off the Washington Avenue Bridge onto the west bank of the Mississippi River. As Nick Cave put it:
Berryman was best; He wrote like wet paper mache Uh-huh, but he went the Heming Way.
Austrian writer Stefan Zweig explained in his suicide note that he couldn't bear to watch Europe tear itself apart again. Reading his autobiography gives you a good idea of just how nostalgic he was for a golden version of Europe that had been destroyed since the first world war.
Truman Capote may have committed suicide, or he may have accidentally overdosed. He wouldn't let Joanne Carson call an ambulance, though, so even if he didn't actively kill himself, he didn't really want to live.
Hunter S. Thompson, in pain from illness and generally tired of life, wrote "Football Season Is Over" and called it a day with a pistol.
Robert E. Howard made plans to end his life when his mother's health started failing. After his mother entered her final coma and a nurse told him that she would never again regain consciousness, Howard went to his car and shot himself in the head, dying the day before his mother did.
More intelligent animals, such as dogs, cats, monkeys, and apes, have been known to be driven to suicide by the loss of a master, mate, or companion, either passively by starvation and dehydration, or actively by jumping off a precipice or lying in front of oncoming traffic. Of course, the same behavior sometimes happens in some humans who lose a spouse or lover or close friend or even someone they just deeply care about - there is a reason that recent or very painful loss or grief is mentioned as a reason for (especially impulsive) suicide above. Whether it is a pathological mental illness or a legitimate (if not good) reaction to some of the most horrific pain anyone can experience is a matter of intense debate.
Not only that, but older dogs and cats know that their life is at an end, and starve themselves. This usually convinces their owners to have them put down. Proves that animals know about death.
It's possible that the one fatality of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Tubby the spaniel, committed suicide - he rejected a rescue team, and attacked them when they tried to save him by force.
It could be argued that Louis Slotin, a Manhattan Project nuclear physicist, committed accidental suicide of the "not caring about his own life" variety: he expressed disdain with his life and his work on the project, and then began to take risks including climbing under an operating nuclear reactor and becoming increasingly careless with a repeated experiment, down to not wearing his dosimeter and, when he did the experiment for the last and what would be fatal time, using a screwdriver on the core and removing protective shims. The result was the prompt critical accident that killed him.
In World War II, the Japanese government deliberately frightened the civilian populations, most notably in Okinawa, about the supposed atrocities that the Allies would inflict should they take their islands to the point where many committed suicide. Only one-third of the civilian population of Saipan survived the American invasion, and most of the deaths were suicide.
Japanese culture in general sees depression as shameful and suicide as a honorable "way out." That combination alone leads to many suicides and much suicidal behavior, and since there's many other combinations (from the idea of behavior that would and should be seen as suicidal to be simply being a hard worker or fighting against the odds or being honorable in the case of overwork or working past injuries or similar, or, at worst with things like alcoholism and drugs, just to be ignored and brushed under the rug so to speak, to suicide being seen as a legitimate form of apology when one has wronged someone else in some corners), the suicide rate in Japan is a huge societal problem, and the country has one of the world's largest suicide rates and some of the very least effective responses to suicide attempts and suicidal behavior possible.
Alan Turing was a man key in decoding the Enigma machines in World War II, and who even invented the first electronic computer to do so. Accidentally outed as gay when he reported a liaison who tried to burgle his house, Turing was found guilty of "gross indecency", and reluctantly chose chemical castration by hormone treatment over prison. Despite retaining his freedom, Turing was also fired and barred from the university where he worked, and his hormone "treatment" probably lead to his depression and weight gain. Infamously, Turing soon killed himself by eating an apple containing cyanide compounds he used in his work, possibly to make it plausible to his mother that his death was accidental.
Recently questioned by modern historians. The death may have been accidental. Turing had a home chemistry lab where he could conceivably have gotten into cyanide by accident, and the apple was never tested.
Painter Vincent van Gogh is now known as a major post-impressionist artist, but his life was extremely hard. He was very talented, but only managed to sell two of his 2 000 artworks, living his life more or less in poverty. He also suffered from schizophrenia, possible bipolar disorder and depression during his last years. Eventually, the voices in his head got the best of him, and van Gogh shot himself on the 27th of July 1890.
Professor Henry Bedson, the head of the microbiology department at University of Birmingham Medical School, committed suicide in 1978 after samples of live smallpox he was studying traveled through the vents and infected a woman working in the same building, killing her.
In Ancient Rome, committing suicide was a common way out for upper-class individuals who expected to receive a death sentence in the near future. In fact, people sentenced to death were often allowed to take their own life instead of being executed. The Annals of Tacitus mention dozens of such cases.
Committing suicide prior to trial was preferable to a death sentence because it allowed your heirs to inherit your estate. If you were executed, your wealth was forfeited to the state.
Speaking of Ancient Rome, quite a few Roman politicians were driven to suicide in the dying days of the Republic including:
Cato the Younger, as with the murder of Pompey and the essential collapse of any resistance to Julius Caesar (which from Cato's perspective was a tragedy since Pompey's coalition was the legitimate government of the Roman Republic), he lacked any desire to live in a world where the Republic had essentially ceased to exist. Caesar was quite displeased with this—Pompey had been murdered and now another of the most powerful men of the Republic died, but neither of these worthy opponents fell at his hands in battle. Cato was highly honored in Rome for his incorruptibility and intransigence and, indeed, Octavian likened himself to Cato.
A generation later, more famously, Marc Antony committed suicide in the aftermath of his crushing defeat at the Battle of Actium, his lover Cleopatra following him to the grave not long afterwards.
During the fall of Constantinople, several women including nuns commited suicide. The reason why is obvious.
In a pretty horrific example, Mitchell Henderson became an infamous meme ("an hero") by committing suicide... after which trolls made up the idea that he did so because his iPod was stolen.
The infamous case of the game addict who was driven to suicide by EverQuest.
Kurt Cobain of Nirvana shot himself at his home. Surrounded by Conspiracy Theories that he was murdered mostly based around some of the misconceptions outlined above. Notably that a note found with his body "doesn't read like a suicide note" even though it is a long rambling apology to his fans for his apathy towards his success and his shame at not appreciating them.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky arguably killed himself after former "friends" threatened to go public about his homosexuality.
The notably fatalistic Tchaikovsky drank unboiled water during a cholera outbreak. It may have been a deliberate suicide attempt; it may have been just not caring any more whether he lived. His life was something of a shambles, despite his musical successes to that point.
To put it politely, it isn't exactly an unfounded stereotype when you hear about poets always committing suicide. The "Confessional Poetry" movement of the Modernist era is a particularly morbid example. Again, to put it politely, all of the examples given in the opening paragraph on the article for the movement on The Other Wiki took their own lives.
School bullies drive their victims to suicide so often that there's a specific term for it: "bullycide". Just part of growing up... right?
Also has spread to the internet in places like MySpace, where some people are hounded and tormented by other people to the point where they announce their plans to kill themselves and their tormentors cheer them on. There has been one case that made the news where a teenage girl named Megan Meier was harassed over and over again over a personal issue in her life and she killed herself. It was revealed that the tormentor was an adult woman who knew the girl in person and didn't like her. There are no words.
France Télécom employees: 46 have committed suicide from January 2008 to April 2010, due to a management style based on permanent harassment and stress.
Questionable. France Télécom employs 180,000 people (from engineers to civil servants from its government-owned days). 46 out of France Télécom's 180,000 employees means the suicide rate of France Télécom employees is 25 per 100,000; very close to the average suicide rate of France, slightly below by some estimates, slightly above by others. In other words, being France Télécom employees was most likely incidental to their suicides.
Mark Speight, a presenter on the British children's art program SMart. He was discovered to have hung himself near Paddington Station after his fiancée died.
41% of trans people have attempted suicide (but lived to be able to report this) . For obvious reasons, there really isn't a way to know how many completed suicides there has been among trans people, and also many other LGBT individuals, especially young people and teenagers.
More about the Werther Effect: After German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote The Sorrows of Young Werther (mentioned above), young men who were deeply affected by the novel because of its subject manner (a young man in unrequited love with a beautiful young woman who was attached to a much older man) would visit Goethe and confess their own unrequited loves to him, then they'd depart and commit suicide.
Of course, most copycat suicides from the book didn't involve the young man in question meeting Goethe in person; so many young German men were found drowned with The Sorrows of Young Werther on their bodies that Goethe prefaced the second edition with the text, "Be a man, and do not follow me!"
This story of a student who committed suicide after being outed as gay due to a prank.
Including the young man in the news story above, at this writing, 6 gay teens across the United States have taken their own lives in just one week. For every LGBT kid who commits suicide, another 20 try.
Ian Curtis of Joy Division hung himself, due most likely to his collapsing marriage and bouts of severe epilepsy, combined with pre-existing depression.
Speaking of the Manic Street Preachers, their former lyricist and rhythm guitarist Richey James Edwards might be an example. Depressed, self harming, anorexic, and an alcoholic, Richey went missing in early February 1995 and has never been seen since. While a body has never been found, his car was found not far from the Severn Bridge, a notorious suicide spot.
Baku Hatakeyama, best known for playing Ki Ranger in Himitsu Sentai Goranger, killed himself for that very reason. Unable to escape I Am Not Spock as Ki Ranger, and unable to find work in general, with financial problems as well, committed suicide, much to the regret of Aka Ranger Naoya Makoto.
The creator of the webcomic Sexy Losers has chronic depression. His most recent webcomic, Depression Comix, depicts his personal experiences of what it's like to live with depression, including self-harm and thoughts of suicide.
George Sanders committed suicide, apparently, due to boredom and overall hatred for the world.
Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck. [signed]
Yoshiki Hayashi's father committed suicide when his son was still a young teenager, out of either depression and/or severe physical health problems that went undiagnosed at the time (knowledge of thyroid conditions causing mental health issues was fairly limited in the 1970s). This had an obviously very painful influence on Yoshiki's life, and the song "Tears" is both dedicated to his father and to someone else...
hide committed suicide by accident in 1998. It may or may not have been a "true" suicide, as there is plenty of evidence he had plans for the future and did not actively plan to kill himself, (and the actual death could have been anything from a drunken attempt at self-treatment of neck pain to a drunken sexual act) but it was also obvious that at the end hide was losing control of his life and his use of certain substances, primarily alcohol, and didn't seem to care whether he lived or died. He is the other person to whom "Tears" is dedicated.
See the note above on Confessional Poetry? Visual Kei is a close competitor, with many suicides and alleged suicides as well as survived attempts. This results from the general view of suicide in Japan as well as factors specific to the scene and the people who usually tend to become a part of it.
In the summer of 2011, three National Hockey League "enforcers," guys whose job on the team had been to get into fights, died; one, Derek Boogard, from an overdose of painkillers, and two, Rick Rypien & Wade Belak from what is generally though to be suicide, though Belak's family has tried to argue otherwise. It was only after their deaths that it came out that the latter two had struggled with depression for a long time, and then that they were hardly the only enforcers so affected, and together these three deaths opened a public discussion about the physical and emotional toll their career takes on enforcers.