Suicide has been in the headlines recently, with the deaths of former Growing Pains actor Andrew Koenig in Vancouver and Michael Blosil, the son of Marie Osmond.
Both had a long history of depression.
It's too general to say that everyone who commits suicide has a form of mental illness or depression. Criminals have committed suicide rather than face long prison terms and stockbrokers have killed themselves when they find all their money gone. While depression many also be a factor in these cases-fear, revenge, guilt and obsession with materialism also plays a part.
But most suicide cases are not due to crimes or misdemeanors. They are a result of hopelessness, despair, loneliness and depression. Addiction may also be a factor. Depression may be as a result of abuse in their past or present, unresolved conflict, death or illness of loved ones, substance abuse or their own health.
According to suicide.org, depression is the leading cause of suicide. Empowher describes depression as "a mental illness characterized by feelings of profound sadness and lack of interest in enjoyable activities. Depression is not the same as a blue mood. It is a persistent low mood that interferes with the ability to function and appreciate things in life. It may cause a wide range of symptoms, both physical and emotional. It can last for weeks, months, or years. People with depression rarely recover without treatment.
Risk factors include:
◦Chronic physical or mental illness, including thyroid disease, headaches, chronic pain, and stroke
◦Previous episode of depression
◦Major life changes or stressful life events (eg, bereavement, trauma)
◦Winter season for seasonal affective disorder
◦Little or no social support
◦Lack of personal control over circumstances
◦Family history of depression (parent or sibling)
◦Feelings of helplessness
◦Certain medications, including medications used to treat asthma , high blood pressure , arthritis, high cholesterol , and heart problems
Symptoms of depression are highly variable from person to person. Some people have only a few symptoms, while others have many. Symptoms also vary over time.
Symptoms can change over time and may include:
◦Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or emptiness
◦Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
◦Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
◦Loss of interest in sex
◦Trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
◦Trouble sleeping, waking up too early, or oversleeping
◦Eating more or less than usual
◦Weight gain or weight loss
◦Thoughts of death or suicide with or without suicide attempts
◦Restlessness or irritability
◦Physical symptoms that defy standard diagnosis and do not respond well to medical treatments
For more, including diagnosis and treatment, click on our Depression page here : https://www.empowher.com/media/reference/depression#definition
What surprised me were the comments written on the many news stories and blogs regarding the well publicized cases of Andrew Koenig and Michael Blosil. Some called them selfish, self-obsessed people who didn't care about who they left behind. And who didn't care about the aftermath of their death. The guilt of families and friends. The permanent thoughts of "why" and "what could I have done to prevent this?" that can plague their loved ones forever.
Suicide has nothing to do with selfishness-rather, it is the final, dark and desperate end of depression, when mind and body no longer can function in a normal way. People who commit suicide are generally unable to even understand the effect their death will have on others - the level of their mental illness has destroyed any hope for logical or practical thought.
Families are left behind with all that remorse, guilt and unfathomable sadness. Sometimes it consumes them and it remains with them for life. There is help for families and friends of suicide victims and it can be found here at Survivors of Suicide. Local state-by-state support groups are also here: http://www.survivorsofsuicide.com/help_heal.shtml
Families and friends should know that they are never to blame for a loved one's suicide.
Suicide can be prevented-
Strategies to reduce your chance of becoming depressed include:
◦Being aware of your personal risk
◦Having a psychiatric evaluation and psychotherapy if needed
◦Developing social supports
◦Learning stress management techniques
◦Do not abuse or overuse alcohol or drugs
◦Getting adequate sleep, rest, and recreation
For anyone thinking of suicide, please reach out. If you feel you can't reach families or don't have friends to connect to, you can contact us here on Empowher for guidance or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) - these lines are open available 27/7/365
In case of emergency, please call 911.
Has suicide affected your life?
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