Mental illnesses, such as depression, bipolar disorder and substance use disorders are certainly among the risk factors for suicide. But there are other biological, psychological, social and environmental factors that can increase a person’s risk for suicide. For example: a history of physical or sexual abuse, traumatic brain injury, chronic pain and chronic health conditions. Other contributors closer to the time of suicidal behavior may include stress, adverse life events and intoxication.
Suicide is never the result of one cause, rather a combination of risk factors coming together often in the context of stress and with access to lethal means. And while most people who die by suicide have a potentially diagnosable and treatable mental health condition, most people with a mental health condition do not die by suicide.
We have learned through research that people who have made suicide attempts think differently when in a suicidal state. Their pain and desperation affect their ability to make decisions. Their brain isn’t working flexibly, and they can’t generate alternate solutions. They are hurting—they truly believe they are a burden and their pain will never end.
This doesn’t mean they aren’t motivated to live and be productive. In fact, among people who have made a suicide attempt, more than 90% go on living and engaging with life. That’s why it’s okay—even necessary—to reach out for support when suicidal thoughts occur. And if someone reaches out to you for help, it’s essential to give the support a person experiencing suicidal ideation needs.
What Can We Do to Help?
We can all help prevent suicide by learning the risk factors and warning signs, and by being alert to changes in our family, friends and co-workers.
For more information: NAMI
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Abbey M. Friedman MA, CPRP, CRC
Consultant | Advocate | Trainer | Practitioner
1080 East Indiantown Road, Suite 106-E, Jupiter, Florida 33477