Suicide is a potentially preventable public health problem that is the 10th leading overall cause of death in the U.S. In 2015, suicide was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. among people 10-14 years of age and the second leading cause of death among those 15-34 years of age.
Risk factors for thoughts of suicide can vary with age, gender and ethnic group, and these risk factors often occur in combination. Over 90% of people who die by suicide have depression or another diagnosable mental or substance abuse disorder, often in combination with other mental disorders. Adverse or traumatic life events in combination with other risk factors such as depression may lead to suicide, but suicide and suicidal behavior should not be considered normal responses to stress.
Other risk factors for suicide include prior suicide attempt(s), family history of mental disorder or substance abuse, family history of suicide, family violence, physical or sexual abuse, keeping firearms in the home, incarceration, and exposure to the suicidal behavior of others.
Other causes of suicide
- Chronic or Terminal Illness
- Conduct Disorder
- Physical or Emotional Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- "Suicide Contagion"
- Traumatic or Tragic Life Events
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Causes of Suicide
Abuse, Trauma, and Mental Health
Suffering abuse and trauma can put one at higher risk of developing PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Signs and symptoms of abuse or trauma include appetite or mood changes, alcohol and/or drug abuse, difficulty sleeping, and anger. Treatment may incorporate a combination of medication and talk therapy.
Alcoholism is a disease that includes alcohol craving and continued drinking despite repeated alcohol-related problems, such as losing a job or getting into trouble with the law. It can cause myriad health problems, including cirrhosis of the liver, birth defects, heart disease, stroke, psychological problems, and dementia. Counseling and a few medications can be effective for alcoholism treatment.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) has many symptoms, signs, and causes. Therapy is one treatment option for antisocial personality disorder. It is closely related to other personality disorders (PD), such as borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.
Ingredients of the drug bath salts include mephedrone, methylone, MDPV, or MDPK. Feeling high and sexually stimulated are symptoms of bath salt abuse. The primary goals for the treatment of addiction symptoms (also called recovery) are abstinence, relapse prevention, and rehabilitation.
Bipolar disorder (or manic depression) is a mental illness characterized by depression, mania, and severe mood swings. Treatment may incorporate mood-stabilizer medications, antidepressants, and psychotherapy.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
Borderline personality disorder is a serious mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior. This instability often disrupts family and work life, long-term planning, and the individual's sense of self-identity. Originally thought to be at the "borderline" of psychosis, people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) suffer from a disorder of emotion regulation.
Bullying is repeated physical or verbal aggression that involves an imbalance of power. Types of bullying include physical, verbal, relational, reactive, and assaults on a person's property.
Cocaine and Crack Abuse
Cocaine is an addictive stimulant that is smoked, snorted, and injected. Crack is cocaine that comes in a rock crystal that is heated to form vapors, which are then smoked. Cocaine has various effects on the body, including dilating pupils, constricting blood vessels, increasing body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. The principal types of depression are major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disease (also called manic-depressive disease).
Depression in Children
Childhood depression can interfere with social activities, interests, schoolwork and family life. Symptoms and signs include anger, social withdrawal, vocal outbursts, fatigue, physical complaints, and thoughts of suicide. Treatment may involve psychotherapy and medication.
Depression in the Elderly
Depression in the elderly is very common. That doesn't mean, though, it's normal. Treatment may involve antidepressants, psychotherapy, or electroconvulsive therapy.
Drug addiction is a chronic disease that causes drug-seeking behavior and drug use despite negative consequences to the user and those around him. Though the initial decision to use drugs is voluntary, changes in the brain caused by repeated drug abuse can affect a person's self-control and ability to make the right decisions and increase the urge to take drugs. Drug abuse and addiction are preventable.
Duck syndrome is a situation initially coined at Stanford University whereby a college student may seem to be calm on the surface when actually he or she is frantically struggling to stay above water to meet the demands of student life.
Dysthymia is a less severe form of chronic depression. Symptoms and signs include insomnia, suicidal thoughts, guilt, empty feeling, loss of energy, helplessness, sluggishness, and persistent aches and pains. Treatment may involve psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy, and antidepressants.
Grief: Loss of a Loved One
Grief is the feeling one experiences after a loss (of a friendship, death of loved one, job). Complicated grief refers to grief that lasts for more than a year. Mourning describes the customs and rituals that help bereaved individuals make sense of their loss.
How to Recognize Symptoms of Suicidal Behavior
People who contemplate suicide see it as a solution to run away from the problems that seem never-ending to them. If they get help in the form of counseling and emotional support at an earlier stage, they can be saved. Some of their words and actions can give you clues if they are at risk of hurting themselves.
Mania vs. Hypomania
Mania is an episode of irritable or euphoric mood and heightened energy that typically lasts a week and severely affects the sufferer's ability to function. Hypomania is a lesser form of mania that is less debilitating for the sufferer. Symptoms of mania last for seven days and include racing speech, decreased sleep, impulsivity, and grandiose ideas. Hypomania symptoms last at least four days and include trouble focusing, restlessness, and excessive spending. Treatments for both may incorporate psychotherapy, medications, and lifestyle changes.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a psychiatric condition, can develop after any catastrophic life event. Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, sweating, rapid heart rate, detachment, amnesia, sleep problems, irritability, and exaggerated startle response. Treatment may involve psychotherapy, group support, and medication.
Postpartum depression is a form of depression that occurs within a year after delivery. It is thought that rapid hormone changes after childbirth may lead to depression. Symptoms of postpartum depression include crying a lot, headaches, chest pains, eating too little or too much, sleeping too little or too much, withdrawal from friends and family, and feeling irritable, sad, hopeless, worthless, guilty, and overwhelmed. Treatment typically involves talk therapy and medication.
Psychotic disorders are a group of serious illnesses that affect the mind. Different types of psychotic disorders include schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform disorder, brief psychotic disorder, shared psychotic disorder, delusional disorder, substance-induced psychotic disorder, paraphrenia, and psychotic disorders due to medical conditions.
Schizoaffective disorder is a mental illness that features schizophrenia and a mood disorder, either major depression or bipolar disorder. Symptoms include agitation, suicidal thoughts, little need for sleep, delusions, hallucinations, and poor motivation. Treatment may involve psychotherapy, medication, skills training, or hospitalization.
Schizophrenia is a disabling brain disorder that may cause hallucinations and delusions and affect a person's ability to communicate and pay attention. Symptoms of psychosis appear in men in their late teens and early 20s and in women in their mid-20s to early 30s. With treatment involving the use of antipsychotic medications and psychosocial treatment, schizophrenia patients can lead rewarding and meaningful lives.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that tends to occur as the days grow shorter in the fall and winter. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include tiredness, fatigue, depression, irritability, body aches, poor sleep, and overeating.
Depression in teenagers may be caused by many factors. Symptoms of teen depression include apathy, irresponsible behavior, sadness, sudden drop in grades, withdrawal from friends, and alcohol and drug use. Treatment of depression in adolescents may involve psychotherapy and medications.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with rickets, cancer, cardiovascular disease, severe asthma in children and cognitive impairment in older adults. Causes include not ingesting enough of the vitamin over time, having limited exposure to sunlight, having dark skin, and obesity. Symptoms include bone pain and muscle weakness. Treatment for vitamin D deficiency involves obtaining more vitamin D through supplements, diet, or exposure to sunlight.
Examples of Medications for Suicide
- amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep)
- Citalopram (Celexa)
- duloxetine - oral, Cymbalta
- fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, Prozac Weekly)
- imipramine (Tofranil)
- Lexapro (escitalopram)
- nortriptyline (Pamelor)
- paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
- Trazodone (Desyrel)
- trimipramine (Surmontil)
- Wellbutrin (bupropion)
- Zoloft (sertraline)