All depression is not the same. There are times when you may feel sad, lonely or hopeless for a few days or feel depressed. However, major depression also known as “clinical depression” lasts longer having a disabling effect. It can prevent a depressed person from doing normal every day activities. In addition, the symptoms of major depression are present daily – lasting for most of the day or weeks for a period of two or more years. If left untreated, major depression is life threatening.
The signs and symptoms of major depression may be masked or minimized by those who suffer from it as well as family and friends. When it does not respond to traditional medical and psychological treatments, the depressed person may give up all hope of recovery, resort to substance abuse or commit suicide as a way out.
It is important to know the signs and symptoms of major depression and suicide as important cues may be missed when things go terribly wrong. Robin William's battle with long term depression, substance abuse and death by suicide, raises many questions and stigma of mental illness. As national awareness of depression increases with media coverage of this tragic death, hope for change in attitude towards mental illness is born.
Risk Factors for Suicide
The following are risk factors for suicide: however many people with these risk factors are not necessarily suicidal.
- Depression and other mental disorders and feeling alone
- Substance abuse (often in combination with other mental disorders)
- Prior suicide attempt
- Family history of suicide
- Family violence including physical or sexual abuse
- Firearms in the home
- Exposure to suicidal behaviors of family members or peers
What can I do for myself or someone else?
If you are concerned, immediate action is very important. Suicide can be prevented and most people who feel suicidal demonstrate warning signs. Recognizing some of these warning signs is the first step in helping yourself or someone you care about.
If you are depressed or suicidal or know someone who needs help, please call your local crisis hotline or the suicide hotline: (800) 273-8255 – or go online to http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
By the Staff of the Franciscan Alliance Employee Assistance Program