Letter: Depression and the risk of suicide

Published 8:30 pm Friday, September 24, 2021

Although the majority of people who have depression do not die by suicide, having major depression does increase suicide risk compared to people without depression. The risk of death by suicide may, in part, be related to the severity of the depression.

Recent data on depression that have followed people over long periods of time suggests that almost 2% of those people ever treated for depression in an outpatient setting will die by suicide. Among those ever treated for depression in an inpatient hospital setting, the rate of death by suicide is twice as high (4%). Those treated for depression as inpatients following suicide ideation or suicide attempts are about three times as likely to die by suicide as those who were only treated as outpatients. Whereas about 7% of men with a lifetime history of depression will die by suicide. Only 1% of women with a lifetime history of depression will die by suicide.

Another way of thinking about suicide risk and depression is to examine the lives of people who have died by suicide and see what proportion of them were depressed. From that perspective, it is estimated that about 60% of people who committed suicide have had a mood disorder {e.g., major depression, bipolar disorder, dysthymia}.

If you or someone you know is depressed and is seriously considering suicide, stop and call 911 immediately. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with depression and is experiencing suicide ideation or thinking that there is no other way but to commit suicide, call the organizations below and find the help you need:

• Southeast Minnesota Crisis Line is a 24-hour service that you can call at 1-844-CRISIS2 (274-7472)

• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

• SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Both are staffed 24 hours a day, 365 day a year with  trained staff who have the resources available to get you the help that you need.

If you are struggling with depression and would like someone to talk to I may be reached at: gottahabehop38@gmail.com

Mark Jacobson

peer support specialist