Depression Along with Substance Abuse Accelerates the Risk Suicidal Tendancy

Depression Along with Substance Abuse Accelerates the Risk Suicidal Tendancy

Depression is a whole-body illness, involving the body, mood, and thoughts, and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, feels about himself or herself, and thinks about things. It is not the same as being unhappy or in a blue mood. Nor is it a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better.


Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression. During any one year period, 17.6 million American adults or 10 percent of the population suffer from depressive illness.

In general, nearly everyone suffering from depression has ongoing feelings of sadness, and may feel helpless, hopeless, and irritable.

Although suicide, the 11th leading cause of death among adults, is already considered a major public health problem, those who die from suicide represent only a fraction of those who consider or attempt suicide, according to a new OAS Report from SAMHSA. For those with a major depressive episode (MDE) who also engaged in alcohol or drug abuse, the likelihood of suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts were even greater.

According to the new SAMHSA short report, Suicidal Thoughts, Suicide Attempts, Major Depressive Episode, and Substance Use Among Adults, 10.4 percent (1.7 million people) of adults aged 18 or older who experienced an MDE made a suicide attempt, 14.5 percent (2.4 million people) made a suicide plan , 40.3 percent (6.6 million people) thought about committing suicide, and 56.3 percent (9.2 million people) thought that it would be better if they were dead.

When alcohol abuse – particularly binge drinking or the use of illicit drugs -- is added to a major depressive episode, the proportion of suicide attempts rises to nearly 14 percent for alcohol abuse and nearly 20 percent for illicit drug use.

"Almost everyone is touched by the tragedy of suicide in their lifetime,” said Assistant Surgeon General Eric Broderick, DDS, MPH, Acting Deputy Administrator of SAMHSA. "These new findings show the scope of the problem and underscore the importance of suicide prevention efforts.

Suicide prevention programs across the country offer help before risk factors for suicide, such as depression and drug abuse, bring vulnerable individuals to the point of danger. For people in crisis the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK offers immediate assistance.”

The report also found that in 2004, an estimated 106,000 visits to emergency departments were attributable to suicide attempts. A mental disorder was diagnosed in 41 percent of the drug-related suicide attempts treated in emergency rooms; the foremost of these disorders was depression.

These new data are being released today to coincide with Suicide Prevention Week (September 10-16). At the same time, SAMHSA has announced the award of 46 grants, totaling $25.7 million to support a broad array of activities across the country to prevent suicide, including grants funded through appropriations under the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act for youth suicide prevention.

The grants support initiatives by states and on college campuses to prevent suicide and to enhance services for youth depression, other mental health problems, and substance abuse that put them at risk for suicide.

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