Depression and Suicide

Suicide is a latin word ‘Sui’ means self and ‘cide’ means to kill. The term suicide is used to describe any deliberate act of self-harm which results in death. By contrast attempted suicide includes any deliberate act of self-harm which does not result in death.

Attempted suicide includes two categories of act (a) deliberate self-poisoning (or overdose) and (b) deliberate self-injury. Deliberate self-poisoning describes the intentional ingestion of more than the prescribed amount of medical substance or ingestion of substances never intended for human consumption (e.g. insecticides, pesticides, etc.) irrespective of the intended outcome of the act. Deliberate self-injury describes intentional, self-inflicted injury irrespective of the intended outcome.

Thought, intent, ideation and act of suicide are pathological and caused dysfunction to life leading to either death or survival with physical and mental disability. There is no one who has not experienced a thought of suicide but every one has strength of mind (will power) and brain mechanism to regulate subconscious impulses and live life in a regulated manner. Suicide is a result of gross disturbance of this regulatory and defense mechanism.

Suicide is a multi-faceted process. It involves a victim, a situation and stress. Combination of factors of biological vulnerability, stressful situation, potential precipitating factor, lack of support from family or poor social support lead to psychological despair leading to suicidal act. Some of the suicidal acts are cries for help. When factors are left untreated, suicidal attempt is likely to be repeated killing the individual.

Almost all people who commit or attempt suicide have psychiatric illness. Highly significant psychiatric factors in suicide include Depressive disorder, Schizophrenic disorder, substance abuse. 95 % of the persons who commit or attempt suicide have diagnosable and treatable mental disorder. Hence, suicide is preventable. Depressive disorder is diagnosed in 75 % cases and schizophrenic disorder in other 10% cases.

Most commonly, suicide seems to arise from a depressed person’s feeling that life is so unbearable that death is the only escape from severe emotional pain, financial loss, loss of self-esteem, terminal illness and other such factors. A suicidal person experiences hopelessness and helplessness; ambivalent conflicts between life and unending stress and no apparent possibilities for change or improvement (as in the above case). These feelings and attitudes are distress signals. The next step is intentional, self-inflicted death.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *