After depression, substance abuse is the most common risk factor for suicide. This can be the culmination of many causes which include, but are not limited to:
- guilt and shame over incidents that have occurred throughout an individual’s active addiction
- feeling as if there are no options or ability to discontinue use of substances
- loss of important life elements due to the addiction (relationships, property, money and more)
- chemical changes in the brain that occur while actively using substances that is either part of intoxication and/or withdrawal.
- co-occurring mental health disorders
Individuals may have an underlying diagnosis of a mental health condition that had never been diagnosed or treated. In some cases, discontinuing substance use may cause psychiatric symptoms to initially worsen. Individuals with depression often self-medicate through the use of drugs or alcohol instead of getting the proper treatment they need. Often times, this is the result of individuals not understanding the root cause of how they feel and the symptoms they experience. Some examples of diagnoses that include depression and or suicidal thoughts include, but are not limited to: PTSD, Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder.
According to the suicide prevention lifeline, several warning signs are present for someone that is at risk for suicide. They may include:
- talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
- looking for ways to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun
- talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- talking about being a burden to others
- increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
- sleeping too little or too much
- withdrawing or feeling isolated
- showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- displaying extreme mood swings.
If you are struggling with depression and/or suicidal thoughts
please know that you do not have to continue to feel this way.
Hope and treatment is available.
If you have an immediate plan to complete suicide or know someone in immediate danger, waiting for treatment is not an option. For immediate assistance please visit your local emergency room or contact 9-1-1. Contact the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website for more information at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Author: Beth Peterson, LPC, CADC – Primary Counselor – Footprints to Recovery