Suicide and Depression

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Suicide is when someone purposely takes their own life. Many people think about committing suicide at some time in their lives, especially in times of extreme stress or depression, but most don’t follow through. Suicide affects people of all ages and backgrounds.

Warning Signs of Suicide

While it’s often hard to know who will commit suicide, there are warning signs that let you know when a person is at risk. These warning signs can include:

  • Talking About and Planning One’s Death:

o Talking about dying and making plans to harm or kill oneself.

o Having the means to carry out the suicide plan.

  • Previous Attempts: having attempted suicide in the past.


  • Depression: feeling depressed: most people who commit suicide are depressed; however, a person doesn’t have to show signs of depression to commit suicide.


  • No Hope for the Future: thinking that one is all alone in the world, that no one likes her or him, that no one would care if he or she were dead, or feeling that the future is hopeless.


  • High Stress in Life:

o Going through a very stressful time and feeling overwhelmed by problems in life.

o Thinking that there are no other solutions to the problem except death.

o Suffered a loss (loss of a relationships, job, or death of a friend or family member).

  • Combat Trauma:

o Having faced intense combat trauma.

o Having combat-related guilt about acts carried out during times of war or upsetting thoughts about the war that feel overwhelming.


  • Changes in Personality:

o Wanting to be alone all the time.

o Feeling sad, tired, irritable, aggressive, anxious, or agitated.

o Not interested in things that were once enjoyable or important in life.


  • Low Self-Esteem:

o Feeling worthless, ashamed, guilty, or hating oneself.

o Thinking, “The world would be better off without me." or “I’m a failure.”


  • Reckless or High-Risk Behavior: reckless driving, gambling, threatening others’ lives, or putting one’s life at risk.


  • Changes in Behavior:

o Having no interest in work and other activities.

o Having more problems with one’s leader, co-workers, family, or partner or spouse than usual.

o Sleeping more or less than usual and still feeling exhausted.

o Loss of appetite or over-eating, and changes in weight not due to a healthy diet.

o Treating others poorly or rudely.

o Having a hard time concentrating on and finishing routine, everyday tasks.

o Giving away valued possessions.


  • Substance Abuse:

o Using alcohol or illegal drugs for a long period of time.

o Abusing prescribed medications as a way to deal with problems.



Talk to your command, primary care physician (PCP), or call one of the national suicide hotlines for more information:

1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

The suicide hotlines will connect you to a certified crisis center nearest you where you can talk to counselors on the phone.

The Suicide Hotlines:

  • Are free and confidential.
  • Are staffed by trained counselors.
  • Have information about support services that can be of assistance.

Call When:

  • You feel overwhelmingly sad, or have thoughts of hopelessness or suicide.
  • You have concern about someone else who may be experiencing these feelings.
  • You want to learn more about suicide prevention, treatment, and service referrals.

This material may be reproduced for professional use. © 2010




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