Depression/Suicide PamphletBy: Chris Smith, M.A.
At some point in everyone’s life they will feel “blue” or “down in the dumps”. We are dynamic beings and our emotions can change and be influenced by what is going on in our lives. A poor test grade, an argument with a good friend, or the loss of a job can all make us feel sad and these feelings may go away after a short period of time. Depression on the other hand can be long lasting, more intense, and have potentially deadly consequences.
If a person feels down most days for a long period of time (weeks or months) they might be depressed. People who are depressed often:
- Cannot experience pleasure in most of their activities (even those they greatly enjoyed before)
- Have low energy or feel fatigued
- May feel overwhelmed and cry often
- Have trouble concentrating
- Have trouble sleeping or sleep too much
- Change their eating habits. Either eating much more or much less than usual
- Feel that they are worthless or guilty
- Will experience a sense of hopelessness
Although we all might feel one of these symptoms at any given moment, when we are depressed we are more likely to feel a number of these and aspects of our lives may suffer. We might pull away from friends and do poorly in school.
When you are depressed it is hard to think that things will get better or that anything you do will help. It is important to seek out professional help if you think you might be depressed. Mental health professionals can help you with your depression using talk therapies, medication, or a combination of both.
Helping a Friend
When someone you care about is depressed it is hard to sit by and watch them as they feel worse about themselves. If you think someone is depressed: offer to talk with them and help them seek out appropriate help.
Sometimes when things are bad in our lives or we feel out of control we might think about dying and suicide. Almost all people at one point or another think about suicide, but most realize that suicide is not a solution to their problems. However, when someone is feeling overwhelmed and out of control they may have difficulty thinking clearly and making rational decisions. They will experience difficulties with sleep, work, and relationships. Often they feel that they cannot get out of their depression and that there situation is ultimately hopeless. When people feel like this they are more likely to think about ending their life and may attempt suicide.
How to Help a Friend
- Learn the warning signs
- Get involved with them and show that you care
- Ask them if they might be thinking about suicide
- Talk with them openly about suicide
- Listen and accept their feelings in a non-judgmental way
- Avoid giving advice and don’t act like you are shocked.
- Do not say you will not tell anyone.
- Help them see that there are alternatives
- Know the myths and facts of suicide.
- Remove their means to end their lives (i.e. pills, knives, etc)
- Get help. Contact the police, campus housing, the Student Counseling Center, or a crisis hotline
Suicide Warning Signs
- Preoccupation with Death and Dying
- Engaging in risky behaviors that increase the chances of dying (i.e. fast driving)
- Loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyed
- Talking about, writing about, or expressing in other ways feelings of hopelessness or being worthless
- Planning for death: writing a will, saying goodbye to friends, putting things in order
- Talking about suicide
- Changing from very sad and unhappy to calm and happy
Suicide Myths and Facts (from NHCHC.ORG)
Myth: Suicide happens without warning.
Fact: There are almost always warning signs, but others are often unaware of the significance of the warnings or unsure about what to do.
Myth: People who talk about suicide do not commit suicide.
Fact: Most people who commit suicide have talked about or given definite warning signs of their suicidal intentions.
Myth: Improvement in a suicidal person means the danger is over.
Fact: Many suicides occur several months after the beginning of improvement, when a person has energy to act on suicidal thoughts.
Myth: Suicide is more common in lower socio-economic groups.
Fact: Suicide cuts across social and economic boundaries.
Myth: All suicidal individuals are depressed.
Fact: Depression is often associated with suicidal feelings but not all persons who attempt or commit suicide are depressed. A number of other emotional factors may be involved.
Myth: Asking “Are you thinking about committing suicide?” may trigger a person to make a
Fact: Asking direct, caring questions about suicide will often minimize a person’s
anxiety and act as a deterrent to suicidal behavior.
Center for Disease Control - http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/suicide/index.html
American Association of Suicidology - www.suicidology.org