Depression and Suicide

Fortunately, depression is a treatable illness with frequently positive outcomes if it is identified early and treated appropriately. However, if left untreated, depression can be a life threatening emergency:

  • Over 90% of people who die by suicide have clinical depression or another mental health issue.
  • 15% of those with major depression attempt suicide at some point in their lives.
  • Suicidal thinking is never a “normal” response to stress or depression.
  • Suicidal thoughts, gestures or behaviors require immediate attention.

If suicide appears imminent:

Some signs that indicate someone may be contemplating suicide incude:

  • Worsening depression
  • Anxiety, agitation, insomnia
  • Losing interest in things one used to care about
  • Having a "death wish," tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights
  • Frequently talking or thinking about death
  • Making a plan/ seeking access to lethal means
  • Making comments about being hopeless, helpless or worthless (i.e. “It would be better if I wasn't here" or "I want out“)
  • Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Sudden, unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy

Common misconceptions about suicide:

  • People who talk about suicide won't really do it.
    Not True.  Almost everyone who attempts suicide gives a clue or warning. Don’t ignore talk.

  • If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop him/her.
    Not True. Most suicidal people do not want to die; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all does not last forever.

  • People who commit suicide were unwilling to seek help.
    Not True. Studies show a majority saw a medical professional within one month of their death.

  • Talking about suicide with someone may give them the idea.
    Not True. You don't give a suicidal person ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true. Raising the topic of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.

What to do if someone is suicidal:

  • Never leave a suicidal person alone.
  • DON’T argue, dispute, belittle, harangue.
  • DO stay calm, listen, validate, show concern, encourage talking.
  • DO tell person you will help them get the help they need.
  • If concerned, remove access to means (e.g. guns, knives, pills, etc.).

Resources for suicide prevention

Vermont Suicide Prevention Center

UMatter Vermont Youth Suicide Prevention

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Suicide Hotlines

  • National Hopeline Network: 1-800-442-HOPE (4673)
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255/ TTY: (800) 799-4889
  • GLBT National Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
  • GLBT National Youth Talkline: 1-800-246-PRIDE (7743)
  • Online Peer Support Chat
  • If US military veteran: (800) 273-8255 and press 1