It can be hard to overcome the sadness, apathy, and lethargy that often come with depression. However, when negative feelings and thoughts turn to self harm, or planning, it could be one of many warning signs your depression may lead to suicide. Knowing what to watch for – and discussing it with your loved ones and an experienced psychotherapist – can keep you from following that downward spiral.
Considering Death is a Warning Sign
Suicide or attempted suicide is self-inflicted injury designed to end your life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that in 2020, suicide was the 12th leading cause of death, killing nearly 46,000 people. Teenagers and adults under 45 who die are especially likely to have committed suicide.
You may not decide to attempt suicide all at once. Instead, you may experience “suicidal ideation”, or thoughts related to, considering, or planning a suicide attempt for weeks, months, or sometimes years before you make an attempt. Often, this is because you suffer from an undiagnosed or poorly controlled mental health condition which causes intrusive, unwanted thoughts, or which negatively affects your emotional health.
Get Help Addressing Suicidal Thoughts and Depression
Talk to a psychotherapist today for support when depression leads to suicidal thoughts, planning, or attempts.
Depression and Suicide
Depression is one of many mental health conditions that can develop into suicidal thoughts, actions, and ultimately death. On its own, depression can cause you to feel inexplicably low or apathetic. You may experience low self-worth, shame, or guilt tied to past actions. It is also often characterized by a lack of enjoyment from things that used to interest you. Depression often tells those who struggle with it that:
- They are alone or unloved
- They are a burden
- Things will only get worse
- They are trapped or helpless
- Those close to them are happier when they are not around
When depression flares align with difficult life circumstances, the condition may escalate to include suicidal thoughts, plans, or attempts. In fact, many who experience depression report an improvement in depressed symptoms immediately before an attempt. That is why it is important to monitor your thoughts and get help if you believe your depression may lead to suicide.
Warning Signs Your Depression May Lead to Suicide
There are many behavior cues that those around you can identify as warning signs that you are at risk of attempting suicide. However, no one but you are in your own mind listening to your thoughts. That makes you the expert on whether your depression may lead to suicide. Here are some things to look out for when depression gets severe:
- Preoccupation with death, injury, or wanting to die
- Intense feelings of shame or guilt
- Intrusive thoughts of worthlessness or uselessness
- Distancing yourself from loved ones for fear of hurting them
- Giving up on long-term plans or goals
- Forming a specific plan for how you will accomplish your death
- Desire to purchase or collect lethal means (including guns, rope, medications, etc.)
- Sudden motivation to set your affairs in order or see friends or family one last time
- Giving away sentimental items
- Feeling at calm or at peace after a period of sadness
If you experience any of these symptoms, treat them like red flags. These may be some of the last warning signs you get before committing suicide. Many people who attempt suicide regret the decision after the fact. They may feel their choice was selfish or negatively impacted those closest to them. If you want to avoid that harm, you need to reach out at the first warning signs of suicidal thoughts.
Get Help to Avoid Suicide
If you are currently experiencing suicidal thoughts or are considering making an attempt to harm yourself, you can get help right now. Dial 988 or contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline anytime – 24 hours a day – for immediate confidential support for suicidal thoughts or emotional distress.
For less immediate concerns, reach out to your loved ones, find a support group, or connect with an experienced psychotherapist near you. These resources can help you address your mental illness, remind you of the positive parts of living, and develop coping strategies to respond to future suicidal thoughts when they arise.
David Stanislaw is a psychotherapist with over 30 years of experience. He helps adults, teens and children with depression, suicidal ideation, and recovering from suicide attempts. Contact David Stanislaw to get help today.