By: Dr. Emran of Simple Health Radio

One of our online followers reached out to me with a question that she had been thinking about. Her name is Terry and she is the founder of a nonprofit called Giving Voice to Mental Illness. She is also the co-host and producer of a podcast called Giving Voice to Depression.

Her website is

Terry has been very active in advocating for mental health services and specifically depression. Take a listen to what she sent me and the question that she is hoping I can answer.

Contact the National suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 24 hours a day for help if you are worried about hurting yourself or someone you know is thinking about suicide.

Some of the statistics are very sobering.

Suicide attempts are 30 times more common than suicide deaths.

Over 3,000 suicide attempts in America happen every day. Many of these are never reported. Out of these attempts, at least 100 people per day will die. Over 45,000 Americans die each year by suicide.

Let’s talk a little bit about the vocabulary that doctors and psychologists use.

Suicidal ideation – Thoughts about killing oneself; these thoughts may include a plan.

Suicide attempt – Self-injurious behavior that is intended to kill oneself, but is nonfatal.

Over half of people will move from suicidal ideation to creating a plan for suicide.

Suicide threat – Thoughts of engaging in self-injurious behavior that is verbalized and intended to lead others to think that one wants to die, despite no intention of dying (e.g, “If you leave me, I will kill myself”).

What triggers the decision to commit suicide? It is very difficult to pinpoint the exact cause, but there is a profile that can possibly predict who is at highest risk. However, even people at low risk can commit suicide.

The most common ways to die include firearms, hanging, and drug overdose. Limiting access to weapons is critical to prevent suicide, especially in people who drink or do drugs. The impulse to end one’s own life is too strong for those people.

There is a 9% lifetime prevalence of suicidal ideation.

Men are 3 times more likely to die by suicide than women. Women attempt suicide more, especially by using overdoses.

Among people who died from suicide, 95% had at least one psychiatric illness.

The highest link with suicide includes schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar disorder.

Eating disorders, all types of abuse, head injuries, PTSD, are also caused for suicide.

Possible Profiles:

A previous history of a suicide attempt is a very high risk that the patient will try again in the future. Even if the person was a teenager when they first tried, they may try to commit suicide in their middle ages.

People who have been hospitalized in a psychiatric facility have a 40% risk of committing suicide within one year.

If a family member committed suicide, there is a 50% chance that another first-degree relative will also commit suicide.

People who live in rural areas are more likely to commit suicide the people who live in large cities.

People who live alone have a higher risk of suicide.

Anniversaries of a significant relationship loss have a link with increased suicide risks.

Any sudden change in personality is a strong indicator of possible suicide. For example, if a person suddenly becomes depressed and is not acting like themselves, this can set off a warning sign. However the opposite also true. People who suddenly become happy and start developing a plan for how to and their lives are at a very high risk of committing suicide.

Hopelessness is a condition where people feel they have no other options and their life will continue to get worse no matter what they do. It can be due to a combination of medical, financial, and social reasons.

Visit to connect with Terry.



The Giving Voice to Depression podcast is a production of Giving Voice to Mental Illness, Inc. a 501(c)(3) founded to start healthy, healing conversations that reduce stigma and promote understanding.


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