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Bipolar Disorder and Suicide

People with bipolar disorder are at great risk for suicide if they are not getting treatment. The National Mental Health Association reports that 30%-70% of suicide victims have suffered from a form of depression. Men commit almost 75% of suicides, even though twice as many women attempt suicide.

Risk factors for suicide include:

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Bipolar I disorder (pronounced "bipolar one" and also known as manic-depressive disorder or manic depression) is a form of mental illness. A person affected by bipolar I disorder has had at least one manic episode in his or her life. A manic episode is a period of abnormally elevated mood and high energy, accompanied by abnormal behavior that disrupts life. Most people with bipolar I disorder also suffer from episodes of depression. Often, there is a pattern of cycling between mania and depression...

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  • Having mental and substance abuse disorders
  • Family history of mental or substance abuse disorders
  • Having attempted suicide previously
  • Having a family history of physical or sexual abuse
  • Having family members or friends who have attempted suicide
  • Keeping a firearm in the home

If you or someone you know is at risk for suicide -- and has shown warning signs -- do not leave them alone. Seek the help of a health care professional right away. People often talk about suicide before they attempt it, so pay close attention to what they are saying and take them seriously.

Some warning signs of suicide include:

  • Talking about suicide
  • Always talking or thinking about death
  • Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • Saying things like "It would be better if I wasn't here" or "I want out"
  • Worsening depression
  • A sudden switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
  • Having a "death wish," tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, like driving through red lights
  • Losing interest in things one used to care about
  • Visiting or calling people one cares about
  • Putting affairs in order, tying up lose ends, changing a will

Call 911 if You:

  • Think you cannot stop from harming yourself
  • Hear voices
  • Want to commit suicide
  • You know someone who has mentioned wanting to commit suicide

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on July 08, 2014

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