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Bipolar Disorder Emergencies and Suicide Prevention

Bipolar disorder may raise the risk of suicide. Mania and depression, the hallmarks of bipolar disorder, can be dangerous. During a manic phase, a person with bipolar disorder may be reckless. In about half of cases, people with mania can become psychotic -- hearing or sometimes seeing things that aren't real. During a depressive state, things may seem so hopeless that life doesn't seem worth living. . Manic or depressive episodes that involve mixed features (aspects of mania during depression, or depression during mania) are particularly dangerous. A person might feel depressed but keyed-up and agitated or energized at the same time.

Suicide is a very real risk for people with bipolar disorder, particularly when they're in a depressive episode -- 10% to 15% of people with bipolar disorder kill themselves. Many more attempt suicide. It's an alarming statistic, but you have to remember that treatment greatly lowers the risk.

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Any person with bipolar disorder needs to know what to do in an emergency.

Your condition -- by its very nature -- may prevent you from seeing things clearly. So when you're feeling well, make a plan with your friends and family for what to do in case you become unsafe. You should agree to:

  • Call your health care provider, therapist, or a suicide hotline right away if you feel suicidal.
  • Ask for help from friends or family members.
  • Stay safe until you can get help.

Remember that mood episodes are temporary. Suicidal thoughts are a symptom of your bipolar disorder. You will feel better with time.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on July 31, 2014
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