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Mental Health Center

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Depression and Suicide - Topic Overview

Depression is a disease. It's caused by changes in chemicals in the brain that are called neurotransmitters. Depression isn't a character flaw, and it doesn't mean you are bad or weak. It doesn't mean you are going crazy.

People who are very depressed can feel so bad that they think about suicide. They may feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless. But most people who think about suicide don't want to die. They may see suicide as a way to solve a problem or end their pain.

Recommended Related to Depression

Depression and Risky Behavior

Depression poses many dangers, burdening people with hopelessness and raising their risk of suicide. But in attempts to quell the pain, some turn to alcohol, drugs, and other harmful behaviors that endanger them even further, psychologists say. “There is a strong relationship between depression and high-risk behaviors,” says Pamela Cantor, PhD, a psychologist and lecturer at Harvard Medical School. “Excessive drinking, drug abuse, unsafe sex, and cutting are all self-injurious behaviors that...

Read the Depression and Risky Behavior article > >

What to watch for

It is hard to know if someone is thinking about committing suicide. But past history or events may make suicide more likely.

Things that can make suicide more likely include:

Warning signs of suicide include someone:

  • Planning to or saying he or she wants to hurt or kill himself or herself or someone else.
  • Talking, writing, reading, or drawing about death, including writing suicide notes and speaking of items that can cause physical harm, such as pills, guns, or knives, especially if this behavior is new.
  • Saying he or she has no hope, feels trapped, or sees no point in "going on."

Read more about warning signs of suicide.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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