What Is the Connection Between Depression and Suicide?

By Lauren Krouse

Depression can vary in how intense it feels, so mental health professionals typically categorize it into three types: mild, moderate, or severe. When depression is moderate or severe, it could lead to self-harm, thoughts of suicide, or suicide attempts. If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts or you’ve noticed someone you love is showing a sudden and worrisome shift in their behavior, pay attention and get help.

Here is what you need to know about suicide and how to get help.

If you or someone you know needs help right now:

  • Text HOME to 741-741 for a free, confidential conversation with a trained counselor any time of day.
  • Text or call 988 or use the chat function at 988lifeline.org.
  • If this is a medical emergency or there is immediate danger of harm, call 911 and explain that you need support for a mental health crisis.

Does Depression Increase Suicide Risk?

The vast majority of people who have depression do not attempt or die by suicide, but depression is linked to a greater risk of suicide. Researchers estimate that about 60 percent of people who lose their lives to suicide have had a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder

Teens and young adults who die by suicide are often struggling with alcohol or drug misuse. Those challenges tend to get worse when someone doesn’t get the support they need, so if this sounds familiar, now’s the time to reach out for help and get the care you deserve.

Some things that can put someone at greater risk for attempting suicide include: 

  • Previous suicide attempts.
  • A family history of suicide.
  • Prolonged stress or an overwhelming personal crisis, such as relationship problems, bullying, a job loss, or the death of a loved one. 
  • Access to firearms and life-threatening drugs. 

People who face discrimination—including refugees, migrants, indigenous people, LGBTQ people, and prisoners—are also at a higher risk of suicide. 

Are you wondering if you should be worried about yourself or a friend or family member? Listen to your gut. If someone you care about is struggling, don’t be afraid to ask if they’re thinking about suicide, express your support, and help them find professional help as soon as possible. Learn more about signs that someone could be suicidal and other risk factors for suicide

Remember: Suicide is preventable.  

Depression is treatable, suicide can be averted, and you can begin to feel better with time and help. If you’re having thoughts about suicide, it’s important to reach out for professional help right away. You can feel so much better than you do right now, and you need support to keep yourself safe. 

Worried about yourself? It takes a lot of strength and bravery to ask for help, especially when you feel hopeless or talking about yourself is the last thing you want to do. But your life matters, dark times pass, and you deserve support.

If you’re concerned about someone you care about, don’t try to rescue them on your own. Instead, do what you can to be the supportive person they need right now with some helpful advice. Learn how to open the conversation about suicide and connect them with the resources they need.

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If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone right now, text, call, or chat 988 for a free confidential conversation with a trained counselor 24/7. 

You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.

If this is a medical emergency or if there is immediate danger of harm, call 911 and explain that you need support for a mental health crisis.