Mental health is just as important as physical health — the focus on depression and its side effects is finally making the headlines it needs to break the stigma of perceived weakness.  Depression affects people of all races, age and background, and around 300 million people around the world suffer from it.  Suicide can be a consequence of severe depression, and its effect is the most devastating to those left behind.  Those who don’t suffer from depression may benefit in being able to recognize the symptoms to be a source of support in the recovery process.

Symptoms of depression

  • Persistent sadness, lasting two weeks or more
  • Loss of interest
  • Finding no enjoyment in life
  • Loss of self-confidence
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Increased feelings of anxiety
  • Thinking life is not worth living
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Wanting to go to sleep and never wake up again.
  • Especially low mood in the mornings
  • Feelings of extreme frustration
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Poor memory

The potential warning signs of suicide

  • Talking about suicide and dying
  • Threatening to kill oneself
  • Seeking access to means
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Feeling hopeless; saying things like “You’d be better off without me”
  • Feeling trapped and out of options
  • Increasing use of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Showing a significant mood increase
  • Giving away possessions and saying goodbye to people

If you believe someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, he or she needs professional help.  The first thing you should do is talk openly — asking about suicidal thoughts or feelings will not push a person into doing something self-destructive. In fact, offering an opportunity to talk openly about it may help to reduce the risk that he or she will act upon the feelings. Use the open dialogue as on opportunity to discuss getting professional help and encourage your loved one to call a suicide hotline.