Signs Someone Is Suicidal

Published 08/12 2014 05:58PM

Updated 08/12 2014 06:00PM

About 16 million adults or nearly 7 percent of Americans have at least one major depressive episode in a year. That's according to the  National Institutes of Health which calls severe depression  one of the most common mental disorders in the United States.

When is it more likely to result in suicide and what can be done to keep that from happening?

"Even the most successful, seemingly successful people suffer from depression, have drugs and alcohol as issues and in tragic circumstances it can lead to suicide," says Mark Frederick, the supervisor at UPMC Altoona's Behavioral Health Department.

And he adds, that's probably what we can learn from Robin Williams death. "A tragic as it is,"  Frederick says, "it is an opportunity in some sense to let people know,  first, this does happen and it happens to everybody all walks of life."

Thirty-four thousand Americans commit suicide every year, about twice as many deaths as are caused by homicide. But more people recover from or learn to deal with  depression, than commit suicide.

How can you tell  when someone's at risk of taking their own life and you need to intervene.

Frederick says when somebody's entire mood, disposition, energy level, and attitude of life all change, when they feel like things are terrible and they're never going to get better, those are signs they could be in danger.

"When it's severe enough to become hopeless that's when we become concerned and your eyes should be wide open as to what they night be doing or not doing," he explains.

For those at risk, UPMC  Altoona has a crisis center that's staffed 24 hours a day.
Patients can also come into the emergency room or the hospital's access center for help dealing with suicidal thoughts.

Frederick says the largest increase in suicide has been in middle-aged people and the rate has gone up more for men than women. It's important to take depression seriously and to get treatment for it.

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