Does suicide = depression?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by kavika411, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. kavika411 macrumors 6502a

    kavika411

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    #1
    It is my understanding that the term "depression" has a scientific/health-related definition.

    My question is this: Outside of the realm of making a statement (political, personal, or otherwise), is someone who has suicidal thoughts/commits suicide by definition depressed?

    No, this isn't a cry for help. Yes, I've heard the sentence, "Suicide is the most selfish thing someone can do."

    This is simply a question - a non-rhetorical, interested-in-your-thoughts question. Thanks.
     
  2. torbjoern macrumors 65816

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    #2
    I would say that a suicidal person is beyond depressed. The same way it's not cowardish to gasp for air after having been under water for too long, it's not selfish to commit suicide when pushed far enough. It's a way of keeping the order of nature in civilized society.
     
  3. Apple OC macrumors 68040

    Apple OC

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    #3
    even though I have not researched the facts ... I would assume depression is present in many cases of suicide.
     
  4. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #4
    Any one who says that I will say has no understanding of Suicide and what is going on in the persons head who commits suicide. Also that is a bad sentence to tell someone who is having those thoughts.

    Often times someone who commits suicide is depressed but not always.

    To me suicide is much closer to no hope than depression. Once hope is lost not much is left.
     
  5. torbjoern macrumors 65816

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  6. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #6
    No.

    Depression is a clinical condition. Suicidal thoughts will often be present in those suffering from depression.

    But there are also those who commit suicide who are not depressed. People have committed suicide as a political or religious statement, as part of cult rituals (often joyously), in order to save others by means of their self sacrifice (to 'jump on a grenade') and in any number of other circumstances.

    So no, while depressed people may be suicidal, you cannot say that all suicidal people are depressed.
     
  7. kellen macrumors 68020

    kellen

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    #7
    Well said and I concur.
     
  8. NickZac macrumors 68000

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    #8
    People who are depressed sometimes commit suicide, but many people commit suicide without ever showing signs of depression. While a higher chance of a person who commits suicide having depression has been observed, about 25-50 million people in the US are currently suffering from 'depression'. The amount of these people who commit suicide is small in comparison to how many people have depression, and also, because depression is common, many people who commit suicide may be labeled as 'suicide because they were depressed', where as despite having depression and having also committed suicide, the two may not have any relation. This 'retrospective reasoning' is a dangerous place.

    There are a lot of factors that can drive a person to commit suicide, and many have little to no relation with depression. Also, some cases of suicide are also accidents. A colleague of mine told me that she got a call from a bodybuilder with severe pain abdominal pain. She asked if he used any medication and the guy essentially said 'I had a headache so I took some Tylenol, and it didn't help so I took some more'. The amount he took was a complete small/medium bottle and he figured because he had a high metabolism and was a big guy that he needed more than the 'standard' dosing. Obviously, Tylenol is a very dangerous drug when used in excess and it will nuke your liver. I figure most people know that. Also, Tylenol is often used for 'attempted' suicide (most seek treatment for various reasons before death). If the guy died due to him eating an entire meal of APAP, without knowing why directly from him, it would be hard not to conclude that it was suicide. Suicide and accidents do tend to run close at times, as does intentional versus unintentional harm.
     
  9. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #9
    I can't agree.

    Incontinence isn't a choice. A brain aneurysm isn't a choice. Suicide is a proactive action.
     
  10. firestarter, Jan 30, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 30, 2011

    firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #10
    I mostly agree. The linked page was written in a non-judgemental style in order to dissuade potential suicides in a gentle manner... it wasn't written as a philosophical text.

    Suicide as a result of a mental illness may have a large uncontrolled compulsive element to it though.
     
  11. torbjoern macrumors 65816

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    #11
    By "chosen", I mean as in rationally chosen. It's not rational to end one's own life - it can't be rational from the POV of the person who makes such a 'choice'. The only exceptions I can see are for those who are about to die a horrific, slow and painful death, and we all have our thresholds. Suicide is something that happens when the pain is to strong to deal with - but how can one experience relief from the pains when already being dead? This is why I can't see suicide as a rationally chosen option (although saying "never" might have been too far).
     
  12. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #12
    But there are many rational examples. Killing yourself to further a political cause, to save your children, to save your comrades. These are rational choices taken to further an aim you judge to be greater than yourself at the time. You could even argue that it's genetically and evolutionarily favourable to further your kin's survival at the expense of your own.

    I know the OP separates these reasons out: "(political, personal, or otherwise)", but the list of exceptions becomes too long for the depressive/irrational argument to hold water.
     
  13. torbjoern macrumors 65816

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    #13
    Sometimes one will do dangerous things to save the lives of others. This is being brave, and does not necessarily have anything to do with being suicidal. Suicide is mainly about death for one's own death in itself.
     
  14. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #14
    I guess it depends how you define suicide.

    So the phrase isn't reserved for those who kill themselves with the only intention to bring about their own destruction. It would also encompass those who die at their own hands to further a cause.
     
  15. torbjoern macrumors 65816

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    #15
    Sure. But only if 1) it's the death itself that furthers the cause, or 2) death is totally inevitable as a result of the act and the person to do the act already knows about it.
     
  16. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

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    #16
    I can see where you're coming from, but I find it difficult to agree with your premise that suicide is irrational given the large number of counter examples.
     
  17. Ryan1524 macrumors 65816

    Ryan1524

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    #17
    The circumstances that may lead to suicide aren't chosen, but suicide itself is. When the prospect of living becomes unbearable, suicide becomes the only rational choice. Of course, at this point it's difficult to say what's rational and/or logical.

    As for people who died for political causes, it's more appropriate to use the term sacrifice and martyrdom, then suicide.
     
  18. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

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    #18
    To what ends are we discussing choice in this matter? To show that suicide is somehow less of a problem because victims are "choosing" to take their own life, or is this purely a semantical argument? In either case, it's irrelevant.

    Let's begin with the premise that no one under normal circumstances wants to die. I find this to be self evident, so won't get into discussing it further.

    That being the case, even if someone "chooses" to take their life, it follows that dying isn't their ultimate desire. A terminally ill cancer patient may over-dose on morphine because they can't bare the pain, but their desire is to end the pain, not end their life. Likewise, a single parent might sacrifice their life for the life of their child by jumping in front of oncoming traffic to push their child out of the way, but it was not the parent's desire to die and leave their child orphaned; they made that "choice" because it was better than the alternative. Similarly, a very depressed individual might take their life because it's the only way they see to end the pain; they don't want to die, but they see it as the only way to end their suffering, so they "choose" to die.

    In Sophie's Choice, we see Sophie "choose" between the lives of her two children: one of them she chooses to live, and the other she knows will die (if she doesn't choose, both are lost). It's one of the cruelest and most heart-wrenching things I can imagine.

    Sure, in each of the above situations we see someone making a "choice" but it isn't about choice at all. It's about desire, and no suicidal person desires to die over the alternative of ending their suffering in another manner.

    As an aside, I feel anorexia and bulimia are similar in that the sufferer is "making a choice" not to eat properly; it appears that way to us and is therefore frustrating and heartbreaking to watch, but it's not really a choice they are making consciously. From their perspective there is not other option, and is therefore not a choice at all.

    *****​

    To the original question... mental illnesses are drastically complex, so I'm very hesitant to make a generalization like "all suicidal people are depressed." This wouldn't allow for other causes like anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, pain management, etc. It also wouldn't allow for the varying causes (and therefore ultimate diagnoses) of of depression; there are biological and chemical causes, social causes, seasonal causes, drug and alcohol abuse, etc.
     
  19. iLikeToDrum macrumors member

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    #19
    I always thought it was a sign of optimism. Like.. onto bigger better things.

    Riiiiight???
     
  20. Ryan1524, Jan 30, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011

    Ryan1524 macrumors 65816

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    #20
    Nice.


    You're correct in making this distinction. Suicides may have chosen rationally for the 'better' option, but often times their perception of what is real are false. In this case...can we say they made the right choice? ...or was it a chemical imbalance, a disease, an abnormality that we can help and correct? If such a person is born with the genetic predisposition for those thoughts, are we then lobotomizing them if we were to 'help'?
     
  21. NickZac macrumors 68000

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    #21
    And what about medications that have been shown to increase both suicidal thoughts and actions? How does that fit in?
     
  22. Ryan1524, Jan 30, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011

    Ryan1524 macrumors 65816

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    #22
    Taking those meds would be a choice. And whatever consequences/side effects are part of that choice. Unfortunately, not everyone reads the warning labels, or are aware at all that their judgement/perception may be clouded. I'd like to say their free-will has been handicapped. At the same time, nobody has 20/20 judgment; everyone perceives the world in their unique way. So to what extent to do we define free-will and choice as being true to its purpose?
     
  23. neko girl macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    Suicide and depression are not synonymous, but I would think that depression is very very common contributor. There are many contributors.
     
  24. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

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    #24
    Suicidal thoughts are often, but not always associated with depression. Oddly enough, one of the possible side effects of many anti-depressants is an increase of these thoughts. It's a "black box warning", a side effect that needs to be dealt with right away. The link below is one of several standard depression questionnaires.

    Goldberg Questionnaire

    Dale
     
  25. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

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    #25
    There is a reason it is a black box warning.

    1st everyone react differently to the drugs and it takes some time for things to kick in or the drug is not going to be on that works and has the opposite effect. Anti depressants are kind of a guess work when they prescribed them. They have a list of drugs that more should work and for some people they go threw a pretty long list before they find the drug and dosage that works.

    2nd they know the mental side of things people drugs early on so they think they are getting better and as such drop their defense to those thoughts. Problem is the drugs have not had time to build up in the system and take effect. The mental defenses have been taken down that the drug is not there to help support the person.

    Lastly Anti depressants have some pretty nasty side effects at least short term while someone is getting used to them. The last one I took it left me with some pretty nasty head aches the first few days I was on it and the one I am currently taking it gave me head aches and vertigo. I could not stand up for more than a minute or 2 with out getting dissy.
     

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