Understanding Mental Disorders with High Suicide Rates
Most everyone has dealt with the pain from the aftermath of suicide. With suicide being the 10th leading cause of death for all ages, many friends and relatives have been left to wonder why a loved one would take their life. Studies are showing that there is an extremely high risk of suicide among people with major psychiatric disorders. Among them, bipolar disorder, unipolar affective disorder and schizophrenia to name a few. Below are four mental disorders with a high risk of suicide and how you can help prevent that outcome.
The mental illness at highest risk of suicide is Bipolar Disorder at 7.77 percent taking their own lives. Bipolar disorder is a condition in which the person experiences “extreme changes in mood, thought, energy and behavior.” It is also known as manic depression and affects over 2 million adult Americans.
With an onset during late teens to early adulthood, bipolar disorder does not discriminate as it is found among all ages, races, social classes and ethnic groups. In fact, Demi Lovato, an actor and singer, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 22. Since then, she has used her fame to bring attention to the illness and even said, “it’s possible to live well, feel well, and find happiness with bipolar disorder or any other mental illness [people are] struggling with.”
Though prevalent, this disorder is highly treatable with a specific combination of medications including mood stabilizers and antidepressants. There are non-medicinal courses of treatment as well. For Instance, Vagal Nerve Stimulation involves a device implanted to send signals to the Vagus Nerve to treat depression. Talk therapy is also suggested to complement medications.
With a rate of 6.55 percent, schizophrenia clocks in as the 3rd highest mental illness resulting in suicide. While the causes of schizophrenia are still debated, scientists have recognized a link to genetics and that the disorder tends to run in families. It may lie dormant for some time until it’s triggered by hormones, physical changes or stressful situations, and is believed to be an imbalance of brain chemicals.
Schizophrenia is commonly shown in the movies and media as a person who hears voices and sees hallucinations. That is a symptom, but just one of many a person with this disorder will experience. Other symptoms for the illness include delusions. Schizophrenia sufferers may also exhibit disordered thinking and speech; speaking in gibberish, or repeating words and ideas. In conjunction with speech, disorganized behavior also manifests in ways like wearing inappropriate clothing for the weather, problems with hygiene and unprovoked outbursts.
No cure currently exists for schizophrenia, but with proper treatment, many people can go on to live happy, normal, fulfilled lives. Treatment for this illness includes antipsychotic drugs, as well as rehabilitation services. With therapy, self-help groups, housing and employment groups and drop-in centers, there are many resources for those who are living with this disorder. A google search can find schizophrenia treatment centers near you.
Also known as major depressive disorder, this is like bipolar without the manic highs, and the resulting suicide rate is about 6.67 percent. Depression is not simply feeling sad in reaction to normal lifetime occurrences like loss, changes, or catastrophes. It is a prolonged sadness which impairs every day function. It affects weight, appetite, sleep and energy and needs to be treated for recovery.
Treatment for unipolar disorder includes medications which could be weaned when reaching a point of no longer exhibiting symptoms. Chronic recurrences of depression will need to be treated preventatively and, like bipolar, talk therapy is suggested.
Of all the mental illnesses, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate, though not the highest suicide rate. 30-50 percent of anorexics have a comorbid (occurring at the same time) mood disorder, and about one in five anorexia deaths is by suicide. In fact, every 62 minutes, at least one person will succumb to damage done by an eating disorder.
Just as other mental illnesses, eating disorders are overwhelmingly related to physiology with 50-80 percent of the risk coming from genetics.
This illness is not just a woman’s illness as generally characterized in media and movies. The rate of men with eating disorders is on the rise with 40 percent of those with a binge eating disorder being male. Famous actor and comedian, Russell Brand, has spoken about his struggle with bulimia. At the time he said, “it was really unusual in boys, quite embarrassing. But I found it euphoric.” He has since received treatment and currently helps raise funds for addiction recovery programs.
There is no medication for eating disorders, so the only way to combat this illness is by psychotherapy or psychological counseling. Effective, long-term recovery has been achieved with a combination of these and special attention to nutritional and medical needs.
Final words on Mental Disorders with High Suicide Rates
Every mental illness carries with it some risk of suicide. Sadly, most people have felt the sting of death as a loved one succumbs to their disorder, leaving them feeling helpless. However, with awareness and treatment, you don’t have to be helpless. If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental disorder, don’t withdraw. Engage, fight, seek treatment and don’t become a statistic, become a survivor.