Fast becoming a national epidemic, suicide is the second leading cause of death for persons between the ages of 15 and 24, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5 to 14 year olds. Each year, over 5,000 people between the ages of 10 and 24 die by suicide. Suicide ranks higher as a cause of death than homicide; in other words, more Americans kill themselves each year than are killed by others. .
Suicide is a complex behavior with biological, sociological, and psychological bases. While it is impossible to attempt to define and classify all the possible reasons a person would attempt or commit suicide, it is reasonable to create certain guidelines within which the general population would fall. Study after study had shown that nearly all persons who commit suicide suffer from a mental illness, excluding the 5% who, due to life circumstances, commit what is sometimes called "rational- suicide. Apart from those such circumstances, depression, often times undiagnosed, untreated, or not treated properly, is by far the dominant cause of suicide. Of persons with clinical depression:.
50% are not diagnosed or treated.
75% don't ask for help or try to get treatment.
50% are not recognized by doctors.
75% of those being treated are under-treated.
Even if the illness is diagnosed, a person suffering from depression is 31.3 times more likely to commit suicide than a mentally healthy person. Suicidal impulses are an involuntary reaction to extreme emotional pain, and/or various chemical imbalances in the brain. .
To better understand the compelling forces of suicidal impulses, it is first necessary to understand what causes them. It is believed that depression is caused by neurobiology, or by social and environmental circumstances. .
Neurobiological studies of depression can be broken into three major groups: abnormalities in neurotransmission, neurophysiologic function (namely sleep), and neuroendocrine function.