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"Sometimes even to live is an act of courage"

(Seneca 1st Century AD)



Tragically in the United Kingdom alone there are over 5000 deaths by suicide and over 100,000 attempts at suicide every single year.  The World Health Organisation estimates that in the year 2000 approximately one million people world wide committed suicide; thats one death every 40 seconds. The tragedy is that the vast majority of these suicides could, with treatment, have been prevented.

Consultant Dr Anthony Clare and Spike Milligan in their book Depression and How to Survive it, say that suicide is:

"....preventable in perhaps all but a small number...."

Untreated clinical depression, with feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, loneliness, isolation, and self-worthlessness, is the number one cause of the majority of suicide. 



Clinical depression is one of the most treatable conditions we can develop.  It is a real, biological illness partly caused by low levels of certain mood lifting hormones secreted by the brain.  When we become depressed, the illness can actually alter our thinking, something which psychologists call depressive thinking.   This can cause us to think more pessimistically, and negatively about ourselves, our family, other people, our depression, our future and the world in general.  Depression can also contribute to feelings of self-worthlessness and of hopelessness and this is a potent concoction.  Its important to realise that in depression our thinking can be overly negative.  We are more liable to see the negative and problems can seem magnified larger than they really are.


                       "Not withstanding all we have to live for,

                        the brain in crisis has a perverse

                        way of having  us think the very opposite."


Dr Kevin Malone, M.D. and J. John Mann, M.D., in their article titled Serotonin and the Suicidal Brain, said that, Suicide attempts are the most serious complication of major depressive disorder.., they also say that, recent studies in Finland and England suggest that while major depression is a recognisable and treatable disorder, only a small fraction of suicides with major depression received adequate antidepressant treatment prior to their deaths.



The Royal College of Psychiatrists have said that drug and/or alcohol misuse are known to be associated with increased suicide rates.  Research has indicated that alcohol has a negative effect on the mood lifting hormone called serotonin in the brain and makes us more vulnerable to depression.  Depression and alcohol/drug misuse are a lethal combination and should be avoided at all costs.



  • Becoming depressed or withdrawn
  • Reckless behaviour
  • Getting affairs in order and giving away valuable possessions
  • Alcohol/ drug misuse
  • Personality changes, ie withdrawn, aggressive, moodiness
  • Lack of interest in the future
  • Verbal threats of suicide
  • Repeatedly referring to self worthlessness.
  • Showing marked changed in behaviour, attitude or appearance
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • At least 70% of all people committing suicide give some clue as to their intentions before they make an attempt at suicide.



There are so many incorrect myths concerning suicide such as People who threaten suicide dont commit it, Its a form of attention seeking behaviour, asking somebody if they feel suicidal will put the idea in their mind.  These myths are incorrect.  You should never dismiss as an idle threat, anybody who threatens suicide.  Professor Robert Priest, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of London says in his book Anxiety: a practical Guide to Recovery, somebody who talks about suicide is probably 10 100 times more likely to commit suicide as someone who does not talk about it.



When people suffer severe symptoms of depression they can develop feelings of hopelessness, despair, their thinking can be so pessimistic that they no longer feel of value or worth, thinking that their families would be better without them.  Yet research on relatives and friends of people who have committed suicide has shown that they dont feel better now that their relative has committed suicide.



We close this page purposefully on the subject of Hope.  Professor Priest says that throughout his career he has dealt with hundreds of people who have been so depressed that they wanted to commit suicide, he says:

"Almost always this feeling doesnt last"
He goes on to say:
"I cannot emphasize too strongly that no
matter how sincerely people believe at
the point of crisis that the right thing to
do is to end their lives, in the course of
time (and with treatment) they will lose
their suicidal feelings and be able to
enjoy life again."

Thousands of people have been where you are today and have made it through and so can you.  As you read this there are thousands of people standing by wanting to help you through this difficult time.

You are not worthless, its vital to realise that feelings of suicide, despair, hopelessness and worthlessness are clinical symptoms of a biological health condition called depression and that depression is a very treatable condition.



  •  See your doctor as quickly as possible for assessment, diagnosis and treatment.  If you are not able to see your GP then go to your local Accident and Emergency Unit.
  • Contact the organisations such as Samaritans, Befrienders




  • Milligan S. Clare A. (1994) Depression and How to Survive it, Arrow Books.
  • Priest R (1996) Anxiety and Depression: a Practical Guide to Recovery, Vermillion.
  • Shamoo T. Patros P., Helping Your Child Cope with Depression and Suicidal Thoughts.




Suicide Prevention


Online Depression Screening Test, New York University School of Medicine