Robin Williams and too many others have lost their lives to suicide. Williams' tragic death made highly public the great need for increased awareness of the grave risk that suicide poses.
"Both depression and anxiety carry a high risk of suicide," says Mark Pollack, MD, ADAA President and Grainger Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center. "More than 90 percent of those who die by suicide have a diagnosable illness such as clinical depression, and often in combination with anxiety or substance use disorders and other treatable mental disorders."
Suicide affects all age groups, including children. More people die from suicide than from automobile accidents. It was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States in 2012, according to the most recent available statistics from the Centers for Disease Control; that year saw more than 40,000 deaths.
Most suicides are preventable, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. "Sadly," says Karen Cassiday, PhD, Clinical Director of the Anxiety Treatment Center in Deerfield, Illinois, "many who are at risk for attempting suicide never receive the treatment they need because of stigma, lack of access to care, or lack of knowledge about their symptoms."
Almost everyone who attempts or completes suicide has symptoms that mental health treatment could alleviate. As Dr. Cassiday points out, "We all recognize the need to wear seatbelts, but how many of us recognize and endorse the need for mental health treatment as part of our national and personal practice of good health?"
The mission of ADAA is to ensure that everyone receives an accurate diagnosis and access to proper treatment so that they live their lives with mental wellness and dignity.
Treatment Is Available
Early diagnosis and intervention with appropriate treatment are critical steps to feeling better. Echoing ADAA's mission, Terence M. Keane, PhD, of the National Center for PTSD and the VA Boston Healthcare System, emphasizes this: "If you're feeling depressed and alone, effective treatments are available. Consult a mental health professional today."
- Contact the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for more information.
- Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area at any time (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline).
- Families for Depression Awareness
- The Carson J. Spencer Foundation
- Working Minds
Learn about treatment (plus how to choose your therapist)
Symptoms of depression (includes a link to a site in Spanish)
Updated April 2016