September is recognized as suicide prevention month, but as with all diseases, disorders and public health issues, we should be conscious of suicide every single day of the year... especially when you consider that globally, someone takes his or her own life every 40 seconds.
Melody Moezzi is an author, lawyer and has been suffering from bipolar disorder for much of her life. She was diagnosed in 2009 after experiencing a psychotic break and resultant suicide attempt, and ever since she has been working as an advocate and activist for those who suffer with mental illness.
What are some things Melody wants you to know about bipolar disorder, depression and suicide?
Most importantly, there is help available. The suicide prevention hotline (1-800-273-8255 or 1-800-273-TALK) is available 365 days a year, 24/7.
If you know someone who is showing some of the signs and symptoms of suicidal behavior, it's important to reach out immediately. If that means calling 911, then so be it. Be direct in your approach, but also compassionate. And, ask very specific questions. If someone has a plan, it's more likely he or she will go through with it.
You will need to enlist the help of a mental health professional, but that doesn't mean that you can't take the first step.
With bipolar disorder, suicide can be triggered from both the depressive and manic state. In Melody's case, her suicide attempt happened in a depressive state; but she also thought she could fly in her manic state, so anything was possible.
Actually, suicide is most common in what's known as a mixed state, which combines the hopelessness of depression with the impulsivity of mania. The combination of the two can make for the perfect storm, so to speak.
Medications that are prescribed for unipolar depression can actually exacerbate symptoms of bipolar disorder and may trigger suicidal thoughts and actions. This is why it's so important for a correct diagnosis to be made early on and for medications to be monitored very closely, especially in the initial stages.
What are some of the signs a person might be suicidal?
Anyone who is actively talking about suicide, or obtaining the means to commit suicide, is significantly at risk. Even though women attempt suicide more often than men, men are more "successful" at completing the action. This may be because men often have a harder time talking about their issues or how they're feeling.
What can be done to help reduce the number of suicides that take place?
Some countries have policies put in place to help prevent suicide, but more can be done.
For instance, more than half of suicides in the U.S. are gun-related, so controlling access to firearms for those who exhibit suicidal behavior may be beneficial. Along the same lines, in Southeast Asia there has been an uptake in the use of pesticides to commit suicide, so controlling access to those chemicals may help as well.
Improving health care and access to health care is essential, as is reducing the stigma that surrounds depression and bipolar disorder.
Ultimately, it's important to keep in mind that depression can happen in anyone; it doesn't discriminate between class, race or gender.
Join Melody as she shares more about her experiences with depression and suicide, as well as what you can do if you or someone you love is feeling suicidal.