Question: What is the relationship between depression and suicide?
Answer: Depression and risk for suicide is very very closely related. The vast majority of patients who go on to commit suicide in fact have a diagnosis of depression or another mood disorder.
As president of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, our entire organization is poised to identify risk factors for depression. There are genetic risk factors and then there are patient-related risk factors such as men more at risk than women, the elderly and adolescents particularly at risk, stress is clearly an important factor here. And as we learn more about suicide risk factors, we can prevent this devastating occurrence.
As far as public health is concerned, there are 30,000 suicides in the United States every year. Most of those could be prevented if we understood better about what the risk factors were and if we could educate healthcare professionals.