Suicide is a tragic event that impacts thousands of Americans and their families annually. According to the CDC, suicide rates in the United States increased roughly 30% between 2000 and 2018. It’s a leading cause of death in America, with one person dying by suicide approximately every 11 minutes. Understanding what causes suicidal thoughts, which mental disorders contribute to this tragedy and what treatment options are available can help Americans seek support.
Help is available 24/7 at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988.
Main Factors Associated With Suicide Rates
In 2020, roughly 12.2 million American adults considered committing suicide, and approximately 3.2 million planned how they would do it. In the same year, 1.2 million Americans actually attempted suicide, according to the CDC. Several factors are associated with suicide rates and risk. Many are socioeconomic, based on where a person lives, what industry they work in and how they identify with their sexuality. The CDC states that specific groups within the U.S. are more likely to be affected by suicide, such as American Indian/Alaska Natives who are non-Hispanic.
Veterans also have higher rates of suicide than the average American population, as do people who live in rural areas compared to people living in urban centers. The CDC also states that young people in the LGBTQ+ community have higher rates of suicidal thoughts and tendencies compared to heterosexual youth of the same age. This can be for many reasons, including bullying in schools and on social media.
While external factors can contribute to a person’s tendency to have suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide, there are also internal factors to consider. Some mental disorders cause depression and lead to suicidal tendencies, increasing this risk for some people more than others.
Which Mental Disorder Contributes to Suicides?
Is suicide a mental disorder? Not on its own; suicide or suicidal ideation can result from several mental health conditions that affect the brain’s hormone balance. If you’re wondering which mental disorder contributes to suicides at the highest rates, these are typically psychotic disorder, substance use disorder and bipolar disorder.
According to a 2020 Korean study, psychotic disorders have the highest prevalence of suicide rates. Psychotic disorders affect brain function and can alter a person’s perception or belief of what is real. Examples of these disorders include schizophrenia, paraphrenia and delusional disorder.
What Are the Effects of Psychotic Disorders?
Psychotic disorders affect people differently, depending on which specific type of psychotic disorder they’re diagnosed with. However, common symptoms of psychotic disorders can include:
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Incoherent speech
- Unusual or reckless behavior
- Slow movements
- New or sudden tension or conflict within your relationships
- Inability to express emotions
How Does Psychotic Disorder Affect Suicide Risk?
A 2005 meta-analysis estimated that 4.9% of people with schizophrenia will commit suicide in their lifetime, typically shortly after the illness appears. People with schizophrenia are at a higher risk of committing suicide than the general population by around eight times. Studies suggest that people who are aware of their schizophrenia may be at a higher risk of suicide because they’re afraid of further mental deterioration. This, combined with feelings of social isolation, hospitalization and lack of support from their family or friends, contribute to the higher rates of suicide in these individuals.
Bipolar disorder is another mental health condition that can increase a person’s risk of committing suicide. There are three types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder and cyclothymia. Each diagnosis is distinct and defined by how many times a person has experienced depressive, manic or hypomanic episodes.
What Are the Effects of Bipolar Disorder?
The symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on which specific type of disorder is present and vary between manic, hypomanic and depressive episodes. Signs of a manic episode include:
- Excessive energy or happiness
- Severe mood swings
- Racing thoughts
- Jumbled or rapid speech
- Impulsive decision-making
- Inability to sleep
- Reckless (unusual) behavior
Symptoms of hypomania look slightly different. They’re milder than a manic episode and may not seem unusual on their own but are typically followed by depressive episodes. The effects of hypomania include:
- Mild mood swings
- Sudden confidence
- Feeling happy and positive
Depressive episodes can look like:
- Low energy
- Intense sadness
- Suicidal thoughts
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Weight gain or loss due to changes in appetite
How Does Bipolar Disorder Affect Suicide Risk?
Suicidal ideation is a common problem for people with bipolar disorder, especially during their depressive episodes. A 2019 study found that roughly 20% of people with (untreated) bipolar disorder die by suicide. On top of this, 20–60% of people with bipolar disorder attempt suicide one (or more) times during their life.
Substance Use Disorder (SUD)
SUD is a condition that prevents someone from controlling their behavior with substances, such as alcohol and legal or illegal drugs. According to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration survey, approximately 40 million Americans were living with SUD as of 2020.
What Are the Effects of SUD?
SUD has significant physical, behavioral and psychological effects, including:
- Unexplained paranoia or anxiety
- Slurred speech
- Secretive behavior
- Increased tolerance of the substance, prompting more use
- Excessive fatigue
- Life revolving around the substance use
- Bloodshot eyes
- Pupil dilation
- Lack of coordination
- Increased irritability or anger
- Decreased effort in personal grooming
- Personality changes
- Lack of motivation
How Does SUD Affect Suicide Risk?
SUD is one mental illness with the highest suicide rates after bipolar disorder and psychotic disorders. There’s a strong connection between substance abuse (both drug and alcohol) and suicidal ideation and suicide. Lower minimum drinking ages have been associated with higher rates of youth suicide. Also, 20% of non-traffic injury deaths linked to intoxication are suicides.
It’s Critical To Seek Help for Suicidal Thoughts
Suicidal ideation is an effect of many types of mental disorders beyond those discussed here. Major depressive disorder is another example of a mental disorder that may result in suicidal thoughts. If you or someone you love is experiencing suicidal thoughts, you don’t need to go through the experience alone. Call the professionals at Restore Mental Health at (877) 594-3566 for help with suicide in mental disorders.