No one is immune to suicide. People with depression are at particular risk for suicide, especially when factors shown below are present 1. Previous self-harm (i.e. intentional self-poisoning or self-injury, regardless of degree of suicidal intent) is a particularly strong risk factor. Also, a number of other risk factors for suicide have been identified and should be considered when assessing depressed individuals. It should be noted that family history of suicide or self-harm is particularly important. There are also some factors which may offer some degree of protection against suicide.
Risk factors specific to depression
- Family history of mental disorder.
- History of previous suicide attempts (this includes self-harm).
- Severe depression.
- Feelings of hopelessness.
- Personality disorder.
- Alcohol abuse and/or drug abuse.
- Male gender.
Other risk factors for consideration
- Family history of suicide or self-harm.
- Physical illness (especially when this is recently diagnosed, chronic and/or painful).
- Exposure to suicidal behaviour of others, either directly or via the media.
- Recent discharge from psychiatric inpatient care.
- Access to potentially lethal means of self-harm/suicide.
Possible protective factors
- Social support.
- Religious belief.
- Being responsible for children (especially young children).