#WSPD2021: Indepth Analysis of Depression and Suicide as Experts Speak

NEWS DIGEST – Every 10th of September is marked and recognised as World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD). It is a day that contributes to global responsibility and effort to prevent suicides across the world.

WSDP was kicked off in 2003 by the International Association of Suicide Prevention (IASP) and since then, it has become a tradition of sensitising the world on the prevention of suicide. the theme for this year is ‘Creating Hope Through Action’

However, suicide — death by oneself takes place after a long period of depression.

Depression as a problem

Depression is a mood disorder that causes a constant feeling of sadness and loss of interest, which can also be called major depressive disorder or clinical depression. It influences how people feel, think and behave and can lead to a combination of emotional and physical dilemmas.

It is a widespread mental disorder globally and more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from it which is a leading cause of disability globally and is a major contributor to the overall world burden of ailment.

This can as well be assessed as disorder riders in the medical field, including everything from main depression to Dysthymia several of the symptoms that affect people’s life socially, occupationally, interpersonally and educationally.

It induces the affected person to suffer vastly and perform poorly at work, school, family and other aspects of life and can similarly lead to suicide. Depression has become a state of deep hopelessness.

Depression and suicide are linked, with an estimate that up to 60% of people who commit suicide have major depression.9 But it’s important to note that this figure doesn’t mean most people with depression will attempt suicide.

Research suggests that the majority of suicides are related to psychiatric conditions, including depression, substance use disorders, and psychosis. Estimates suggest that the suicide risk for mental disorders including depression, alcoholism, and schizophrenia is around 5% to 8%.

Suicide is the deliberate, vicious act of taking one’s life because it is seen as an escape route from an overwhelming situation. People commit suicide for a wide range of reasons. Reasons ranging from what can be perceived as mild as being chastised to something as severe as being in a dire and difficult situation.

Suicide is a global phenomenon; in fact, 77% of suicides occurred in low — and middle-income countries in 2019. Suicide accounted for 1.3% of all deaths worldwide, making it the 17th leading cause of death in 2019.

Suicide is attempted three times as often by females; women are also more likely to have suicidal thoughts.


According to the o Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Data & Statistics Fatal Injury Report for 2019, retrieved on February 9, 202, the age-adjusted suicide rate in 2019 was 13.93 per 100,000 individuals and its highest in middle-aged white men.

In 2019, men died by suicide 3.63x as often as women. On average, there are 130 suicides per day. White males accounted for 69.38% of suicide deaths in 2019.

In 2019, firearms accounted for 50.39% of all suicide deaths.
93% of adults surveyed in the U.S. think suicide can be prevented.

In that same 2019, the suicide rates were higher among adults ages 45 to 54 years (19.60 per 100,000) and 55 to 64 years (19.41 per 100,000), with the rate highest among adults ages 85 years or older (20.12 per 100,000), the only age group with a rate increase from 19.07 in 2018 to 20.12 in 2019. Younger groups have had consistently lower suicide rates than middle-aged and older adults. In 2019, adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24 had a suicide rate of 13.95.

In the same vein, the World health organisation (WHO) says more than 700,000 people die by suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. It added that there are indications that for each adult who died by suicide there may have been more than 20 others attempting suicide.

World Health Statistics bring together available data on health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicators, including suicide (indicator 3.4.2) estimates from the WHO Global Health Estimates.

In the United States, suicide has been on the rise, up 33% from 1999 through 2017, and the pace of the increase has been rising since 2006.1 In 2016, suicide ranked as the 10th leading cause of death among Americans. It is the second leading cause of death for those under the age of 35.2

The annual suicide rate in the U.S. is over 14 deaths per 100,000 population.3

Nearly 47,000 people died from suicide in 2017. According to the CDC, one person dies from suicide every 11 minutes.

In addition to completed suicides, the CDC reports that in 2017, 10.6 million adults in the United States seriously thought about suicide, 3.2 million people made a plan, and 1.4 million attempted suicide.2

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gather data from hospitals on cases of self-harm and suicide each year. However, some consider the numbers to be low because the stigma still surrounding suicide can result in underreporting.

A 2015 study in the Proceedings of the Natural Sciences found that the suicide rate among white, middle-aged American men has increased dramatically in recent years.5

Among Native Americans and Alaska Natives, suicide is the eighth leading cause of death across all ages. For the age group 15 to 34 of Native Americans and Alaska Natives, suicide jumps to the second leading cause of death.

Age Group Suicide Leading Cause of Death
10-14 Third
15-34 Second
35-44 Fourth
45-54 Fifth
55-64 Eighth
65 and older 17th

Differences in Suicide Among Men and Women

The World Health Organization reports that nearly 800,000 people die worldwide each year from suicide, which is about one person every 40 seconds.7 Globally, it is the second leading cause of death for those between the ages of 15 and 24.

A 2019 report published in The BMJ found that the global suicide rate has dropped by almost a third since 1990, while the actual number of suicides increased during this time, the suicide rate dropped from 16.6 deaths per 100,000 in 1990 to 11.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2016.

Health experts speak

Psychologist, Therapist and mental health offices in this interview share their experiences on what it is and how it can be prevented.

According to a mental health counsellor, Mr Babatunde Oladipupo, he explained that there are factors of complex combination which may result in depression. He however said, the causes are not fully understood and may not be down to a single source

He highlighted genetics, biological problems, environmental factors, Psychological and Social (Psychosocial) as some of the basis that gives rise to depression.

To him, self-discovery is the first phase of overcoming depression and suicide. This brings to people the understanding to deal with whatever might arise as a hindrance from being who they are.

“I have always advised counselees to first have a deep understanding of who they are. Which is self-discovery. There are some things our body chemistry may not be able to handle, then we throw it off.”

He advised people to learn how to find the right person to speak up to and if need be, seek external assistance should be sought and call for help as fast as possible.

Signals you should know

In an interview with a mental health expert, Dr Adebowale O. Olamide, she sees depression as a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how one feels, how one thinks and how one acts.

“Depression is a mood disorder characterised by feelings of sadness, loss, or anger that interfere with a person’s everyday activities.”

While listing possible symptoms of depression, she explained a person must be experiencing at least 5 of the symptoms below for two weeks before they can be described as someone who is depressed.

The symptoms include an irritable mood, significant weight change or appetite disturbance, diminished interest or loss of pleasure in almost all activities (anhedonia), fatigue or loss of energy, psychomotor agitation or retardation, sleep disturbance (insomnia or hypersomnia), feelings of worthlessness, diminished ability to think or concentrate; indecisiveness, recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or specific plan for committing suicide.

Dr Olamide clarifies that suicide can be prevented if people are mentally aware of it by knowing its signs and symptoms to see when someone is suicidal such as posts, comments they air on social media and actions of not being loved or catered for.

She implores people to be good listeners, gives attention to those who talk to them about their state of mind and also recommends depressed persons seek medical attention.

Prevention — a task for all

Another counsellor, Comfort Ositelu explains lack of interest, motivation and dark mood as some of the signals of being depressed.

She explains individuals who are depressed will most often not get excited or motivated by things that naturally will have them elated nor have interest in how they look — not taking care about their appearance and due to the high sense of hopelessness or helplessness, those depressed are often in a state of intense sadness and moodiness.

Comfort Ositelu describes prevention of depression and suicide as a task for everyone as an individual and community at large.

She explains the importance of reaching out to one another as one of the possible ways to prevent suicide.

She said, “As much as the African society asks us to be discreet about our doings, it is important that we learn how to reach out for help. When we find ourselves in a dilemma, talking to someone, a matured mind preferably should be the first step, because talking in itself is highly therapeutic.

“I think individuals have a role to play and as well as people around them or the community people. Suicide is never an on the spur action, series of events always preceded it and I think if one can prevent these events, then suicide can be curtailed.”

She however advises people to take their mental and medical care with priority.