Depression a Major Risk Factor for Suicide:

Depression a Major Risk Factor for Suicide: Health Highlights: Sept. 15, 2006 — Depression, particularly if combined with substance abuse, is a major risk factor for suicide, according to a new study by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

About 10 percent of surveyed adults who had a major depressive episode actually attempted suicide, 14.5 percent made a plan to commit suicide, 40.3 percent thought about committing suicide, and 56.3 percent thought it would be better if they were dead, the agency said in a statement.

Add alcohol abuse to the equation, and the percentage of people who attempted suicide rose to nearly 14 percent, and nearly 20 percent among those who engaged in illicit drug use.

In 2004, 106,000 visits to the emergency room were attributed to suicide attempts, and if a mental disorder was diagnosed, depression was chief among them, SAMHSA said.

Nationwide, someone dies by suicide every 17 minutes. To mark Suicide Prevention Week from Sept. 10-16, SAMHSA said it has awarded 46 grants totaling .7 million for a broad range of anti-suicide programs. These include efforts by states and colleges to diagnose and treat youth depression and prevent substance abuse, the agency said.

SAMHSA offers a toll-free suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.

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