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Is there a relationship between suicide and mental illness?

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Research has shown that the vast majority of those who kill themselves are mentally ill at the time of their death. Two thirds are troubled by a depressive illness and 20% by alcoholism.

Of people with severe depressive illnesses 10-15% will commit suicide. Paradoxically, depressive illnesses are more common in women, but suicide is more common in men. Several possible explanations exist for this apparent discrepancy:

The more severe the depression is, the more likely it is to lead to suicide. So one possibility is that more severe forms of depressive illness are equally common in men and women. In addition, once men are depressed, they are more likely to end their lives. They are also more likely to choose especially lethal methods when they attempt suicide, for example, hanging or shooting. Depressive illness among people under 25 years of age is probably much more common now than it was 50 years ago, which may account for one reason why the suicide rate is increasing in young men.

Alcoholism leads to suicide in 10% of affected people. Alcoholism is much more common in men (though it is increasing rapidly among women).

Schizophrenia (a relatively uncommon condition affecting 1 in 100 of the population) leads to suicide in 10% of affected people.

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