Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Bipolar and Suicide

This is a very difficult subject, and I hesitate to even tackle this. But these figures and the little research I've done blow me away.

At least 25% to 50% of patients with bipolar disorder also attempt suicide at least once.
J Clin Psychiatry. 2000;61 Suppl 9:47-51. Suicide and bipolar disorder. Jamison KR, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.
This review of the authors' and others' work demonstrates that the lifetime risk of suicide attempts is highest in bipolar II and lowest in unipolar patients, whereas risk is intermediate in bipolar I patients.
Psychiatr Clin North Am. 1999 Sep;22(3):667-73, ix-x. Bipolar II disorder and suicidal behavior. Rihmer Z, Pestality P.
Nearly half of all U.S. suicide deaths each year are in patients with bipolar disorders, in whom the risk is more than 20 times that of the general population.
Bipolar disorder more prevalent and costly than believed; high suicide rate could be curbed with mainstay drug lithium

This scares the HELL out of me. It's only recently in my life that I've had suicidal thoughts, but it seems to get worse as time goes on. Up to 50% of all bipolars will attempt suicide? That means that statistically either my son or I will be attempting. That's messed up.

I'd like to say that I would never do that. But when depression hits you like a ton of bricks, rational thought is gone. What you KNOW when you're stable is NOT THERE when you're in the depths of a major depression. I've talked to people who have described voices calling them, beckoning them. I've never been there, but once again, when it hits you hard you absolutely CANNOT say what you would or would not do.

Let's all do our best to let our loved ones know the risk we're facing. They are in the best position to see what is happening to us, and to help us to seek assistance.


Maggs said...

Right there with you right NOW. Being beckoned lately but I can ignore it.

Nilla said...

I was always mostly manic. My depression wasn't horrible. Usually. I was one of those people with the voices. Except, it was in the manic phase. I did try to jump from a tall building once (when I was 19) and had a staring contest with a revolver when I was 27. Obviously I am still here. Since being on medication I haven't even been close. I just cry instead. I would think that a depressive type BP would have more problems with this than I did. The side effects of medications can really suck, but I can think clearly and I'm still breathing. I just wish that other people could stay on theirs!

Nilla said...

Oh yes. You didn't mention suicidal ideation AND homicidal ideations TOO. I tried to shoot my husband with a shotgun once and I wasn't even raging! Bi-Polar disorder is such a bitch.

The Queen said...


I think this is a really important thing for our loved ones to know. I am frequently suicidal (have had 3 serious attempts) and my husband doesn't get it. I know for a fact if I went to the pdoc today they would hospitalize me. It is very scary. When I am sane I know suicide won't help, but when I am deep in a depressions like I am right now, I feel like it is the only way out....

Jon said...

Folks, this is fucking SCARY. We can usually work our way out of depressions, and avoid these dangers. But we HAVE to develop and depend on a support system. We need people watching out for warning signs, and hauling us to the doc or even to the hospital if things get bad.

I know it's hard for someone not in this position to understand what's going on in our heads. But it's critical that they try to understand. I told my wife one time that I was in terrible shape, and more depressed than I've ever been. She withdrew - was afraid I'd go manic on her. And that was NOT the response I needed at that time. We sat down after the crisis and I explained how bad I was at that time, and she feels terrible about it. I don't want her to beat herself up about it, but it was an opportunity to talk about it, and stress the importance.

There are too many people depending on all of us to take this risk.

Maggs - can you ignore it long enough? Reach out to a loved one.

Nilla - great success story about meds and their importance to us. Search for the right med.

Queen - hang in there. If hubby doesn't understand, reach out to another loved one, or just drive yourself to the hospital. Call your Pdoc and talk. Let them know you're in crisis. Better that than not being there for your family in the future.

The Queen said...


I think I am getting past this time. I am going to have a talk with hubby when I am a bit more sane, because I don't think he really gets it. I have also asked his to read your blog, so he can see I am not the only one that thinks like I do. My husband is very understanding, but just doesn't get how I can be suicidal and I am driving him buts right now with my depression and being needy.

Thanks for being here to listen!!

jane said...

That's such good advice, to inform our loved ones. I think there's so much power in numbers & don't really feel like any of us have to go thru this alone anymore.
Both my son & I have attempted suicide. He did it like 4 times, I'm not sure how many I did. But after the last say in the nut house, I've come to the conclusion that no matter what I feel like; I'm not doing anything to hurt myself. Why? I won't do that to my kids. Kids with parents who have killed themselves have a HORRIBLE view of themselves. After all I've put my kids thru, this is 1 thing I won't. In a sense, it's a a weird sense.
I also believe in recarnation & if I kill myself, that means I have to come back & relive all this again and I'm not doing that!
I think Barb @ BloggoChicago may know about those coping skills/red flags & stuff, Jon.

jane said...

Jon, one more thing.....
If you'd like to write a post about this, what to look for, what to tell loved ones, whatever you want to say...we can put it up on our webrings blog. That would probably be extremely helpful to a lot of people.
...just an idea