Suicide and Addiction
Friday, September 10, 2021Lindsay
You might have trouble imagining what could make someone reach a point that they would wish to end their life. However, so-called “deaths of despair” have been on the rise in the U.S., exacerbated by factors such as economic hardship and the COVID-19 pandemic. In observation of World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10, we’ll explore the link between suicide and addiction to help shed light on several factors that could drive an addicted person to make such a heartbreaking choice.
Untreated Mental Illness
Many people who abuse alcohol and drugs have a co-occurring mental illness such as depression or PTSD. Often, these issues are so intertwined that it becomes nearly impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins. Substance use disorders can magnify the symptoms of mental health problems and vice versa.
Those experiencing trauma or depression may regularly drink or get high in search of short-term relief from their emotional turmoil. However, a worsening substance use disorder will eventually compound problems in your relationships, career, finances and health, thus leading to more severe feelings of sadness and desperation.
Sadly, mental illness and addiction both come with a host of societal stigmas. Despite some headway in educating people that depression and substance use disorders are chronic diseases that can affect anybody, there is a persistent misconception that these illnesses result from a lack of good judgment. This stigma can chip away at your sense of self until you start to feel you are to blame for being sick. With the weight of this burden on your shoulders, you could spiral into despair.
If you struggle with your mental health, it will eventually affect your outlook on life. It’s nearly impossible to maintain a positive attitude when your harsh inner critic leads you to believe you never do anything right. This ongoing negativity in your internal monologue might become even more self-defeating after one or more relapses. Once you convince yourself you can’t achieve your goal of sobriety, hopelessness becomes a daily reality, and suicidal thoughts may begin to creep in. The constant battle with addiction and all the emotional issues it brings can cause people to think they will never get better – or, even worse, that they don’t deserve to.
Shame and Regret
Shame is a complex characteristic of addiction. If you have regrets about decisions you’ve made or people you’ve harmed while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you might begin to think you can’t live with yourself anymore. Guilt could weigh you down until attempting suicide seems like the only escape.
Tragically, the profound isolation brought about by addiction and mental health issues often keeps people from seeking help or talking to others about their experiences. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis or worried that someone you love might be contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. This toll-free network provides free, confidential support 24/7 via a national network of local crisis centers.
Because addiction is a leading risk factor for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, getting treatment for a substance use disorder becomes even more paramount if you frequently consider harming yourself or believe the world would be a better place without you. At Canyon Crossing, we provide women’s-only transitional living and outpatient care in Prescott, Arizona. Reach out to us today to learn more about our programming and how we can help you or someone you care about.