suicide risk

When a doctor diagnoses a mental health disorder like manic depression, it raises concerns about a loved one’s health and well-being. As a family member, you want to offer a loved one your support and help, so you need to understand the risks associated with a mental health disorder.

According to MedScape (1), almost 60 percent of men and women with bipolar disorder show signs of substance use disorders. Comorbidity, or a co-occurring disorder, increases the health risks associated with substance use or a mental health disorder, particularly in relation to suicide risks and attempted suicide.

Risk of Attempted Suicide in Manic Depression

According to Web MD (2), roughly 30 to 70 percent of individuals who commit suicide had some form of depression. Among those who committed suicide in relation to manic depression or other depressive disorders, 75 percent were men; however, women attempted suicide more often than men, reports Web MD (2).

The National Institutes of Health (3) report that 25 to 50 percent of individuals with bipolar disorder, or manic depression, attempt suicide at least one time in their life. Suicide attempts occur more often when a loved one shows signs of depression, but addiction or other factors also contribute to the risks associated with suicide.

Addiction and Manic Depression

Co-occurring disorders, which refers to a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder that occur at the same time, impact the way that a loved one thinks and behaves. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (4), almost 50 percent of individuals with a severe mental health disorder show signs of addiction. Furthermore, 1/3 of all individuals with a mental health disorder misuse drugs or alcohol, even if the individual does not exhibit severe symptoms.

Psychology Today (5) reports that individuals with a substance use disorder are 6 times more likely to attempt suicide when compared to the general population. Since drugs and alcohol alter an individual’s brain and emotions, it impacts his or her thought processes. Psych Central (6) reports that a loved one takes drugs in an effort to reduce the impact of manic depression for a short period; however, the drugs actually perpetuate negative effects in the individual’s life.

Signs of Suicide Risk

Since manic depression and addiction increase the risk of attempted suicide, you and other loved ones must pay attention to the individual’s behavior. Red flags that raise concerns about suicide risks include:

• Feeling worthless or hopeless

• Discussing death or suicide

• Suddenly changing from a down or sad mood to a calm or happy mood without any transitional period

• Taking dangerous risks, like driving through a red light or driving at excessive speeds

• Calling or visiting loved ones without warning or in a way that deviates from normal behavior

• Changing or making a will without any clear reason or life change

• Severe depression

Manic depression impacts a loved one’s behavior and thought processes. If you notice that a loved one seems fixated on death, talks about suicide, or takes risks with his or her health, then seek professional assistance as soon as possible.

The mood swings and changes associated with manic depression impact the way that a loved one behaves. In some cases, it leads to thoughts of suicide or attempted suicide. By treating manic depression and addiction at the same time, a loved one gains the opportunity to change negative thought patterns, improve their mood and overall wellbeing.


(1) Marcia L. Verduin, MD., Bryan K. Tolliver, MD., Ph.D., Kathleen T. Brady, MD., Ph.D., Substance Abuse and Bipolar Disorder, MedScape, December 5, 2005,

(2) Joseph Goldberg, MD., Bipolar Disorder and Suicide, Wed MD, July 8, 2014,

(3) Jamison, K.R., Suicide and Bipolar Disorder, The National Institutes on Health, 2000,

(4) Dual Diagnosis, The National Alliance on Mental Illness,

(5) Carolyn R. Ross, MD., Suicide: One of Addiction’s Hidden Risks, Psychology Today, February 20, 2014,

(6) Sherrie McGregor, Ph.D., Substance Abuse and Bipolar Disorder, Psych Central, January 30, 2013,