Andrew K Mac Leod

Suicidal behaviour is often assumed to be linked to depression. This chapter addresses some key questions about the relationship between depression and suicidal behaviour. First, evidence will be reviewed concerning the prevalence of suicidal behaviour in those who are depressed and the rates of depression in those who are suicidal. It will become clear that there is a strong link but that the non-overlap is much greater than the overlap: many people who commit suicide or attempt suicide are not depressed, and the overwhelming majority of depressed people will not attempt or commit suicide. The chapter will then move on to discuss how depression might be related to suicidality. Several factors will be discussed that might account for both the overlap and the lack of overlap. The final two sections of the chapter will cover evidence on risk assessment and treatment of suicidal behaviour. The evidence reviewed is not always specific to depression, as often studies on suicidality do not differentiate between depressed and non-depressed suicidal behaviour. However, given the overlap between depression and suicidality, the evidence is very relevant to depressed, suicidal behaviour. Before proceeding, it is important to clarify what is meant by suicidal behaviour.

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