Episode 14

Living with Mood Disorders and Suicidal Ideation


March 30th, 2019

33 mins 16 secs

Season 1

Your Hosts

About this Episode

Mood disorders which include major depression, bipolar disorder and dysthymia can affect individuals of all ages. The Canadian Public Health Agency reports approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives and approximately 1% will experience bipolar disorder. Studies have consistently documented higher rates of depression among women than men at a ratio of 2:1. While most individuals with mood disorder can be effectively treated in their community, many delay seeking treatment. Delays in seeking treatment may be based on feelings of hopelessness and helplessness or depleted self esteem which contributes to feelings of worthlessness, excess shame, guilt, and anger. In some situations, the stigma associated with the disclosure of a mood disorder becomes an obstacle to clear communication amongst loved ones and friends. It may also contribute to further isolation and suicidal ideation. People with mood disorders are at a particularly high risk of suicide. Both major depression and bipolar disorder account for 15 to 25% of all deaths by suicide in individuals with severe mood disorders. Statistics Canada reports that suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death in Canada. Although males are reported to complete suicide more often than females, it is females who attempt more often. Incidence increases in adolescence then increases again as people move into middle age. Questions for Further Consideration: What are some of your preconceived ideas about individuals who have mood disorders…about individuals who have attempted suicide? Sometimes individuals have pre-determined opinions about friends and neighbours who are experiencing varying mood disorders which may impact how they view callers to crisis/distress lines. Additionally, they may have strong opinions about suicide such as: “suicide is a selfish act”. If you have such opinions or are confused about your thoughts, it is a good idea to speak openly with your training coordinator. It is important to know how your predetermined feelings may impact how you support a caller with these issues. Karen Liberman says she could never have imagined that someone would visualize suicide on a daily basis for 15 years, and felt this was best for her family. How does this disclosure impact you? In some cases, this may be a surprising statement that one could never imagine to be true. It may impact some individuals in that they have known people who have mood disorders or have attempted suicide and never really “got it”. It may be valuable to ponder on this revelation and reflect on past communications with these individuals. Did you support them is a sensitive and empathetic manner? Does this give you a better understanding of their struggle? Will this make you a better crisis/distress line responder? Karen Liberman speaks frankly about perpetuating the shame of having a change in brain chemistry and why it is a “dirty subject”. Have her insights affected your ability to understand some of the obstacles family members experience when there is a mood disorder or someone with suicidal ideations? It is evident that crisis/distress line responders need to be sensitive and empathic listeners to callers who are living with a mood disorder or living with someone with a disorder. However, it might also be of value to explore how to open communication within the home and provide valuable resources to assist the process. This may be as uncomplicated as sharing pertinent internet links or to offer names of community agencies that may help with their particular needs. Explore the links provided below and add them to your resource files as relevant.