Suicide – Death of an Acquaintance

One of J,’s acquaintances, a junior from the same institution previously and girlfriend of another of J,’s friends, has passed away.

It seemed the classical determined suicide with high suicidal intent instead of just being a cry out for help. There were the following characteristics:
1. Plan of suicide
2. Hiding of suicidal intentions
3. Timing of death in mid-morning
4. Suicide notes to loved ones (settling events)
5. Fall from height instead of drug overdose (perceived lethality)

So you see, there didn’t seem to be much anybody could have done, but J.’s friend is still beating himself over it. And there’s really not much that can be said to him.

The instinct for self-preservation is very strong, so for someone to decide to end their own life is difficult. And J. believes that the mood must be so low, sufficient to be counted as a mood disorder, to choose oblivion over life. For a diagnosis of depression, 5 out of 9 major criteria should be satisfied. The criteria are as follows, in an easy to remember mnemonic of SIGECAPS. And naturally, having a depressed mood is one of the required criteria.

Sleep disturbance (increased or decreased, more commonly decreased)
Interest in pleasurable activities reduced
Guilt or feelings of worthlessness
Energy changes or fatigue
Concentration impairment
Appetite change
Psychomotor disturbances
Suicidal ideation

The sad bit is that she had contemplated seeking psychiatric help but had decided against it because of the high cost. An unfortunate decision because the cost, not purely in monetary terms, can be said to be higher now.

Once a person is noted to have a major depressive disorder or schizophrenia, for instance, his insurance premiums skyrocket as patients with major psychiatric illnesses are noted to be at higher risk of death, heart attacks, strokes but not cancer.

Furthermore, in Singapore it is required on most forms and job applications to answer whether one has any history of psychiatric illness. It ramps up the difficulty in landing a job, a particular perilous situation for a patient already prone to low mood and suicidal tendencies.

As previously mentioned, the boyfriend is taking it rather hard. And an interesting observation is that it’s taken a huge tragedy to wake him and allow him to grow up. He’s taken a new view to things, and has an ambition to succeed and make his mark on the world where previously he was milling about aimlessly. J. hopes that this spirit continues long after the period of grieving is past.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Hope your friend’s taking it better now.
    What I’m feeling upset about when I read the post is, how can no one have talked to her and helped her if she’d been depressed? If she had been feeling so lousy that she thought of seeking psychiatric help, it must have gone on for some time, that means, she hasn’t been behaving like herself for some time, but why hasn’t the people around her done anything to help?
    I think it’s seriously sad that people are so ignorant about depression when it’s relatively common. People just think depression is when a person can’t “get real and wake up”, but it’s so much more than that. Often times a depressed person just feel so lousy she can’t cope with anything anymore, and chances are, the person hasn’t always been like this. A little concern and support would have helped a lot. Too bad, as with any other disorder, because they are not illnesses like common coughs and colds and cancer and AIDS, patients often don’t get the intervention and help they need.
    Ok. Enough ranting on your blog. I just feel so indignant when I see how others treat people with disorders, like some of my students with LDs, EBDs, ADHD, ASD etc. sigh…


  2. Posted by Doe on July 22, 2011 at 4:16 am

    It’s pretty bad that you have to list these things on a job application…

    I wonder what would happen if a prospective med sch student decided to talk about personal experience with depression during an interview. Would he be denied? Undoubtedly depression is not the best illness for a doctor to have.


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