A Sad Truth: Bipolar Disorder & Suicide

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I’ve touched on the statistics surrounding this issue in a past post, but now I feel the need to express myself on how it makes me feel on a deeper, more personal level.

Suicide is a very serious and polarizing topic for many. It almost seems that some people make a conscious decision to avoid the issue. It’s something that takes a lot of people out of their comfort zone. No matter, it’s a reality that needs to be able to be addressed.

This applies to those with bipolar disorder ten-fold. The stats are frightening, and the illness is already scary enough.

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, 19% of those with the disorder will commit suicide and at least 50% will attempt suicide at least once in their lifetime. I don’t mean to belabor the point with numbers, but I am deeply bothered by these statistics on a personal level.

There are approximately 5.7 million people in the United States with bipolar disorder, and 19% of those afflicted with the illness will “successfully” commit suicide. 1.14 million people out of 5.7 million people will eventually commit suicide. 3.42 million people out of 5.7 million people will attempt suicide at least once. If those numbers don’t shock or affect you in some way, then all hope for us may be lost.

There are many negative aspects of having bipolar disorder, but only a few that I take seriously anymore and this one of them.

I am shocked and baffled by the numbers. Not because I don’t understand where people with this illness are coming from. I am extremely saddened for my fellow man.

I am shocked. And I am confused as to why there is such a stigma around this disorder and mental health in general when we have these kind of numbers.

In 2019, approximately 12,000 people with bipolar disorder committed suicide, and between and 3 % – 14% of all suicides are committed by people with this specific mood disorder. It’s frightening to the point of almost being unbelievable.

I know that stating these facts is like beating a dead horse, and if that’s the case, well, I say beat away.

The idea of committing suicide is not something I’ve had to deal with on a serious kind of level so it feels like I’m on the outside looking in most of the time. I do have my moments, but I’m more of a spectator than a spectacle.

I could go on and on about how upsetting it is to know the reality of this specific aspect of having bipolar disorder, but I’m getting upset just trying to explain how upsetting these facts are to me.

Maybe one day things will be different, but I think as long as there isn’t a more consistent and manageable treatment plan for all these numbers will only rise. It’s hard to accept that, in some ways, I too am a statistic. However, I am not my diagnosis and I work hard to continue to believe that.

No matter how upset I can get over the facts, I’m not so unstable and fragilethat the issue cannot be addressed.

4 thoughts on “A Sad Truth: Bipolar Disorder & Suicide

  1. Thank you for taking time to make this topic known. I have been in a mental hospital for my plan once and an overdose looked at as a cry for help but the drs stigma thought me going to get real acute help would be a bad thing. Just this weekend I had strong thoughts for which my mind couldn’t figure out even why I was. I work in the field now of social work so I know even more how statistics can pan out

    1. The stats are frightening and I will continue to spotlight on those. If the stigma won’t go away then I have no choice but to showcase how that stigma can impact someone’s life.

  2. This is a difficult and complex topic, for sure. I’m glad you touched a bit on the surface of it. Many in my family had or currently have bipolar disorder. Some of the courses of our bipolar disorder were a bit different, but obviously other aspects were the same. My youngest nephew lost his life to bipolar depression in 2017. He was only 24. He had had 9 hospitalizations during his short life, with two including ECT. I prefer to say/write that he “lost his life to bipolar” rather than that “he committed suicide”. Having had a severe course of the disorder myself, I know it as a fight against a formidable figurative foe that sadly far too many lose.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: