Depression can be a very serious health issue. Left untreated those suffering from it may become suicidal or even homicidal. None of us want to be faced with the decision to have a loved one locked away in a mental health hospital. However there are cases where you must have professional assistance to help the person who is depressed. Fortunately the medical community has made great strides in understanding and treating mental health problems. Asylums and institutions are things of the past.
Suicidal thoughts. While there are people who “cry wolf” with no real desire to end their life, others are quite serious. We can not accurately judge the mental anguish that another person is feeling. If they mention or indicate that they are having thoughts about killing themselves it is imperative that you take that at face value. It is far better to sound what may be a false alarm, than to have done nothing and regret it later.
Threats to others. The depressed person is more likely to harm themselves but there are plenty of cases where they lash out at others. If someone you know begins making what seems like idle threats to hurt or kill anyone you must take this seriously! The fact that they spoke of it may very well be a subconscious plea to stop them from committing the act. People who are severely depressed are not in a rational state of mind and tend to do or say things that they normally would not.
Injuring themselves or someone else. When the depressive has taken a turn for the worse and becomes violent you need to get assistance from professionals. Cutting has become more widely known in recent years. People suffering from depression may use objects to cut themselves in an attempt to “feel something”. They might turn their hostilities toward someone else and become abusive. Either case calls for in-patient treatment.
Opting out. Some depressives will not take matters into their own hands and willfully try to commit suicide. They take a more passive approach. Not eating enough, putting themselves in dangerous situations or having complete disregard for their own safety. This type of behavior should be taken as seriously as threats of suicide.
If someone you love is depressed and they exhibit any of the above behaviors it is high time to seek help. The average person does not have the training or skills needed to combat depression of this level. While out-patient treatments can be successful the more serious cases are in need of 24 hour care.