The most common way that people talk about suicide focuses on the individual’s mental health. Clinical depression is positively correlated with suicide, but mental health isn't the only factor involved in suicidal thoughts or attempts. The biomedical model of suicide states that psychiatric pathologies and inadequate treatment of depression are the main causes. While still the dominant view, this model of depression is increasingly being challenged by studies that suggest there may be other causes for the condition. Depression is now widely seen as a complex disorder with multiple contributing factors, rather than the simple chemical imbalance originally described in the 1960s.
If the causes of depression — and by extension suicide — are not solely in a person’s brain chemistry, what else could contribute? In short, depression results from a complex interaction of social, psychological and biological factors. Many of the causes are well known—childhood trauma, family history and recreational drug use being among them. It is important to understand that suicide rarely results from one cause. Many factors—which interact with each other in complex ways—contribute to suicidal behavior. As you will see, understanding the causes of suicide can help predict and prevent its occurrence.