People with ADHD Are at High Risk for Suicide
I want to talk about suicide and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) because September is Suicide Prevention Month. Though ADHD has a reputation in our society for being either a punchline or an excuse, it is important to note that people with the condition have a 30% higher risk for attempting suicide or dying by suicide.1 There are a number of reasons for this, including high comorbidity (when multiple conditions exist in the same person) with other disorders, such as depression or anxiety. Read more to find out what contributes to this high suicide rate in people with ADHD and what we can do to help prevent it.
Why People with ADHD Have Higher Suicide Rates
Those with ADHD who are most likely to die by suicide also suffer from other conditions, like borderline personality disorder or bipolar disorder. As I mentioned, ADHD often occurs with other mental conditions that can make life difficult. However, one study showed that even ADHDers who didn’t have another diagnosis were a higher suicide risk than the general population.2 Here are a few other reasons why people with ADHD might be depressed and even suicidal:
- Strong emotions: those with ADHD have a hard time regulating their sometimes powerful emotions. They can be both physically and emotionally sensitive, cycling through a wide range of feelings depending on the circumstances. They might also suffer from rejection-sensitive dysphoria, which makes perceived rejection acutely painful and embarrassing. Rejection is a part of life, so it is something that they are bound to encounter many times.
- Lower dopamine: people with ADHD tend to have a hard time processing pleasureful neurotransmitters such as dopamine, which is why they often look for something new to boost their interest and excitement. This can lead to addictions in a search to feel happy or even normal. It can also result in general feelings of restlessness and dissatisfaction in relationships, careers, and life in general.
- Impulsivity: impulsiveness associated with ADHD also makes someone at risk for suicide because an impulsive person is more likely to act on his suicidal thoughts. In addition, impulsivity and impatience can lead to the frustration that results in those suicidal thoughts. Impatience makes one want to fix everything immediately. When that doesn’t happen, hopelessness can ensue.
- Isolation: all of these issues, as well as social awkwardness that is sometimes connected to ADHD, might result in feeling alone and deficient. Their perceived failures in life due to their impulsiveness, emotionality, and problems performing routine, daily tasks can make ADHDers feel that they will never get better and that there is something fundamentally wrong with them.
Video with Advice for Depressed ADHDers
In the video below, I give some tips to people with ADHD who struggle with depression and suicidal ideation.3
Thank you for reading and watching. Please leave comments about how you have handled suicidal thinking if you have ADHD. However, if you are acutely suicidal, seek help right away.
If you feel you may hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately.
If you need help with distressing thoughts (including suicidal thoughts), call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
For more information on suicide, please see our suicide resources here.
- Faraone, Stephen, “ADHD and Suicide.” ADHD in Adults, March 2016.
- Dickerson, Kelly, “People with ADHD May Have a Higher Suicide Risk.” Live Science, June 2014.
- Balazs, Judit, and Agnes Kereszteny, “Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and suicide: A systematic review.” World Journal of Psychiatry, March 2017.
Matteson, N. (2018, September 30). People with ADHD Are at High Risk for Suicide, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, March 25 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/livingwithadultadhd/2018/9/people-with-adhd-are-at-high-risk-for-suicide
Author: Noelle Matteson
Hooked on a Feeling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrI-UBIB8Jk
Listening to this as ehopric as ever and semi happy.'
Tho i feel like i wanna kill my self when the song ends :(
I’ve struggled with trying to convince myself not to end it all my entire life. Living with adult adhd is especially brutal because many people think oh you’re an adult you should know and do better. That coupled with the already existing notion that adhd is some small made up thing. I wonder what the point of being here is if this is going to be my life with this impairment
Trust me, I get it. I was in the car not three months ago and took a one in three risk with two round in a six shot .38. I say it almost everyday, I hate myself. I can't control where my mind wanders and I envy those who can have a though and drop it without hesitation. Why do I have to know where every door leads? God, I hate myself. Anyways I say all that because I relate, somehow today, I sit here at 4:21 am trying to turn my brain off. I have my wife and daughter to think about. I'm not always able to get my mind back to what's important though and that is how I think we keep ending up with a gun in our mouth hoping to end the suffering. Up until recently when I started researching ADHD, I really believed my teachers when they said I was using it as an excuse. I've even started talking to my wife about it. This condition defines me. I think we can learn to control it. It is believed that Leonardo DeVenchi and Albert Einstein among may other great geniuses, inventors and innovators we're on the ADHD spectrum. We both know we are far from stupid. We can be so interested in something that we are up at 4:37 am still typing this reply. I hope you seek help, find a good doctor, please switch doctors if the one you have hasn't helped. You are the next Albert Einstein and our planet can't afford to lose you. As for me, I'm sure I will end up feeling suicidal again and at this moment, I hope I chose to seek help, because I now have a mission in life, I must learn to take control of my brain and I must share the knowledge that I can obtain with my hyper focused mind. I will figure my brain out and I think you can too. Hang in there.
Yes l want to go l have a 10 year old and he has adhd l have it l am 42 no help out there l just want to go
Lmao when you have too much ADHD to read the whole article.
lol i went straight to the comments.i also do have adhd.same when looking at a youtube video
That didn't really tell me anything , do you have any studies or statistics to back your claims up.
Personally the way people are addicted to the internet these days , people can have themselves diagnosed with anything , if someone with ADHD looks online for sure there head will become a scrambled mess, they read constant negative feedback from blogs like this that don't back up anything , don't you think people will believe they could be more susceptible to something by reading some bias , plant the seed in the right circumstances , you can mess with anyone's head.
So if you have any statistically relevent proof please can you provide it
Hello! Yes, studies are provided at the end of the article under "Sources." I reference them throughout using footnote markers in the forms of numbers. Thank you!
How is this helpful it’s basically states your fucked your life is fuck and that’s why so many other ADHDer kill themselves
Hi, Peta, thanks for commenting. The video embedded in the article includes several tips about how to take care of yourself if you are feeling depressed and suicidal, particularly if you have ADHD. If you feel suicidal, please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Please visit this link for further resources: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/suicide/suicide-suicidal-thoughts-and-behaviors-t….
Thank you for sharing this very important read. As you mentioned, ADHD often gets put in this "light" category, a punchline or excuse. All of the reasons you listed are incredibly important for people to be mindful of. There's nothing light about 30% higher risk.
Even though I know many with ADHD suffer from depression, I was surprised at that statistic and how the rate appeared to be high across the board. Thank you so much for reading!