The Relationships Among Clinical Depression, Suicide, and Other Actions That May Hasten Death

Behav Sci Law. 2004;22(5):627-49. doi: 10.1002/bsl.616.


Clinical depression and other psychological disorders have been associated with suicidal ideation, attempts, and deaths. Because of the link between suicide and mental illness, whenever discussion of "assisted suicide" arises, the possibility that major depression is affecting the decision arises. This article examines the literature on clinical depression as it relates to suicide, "assisted suicide," and other decisions that will hasten death (i.e. withholding and withdrawing treatment, terminal sedation, and voluntarily stopping eating and drinking). Ethical and legal considerations when working with individuals who are considering taking an action that would hasten death are also briefly reviewed. The article ends with practice and policy recommendations.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Death
  • Decision Making
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Humans
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide, Assisted / statistics & numerical data*