Genetic predisposition to depression
Most mental illnesses are familial in nature, i.e. they affect several members of a family. This is also true of suicides and suicidal thoughts, as they are symptoms of such a mental illness. A person has a higher risk of suicide if a close relative has already committed suicide or is plagued by suicidal thoughts.
There are various explanations for this family clustering. On the one hand, special genes are known which can make a person more susceptible to mental illness, for example by disrupting the metabolism of messenger substances in the brain and thus influencing emotional processing, among other things. On the other hand, the environment of these families also plays a major role.
If a person suffers from depression because of financial worries, for example, it is likely that close relatives share this difficult situation. In addition, the suicide of a relative is a terrible traumatisation, which has an additional disease-enhancing effect. Relatives therefore have a higher genetic and environmental risk of developing a mental illness with suicidal thoughts than a person from a family without suicides.
What to do if you suspect that a person intends to commit suicide?
Threats of suicide should never be taken lightly. Unfortunately, there is no recipe for dealing with suicidal people and most people do not know what to do in such a situation. But regardless of whether the person is close to you or you feel confident about intervening, getting professional help is always the most important step.
After all, nobody has the power to stop someone from committing suicide if they really want to kill themselves. Only psychiatric therapy is a lasting help. As a relative, you can therefore only be there for the person, listen to him or her and make an effort to help them, but you should strongly advise them to see a doctor.
You can also offer to accompany the person to the psychiatrist and not to leave them alone with the therapy. If the person concerned does not want to accept professional help, he or she has lost the freedom of choice from the moment he or she endangers himself or others. So if there is an acute danger of suicide, one should not try to dissuade the person from committing suicide first, but immediately inform the emergency doctor or the police. Because only the emergency service and the police have the authority and the means to protect a person from himself or herself.