DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows
Take One Step: A PBS Health Campaign
DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows + TAKE ONE STEP: Caring for Depression, with Jane Pauley  

Ask an Expert: Suicide
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Read Dr. Charles Nemeroff's bio >

Learn more about suicide:

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:
American Association of Suicidology:
The Jed Foundation:


What role does resilience play in understanding and preventing suicide?

DR. CHARLES NEMEROFF: The entire notion of resilience and what is it about certain people that protects them from depression is an entirely new burgeoning area of research. Give you an example. African-American women have the lowest rate of suicide of any group in The United States. We did a study here in Atlanta. (We found that) very few African-American women committed suicide in Atlanta in the last decade. You can count this on the fingers of your hand.

And surely, they've been exposed to trauma. They've been exposed to poverty. They've been exposed to a number of adverse life experiences. Yet, for reasons we don't really quite yet understand, their suicide rates are infinitesimally low. So the question is, why? And is it a genetic factor? So are they essentially constitutionally unable to commit suicide because they're protected by some kind of genetic resilience factor? Do they have a double dose of the hope gene, for example? Do they never give up? Is it because they're so invested in their families that they know that they have to be there? So is it a psychosocial phenomenon? Is it a biological one? I don't know. But clearly, research on resilience is absolutely important.

More Topics

Causes of Depression | Depression in Youth | Depression in Elders | Depression in the World | Depression Treatment

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