VJLAP CLE on April 8th: Depression and Suicide – How the Legal Profession is Impacted
Depression and Suicide: How the Legal Profession is Impacted
Thursday, April 8, 2021 from 12:00 – 1:00 pm
This CLE will review the signs and symptoms of depression and suicide, debunk the myths surrounding suicide and suicide prevention, provide skills for approaching a colleague who may be experiencing problems with depression or contemplating suicide, and present tips for de-escalating and managing a situation where you are concerned for yourself, a colleague, or a client.
- Lawyers have an increased rate of depression. According to the American Psychological Association, lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression than the general population. It has also been estimated that 40% of law students suffer from depression by the time they graduate.
- The high stress that comes with practicing law combined with basic personality traits common in lawyers such as self-reliance, perfectionism, and competitiveness are huge contributing factors to the high incidence of depression. These aspects also aren’t very consistent with healthy coping skills, and don’t always allow the “emotional elasticity” needed to endure the unrelenting pressures brought about by the profession. Over time, that may begin to feel like a loss of control. And for someone who has charged themselves with having all the answers, it may be the factor that throws them over the edge into suicide.
- According to the Center for Disease Control, lawyers rank tenth in the rate of suicide in terms of professions, and have six times the suicide rate as the general population. In fact, it is the third leading cause of death among lawyers, after cancer and heart disease. The high rate of depression and substance abuse in the profession contribute greatly to these statistics. The lawyer becomes caught in a spiral of hopelessness and becomes incapable of seeing other viable options.
- It may initially be difficult to identify that what we are experiencing is depression, because we may just feel miserable and unhappy for no specific reason or we may think we don’t like our job (or are having marriage difficulties, etc). It may be difficult to articulate something that we don’t understand ourselves. It may also be difficult to ask for help, but depression will likely only get worse if left untreated. There is hope and there is treatment available.