Signs & Symptoms of Suicidal Depression: Lessons from “A Million Little Things”

Blog-Signs & Symptoms of Suicidal Depression Lessons from “A Million Little Things”

Depression is often difficult to see until the affected person seeks help.

When it comes to ABC’s hit show “A Million Little Things,” a friend commits suicide and leaves a wake of confusion behind. The show has brought attention to the nature of suicidal depression.

Those who are affected by suicidal depression sometimes present a pattern of not revealing their illness. Each day, they contemplate the moment of suicide as a deliberate and well-thought act. While the event shocks friends and family, the idea has been present all along. The help for depression could have come much sooner, and this is the premise of “A Million Little Things” depression.

The show unravels reasons why the character, Jon, committed suicide and the plans he put in place for after his death.

How Does Friendship Influence Depression?

“Friendship isn’t a big thing. It’s a million little things.”

While it appears that Jon had everything he wanted in life, many cracks start to show with “A Million Little Things” depression. Flashing back to the time before his death, it’s apparent Jon had hidden traumas and a deteriorated sense of community, two factors for building stress resilience.

Just as depression isn’t one thing, friendship is not one thing. The relationships formed are complicated and not easily understood as leading to Jon’s depression and suicide, but all characters seem to be in a crisis with attempts to hide it from one another.

Adult friendships often have boundaries from discussing what’s happening underneath. That is why it’s important to find someone to talk to through depression. “A Million Little Things” displays how friends who once connected over a deep moment of understanding can drift apart and no longer share what is most important in life.

Jon is connected to many happy memories with his friends, but the question still remains: Why would he commit suicide?

Why Did Jon Kill Himself in “A Million Little Things”?

In the season finale, new insight was revealed as to why the character committed suicide.

17 years earlier, in 2001, Jon was going to a real estate conference in L.A. for work. He asked his roommate, Dave, to join him on the trip so they could hang out and make it a good time. In the airport on the way to his terminal Jon stopped at concessions, which caused him to be late and the gate was closed for his flight. Dave had boarded the plane already, so Jon called him, let him know he couldn’t make it, and planned to catch the next flight out.

As it turns out, the flight was hijacked and involved in one of the crashes of 9/11. Jon watched the news footage in the airport. He kept in touch with Dave’s girlfriend after the event, as she was pregnant, and it was revealed that the day he committed suicide he had sent her a video apologizing and expressing his deep grief even 17 years later.

Grief and trauma are deeply damaging emotions which leave a lasting impact on brain health when not managed in a healthy way. The symptoms of grief and trauma are often diagnosed as PTSD. It is highly important to be evaluated by a professional for this disorder, as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may also cause the same symptoms as PTSD.

This is why Amen Clinics specializes in brain SPECT imaging for mapping blood flow in the brain and identifying functional abnormalities. While Jon from “A Million Little Things” is a fictional character, had he undergone our evaluation process at Amen Clinics, he would receive a full evaluation to rule out a TBI.

Symptoms of Suicidal Depression

The responsibility to get better always lies on the person needing to get better, but when it comes to depression, friends and family are essential to seeing the signs and pushing the loved one to seek help.

Recognizing depression is the first step. Amen Clinics has identified seven total types of anxiety and depression while the following are symptoms of “pure depression”:

● Persistent sad or negative mood
● Loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities
● Restlessness, irritability or excessive crying
● Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness or pessimism
● Sleeping too much or too little, or early morning awakening
● Decreased appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
● Decreased energy, fatigue or feeling “slowed down”
● Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
● Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
● Persistent physical symptoms that don’t respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive problems or chronic pain
● Chronic low self-esteem
● Persistent feeling of being dissatisfied or bored
● Increased automatic negative thoughts

Friends might notice a sudden calmness influence the depressed loved one, which may indicate a decision to end his or her life. This may be followed by personality changes, such as partaking in reckless behavior or not taking care of one’s hygiene. They may also feel the need to get their life in order for others to inherit their belongings, such as making sudden business decisions.

If the loved one has gone through a recent traumatic event, they may be overwhelmed with stress and have run out of ways to cope. Everyone has what is referred to as “brain reserve,” which is your brain’s extra function and tissue left to deal with harmful life events. When we run out of brain reserve, we begin to experience mental decline.

Those affected by the symptoms of depression must be pushed towards a diagnosis in order to get the help they deserve. Depression comes in many forms and treatment varies, requiring expert care.

Treatment for Suicidal Depression

At Amen Clinics, we are dedicated to offering attentive support with proven treatments for patients suffering from suicidal depression.

Depression is not diagnosed as one thing and has many causes. Treatment must be carefully given to address the root cause of the problem. Our approach is not “one size fits all” as we conduct a complete health assessment of each patient’s biological, psychological, social and spiritual influences.

Unlike most psychiatrists who treat depression, we conduct neuropsychological tests and perform brain SPECT scans to identify any abnormalities in the brain before diagnosis. We also order lab tests to rule out deficiencies, hormone imbalances and toxic exposure.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Make an appointment by calling 888-288-9834 today or schedule a visit online. Review the Amen Clinics locations to find the nearest clinic to your home.

We have eight locations across the country in cities including Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles. We also have locations in Orange County, CA, in Walnut Creek, CA, and in Bellevue, WA.

For more on Dr. Amen’s approach on depression and anxiety, watch the video below with an intimate chat between Dr. Amen and his wife, Tana Amen.


  1. I’ve been suffering for almost FORTY years with MA/CFS, severe depression, severe anxiety, BipolR, PTSD, among other things. I have suffered my entire adult life. I’ve seen tons of doctors, taken tons of meds, tried tons of diets, had ECTs, TMS, Ketamine infusions, etc. NOTHING HAS EVER HELPed much except for anti-anxiety meds. I’m pretty sure I have ADD. I have Mild Congitive Impairment. TBI (several concussions and unconsciousness. Probably forgetting stuff.

    Comment by Kimberly Allen — November 10, 2018 @ 9:26 AM

  2. Can you tell me if you accept insurance? I am looking for help for my son who has suicidal depression & substance abuse. Thank you.

    Comment by Angela L. Carney — November 12, 2018 @ 6:42 AM

  3. That’s nice and all but you don’t accept insurance and expect people to pay out of pocket. It’s only for the rich.

    Comment by Anne morrison — November 12, 2018 @ 9:37 AM

  4. Could not access the last section with the photo of the vet and hope re suicidal depression. My sister-in-law is in that state-long story- trying to encourage my brother to go to one of your clinics.

    Comment by Lynn Vandenberg — November 12, 2018 @ 10:02 AM

  5. Some people will self harm and threaten suicide, make mild attempts but are not attention seeking. They can go on to succeeding in suicide.

    Comment by Amanda Stokell — November 12, 2018 @ 12:39 PM

  6. You really should talk more about the physical side of depression and it’s root to gut health. I was suicidal for years because doctors couldn’t figure out I had intestinal impermability and food was causing depression . Sugar gluten additives to food . I’m lucky I survived. When we stop looking at the brain as seperate from our body we all win

    Comment by Susan — November 12, 2018 @ 7:25 PM

  7. I didn’t see the show as focusing on suicide as much as on how life is…..and that some of us just give in to the ‘need’ to end it all as life can be so overwhelming so often……..

    Comment by Ellen-Sue Diamant — December 21, 2018 @ 8:12 AM

  8. I also appreciate the show because it delves below the everyday surface of life in dealing with real emotions- emotions/perceptions that aren’t necessarily as they appear.

    Comment by Ellen-Sue Diamant — December 21, 2018 @ 8:13 AM

  9. If someone you are close too and love committed suicide, can you have ptsd from it?

    Comment by PJ — December 25, 2018 @ 4:32 PM

  10. Please tell me your location in Chicago, Illinois.
    I have family there and it may be the best location for me.

    Comment by Sue Pate — January 14, 2019 @ 9:23 PM

  11. Hello Sue, thank you for reaching out. Our location in IL is in Bannockburn, IL:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — January 15, 2019 @ 8:57 AM

  12. I love to hear Dr Amen speak because he always has such a calming affect on me

    Comment by Adelia Hitt — February 20, 2019 @ 6:25 AM

  13. I’ve been down a similar path for as yours for 40 yrs where nothing has helped and live in daily mental and now physical agony. I also have severe OCD. I don’t know if you know of any help on the OCD that I also have been working on various therapies for 40 yrs that don’t work but I’m curious what anti-anxiety med you use that works. I thought I tried them all but maybe not. I am racked with shaking anxiety all day long, everyday with the only relief is staying in bed. Thank you!

    Comment by Mark — February 20, 2019 @ 2:34 PM

  14. I see the questions here but no responses. I struggled with suicidal depression and anxiety daily to where I am now having panic attacks. I’ve been diagnosed with dysthymia, PTSD and chronic depression. I have insurance. Could you help?

    Comment by Sylvia Kropilak — March 4, 2019 @ 6:00 AM

  15. I am frightened …. I have every symptom you describe as suicidal depression.

    My history is below…..

    In January’2019, I thought I was losing some memory and had a treatment with neurofeedback in which an electrical device is put on the head for a short time., supposedly to bring oxygen into the brain. After that treatment, I went down hill almost immediately, The severe depression returned and I now have a constant neuro-muscular pain on the right side of my head and my right eye. I BELIEVE THERE IS A CORRELATION BETWEEN THE NEURO–FEEDBACK electrical stimulation and MY DEPRESSION…..and I can’t find a doctor who can help me. I had a Pet scan done and the diagnosis was toxic encephalopathy from mercury poisoning which the report says can cause depression.

    I also had a SPECT scan.

    I have not found a doctor, a neurologist nor opthalmologist who can properly diagnosis what happened to my brain from the neuro-feedback stimulation. I believe that it was due to the fact that 20 years ago I was diagnosed with ocular myasthenia gravis from the mercury poisoning, which had caused double vision and head pain. Since that treatment I have been suffering with severe depression and pain in my head and eye. I feel paralyzed. I cannot get any medical help with the pain in my head and eye and the suicidal depression is constant . I NEED HELP TO UNDERSTAND WHAT HAPPENED TO MY BRAIN AND CORRECT THE CONDITION,

    History of mercury poisoning and autoimmune disease.
    I have a history of depression going back 30 years. I discovered that it had been caused by chronic and acute exposure to mercury from a mouthful of silver amalgam dental fillings, which are 50% mercury. Before I knew about the mercury, I was given an MAO inhibitor, which lifted the depression.

    I was acutely poisoned by mercury in 1998 during a dental treatment, I was suddenly struck with double vision and drooping eyelids and diagnosed with ocular Myasthenia Gravis, a neuromuscular autoimmune disease. After having my fillings safely removed and working with an alternative physician l slowly recovered from the depression and most of the symptoms of ocular myasthenia.


    Comment by Freya Koss — April 6, 2019 @ 7:09 AM

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