Note: I have personal experience with this, since I have seen it in my family. I ask you to be respectful and courteous in your comments.
Clinical Depression is alarmingly prevalent and increasingly common throughout the world. It is especially a menacing and severe problem in developed/rich economies. It is a severe and debilitating disorder which completely cripples the life of the individual, as well as leaving close family members and friends in a state of distress as well.
Just to indicate how serious the problem is, it must be noted that as per a C.D.C. survey conducted in 2002-2004 in the United States , suicides outnumber homicides by a multiplicative factor of 2! Which means there are twice the number of suicides as homicides! And as age increases, so does the risk of depression and subsequent suicide.
As per the suicide statistics provided by the United Nations (as of 2003) , we can clearly see how prevalent and widespread this problem is throughout the world, affecting all countries with alarming variance – we cannot definitively say that rich countries are more affected or vice versa. But one thing is for certain, death by homicide is far less a menace as compared to death by suicide  & .
One of the reasons for this is the stigma associated with Depression and Suicide. Many public figures and celebrities openly rally to the cause of A.I.D.S. and Cancer. But none comes in support of Depression or Schizophrenia. It is the elephant in the room that everybody wants to conveniently ignore. One very common misconception is that Depression is purely psychological – which is absolutely untrue. Scientific investigation has shown that Depression can be caused by a myriad combination of circumstances – improper diet, tobacco/marijuana consumption, excessive alcohol consumption, improper lifestyle choices, etc can trigger Depressive episodes . What is also important is to acknowledge publicly that the neuro-chemistry of the brain (especially the work of neuro-transmitters in the chemical synapses – Serotonin, Dopamine & Norepinephrine being the three critical neuro-transmitters responsible for information flow and mood regulation) has a major impact on the mood of the individual and his state of mental well-being . Genetics and hereditary factors also have been found to play a role . Peer pressure, office politics, a bitter divorce, academic frustration – any of this can trigger a Depressive episode and if not contained, it can escalate to a fatal and tragic decision.
There needs to be greater public awareness on the subject as well as greater public sensitivity when it comes to helping people suffering from Depression or Schizophrenia. We need to eliminate the stigma and make it comfortable for such distressed people to come out openly and speak about their experiences. And we need to acknowledge that Depression is not merely psychological, but also biological in nature. Only then can we hope to contain this social malaise and become a healthier, happier society.