Suicide doesn’t end the chances of life getting worse, it eliminates the possibility of it ever getting any better. – Unknown
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-34-year olds and the 10th leading cause of death worldwide. Though not a mental disorder in itself, suicide can be a result of a number of mental disorders such as Depression, Anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Substance Use Disorders. It is one of those causes of death that are directly related to psychological factors and hence requires more understanding and work on its prediction and prevention. In fact, it is a widely researched area and a major health concern globally.
The word Suicide comes from the Latin word Suicidium which means ‘to kill oneself.’ It can be defined as taking one’s life intentionally and voluntarily. According to Wikipedia, suicide is taking one’s life intentionally. On the other hand, a suicide attempt is a suicidal act that does not cause death and only self-injury. Those with a suicide attempt are at a higher risk of future suicide attempts.
There are approximately 800,000 people worldwide who die by suicide. These rates are highest in Eastern Europe, South-east Asia and in some regions of Africa. There are also marked age and gender differences in suicidal behaviour.
Suicide rate by country:
As per the data published by WHO, read suicide rate by country
1 in 100,000 children in the age group of 10 to 14 die by suicide each year.
7 in 100,000 adolescents in the age group of 15 to 19 die by suicide each year.
12.7 in 100,000 young adults in the age group of 20 to 24 die by suicide each year.
Males are around four times more likely to commit suicide than females.
Females are more likely to have suicidal thoughts.
Females are also around four times more likely to attempt suicide than men.
Males are most likely to use firearms to commit suicide.
Females, on the other hand, are most likely to use poisoning to commit suicide.
Such statistics is just the tip of the iceberg and the actual severity and magnitude of the prevalence of suicide is reflected by a wide range of suicidal behaviour - Planning, Thinking and Attempting.
Risk Factors for Suicide:
Suicidal behaviour is a result of a number of complex interacting factors and the actual cause is not fully understood. However, there are some major risk factors that play a significant role in suicidal behaviour. These are:
1. Mental Disorders:
Mental health disorders highly increase the risk of suicide with 90% of individuals who commit suicide are suffering from some form of mental disorder. Some of the mental health disorders associated with suicide are major depressive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, and eating disorders. However, individuals with major depression and bipolar disorder are 20 times more at risk of committing suicide.
2. Substance Abuse:
Substance abuse is the second-highest risk factor for suicidal behaviour after mental disorders such as major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. Up to 61% of the people who commit suicide are under the influence of alcohol at the time of death. Cocaine and heroin have also been found to be risk factors in suicide.
Family history of suicide increases the risk of suicide in other family members as well, increasing the risk of suicide by 55%. Having witnessed a family member committing suicide also increases the risk of suicidal behaviour. Additionally, a family history of substance abuse and mental disorders is also a major risk factor for suicide.
4. Socio-Economic Factors:
Socio-economic factors and other family problems can also increase the risk of suicide. Factors such as homelessness, unemployment, poverty and loss of a loved one can also increase the risk of suicide. In fact, child sexual abuse is one major social-psychological factor that can increase the risk of suicide by 20%.
The risk factors for suicide are complex, however identifying the underlying factor can help in reducing the risk manifolds. Treatment can reduce the risk of suicide. In this regard, a common prevention and treatment strategy is psychotherapy. Some of the effective psychotherapies are:
1. Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT):
CBT is a common treatment for many mental health disorders especially depression. Depression being one of the major risk factors in suicide can be managed or treated through CBT. CBT focuses on addressing the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviour of a person. Thus, suicidal thoughts can be alleviated by redirecting and replacing such thoughts with more comfortable thoughts. Thus, consulting a psychologist, counsellor or a mental health professional can help in preventing suicidal thoughts and behaviours.
Medications can also be used as a prevention technique for suicide. These medicines can be targeting a specific mental disorder and should be prescribed only by a medical expert. However, such medication can have their own side effects. One of these side effects being suicidal thoughts and behaviour itself, especially with antidepressants.
3. Suicide Awareness & Prevention:
There is a need for an increased awareness among general population as well as professionals about understanding suicide and its prevention. There are some early warning signs which should not be missed and individuals at risk must be attended with utmost care. Extensive psycho-educational programmes especially targeting suicidal behaviour and its prevention must be run across schools, colleges and other relevant places.
1. There are approximately 800,000 people worldwide who die by suicide.
2. Major risk factors for suicide are:
- Mental Disorders
- Substance Abuse
- Socio-Economic Factors
3. Suicide Prevention and Treatment:
- Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Suicide Awareness & Prevention
If you know anyone at suicidal risk or have frequent suicidal thoughts or behaviour, do not leave them alone, remove all items around them that can be potentially dangerous such as weapons, pills, etc. Please assist them in getting help from Medical and Mental Health professional as soon.
If you are suicidal and need help, immediately call the emergency health services in your area or the toll-free suicide prevention helplines in your country.
*Suicide Crisis Helpline for India: AASRA: 91-9820466726
*Suicide Crisis Helplines by Country: List