When someone commits suicide the question we ask is “Why?” Suicide is something people find hard to make sense of and what we need to remember is that a person’s reasoning is strongly emotional in nature and may not seem logical. In the world of trauma care there is a saying “Your trauma is your trauma.” Whatever the reason may be for a person to contemplate or attempt suicide, they feel it strongly and it is real to them. Invalidating someone’s feelings or reasoning around “The Why” is not the way to help; being present and listening is. First let’s understand a few facts.
Around 800,000 people die by suicide every year. Furthermore, for each suicide, there are more than 20 suicide attempts. Suicides and suicide attempts have a lasting impact on family members, friends, coworkers, and the community. Suicides are preventable, and much can be done to prevent suicide at the individual, community, and national levels.
Suicide is a serious public health issue but is preventable with timely, evidence-based, and often low-cost interventions. Resources for knowing how to help your family or your community are free and on-line at Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
What we know is that mental disorders and/or neuro-chemical imbalance underlie suicidality. Thought disorder, anxiety and depression, medication mismanagement, and substance use disorders are among the major culprits for this . Many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis, with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life, stressors, financial hardships, relationship problems, or chronic pain and illness. Some common triggers for suicide include any significant trauma event, relationship or social group conflict, family and/or community disaster, violence, abuse, loss, and social isolation.
Suicide rates are also the highest within vulnerable groups who experience discrimination, such as the LGBTQ+ community, migrants and refugees, and prisoners. The strongest indicator of risk for suicide is a previous suicide attempt.
Risk factors can also include:
- Mental disorders; particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety, and personality disorders
- Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
- History of trauma or abuse
- Major physical or chronic illness
- Family history of suicide
- Recent job or financial loss
- The recent loss of a relationship
- Easy access to lethal means
- Local clusters of suicide
- Lack of social support and sense of isolation
- The stigma associated with asking for help
- Lack of health care, especially mental health and substance use treatment
- Cultural and religious beliefs
- Exposure to others who have died by suicide, whether it is through the internet or personal life
Suicide is preventable. There are things we can do to better help those in our community who are struggling. There are measures we can take. Some of these include:
- De-stigmatization and awareness of mental health conditions
- Early identification and detection: treatment and care of people with mental and substance use disorders, chronic pain, and acute emotional distress
- Media reporting suicides in a responsible way
- School-based intervention or mitigation
- Introducing alcohol policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol and other substances
- Training of community health workers in the assessment and management of suicidal behavior
- Follow-up care and provision of community support for people who have attempted suicide
- Increased exposure to show there is support for those who are suffering
- Training for occupations and schools to enable more individuals to intervene properly and be aware of signs to watch out for
The “mental health stigma” is sadly a thing that still exists today. People who consider death by suicide don’t think they have support or don’t think anybody cares. People today still believe that getting help is seen as weak or dumb.
People who believe this add to the already existing stigma by labeling those who suffer from mental illness as “crazy” or “psychotic.” Because of this, those who are truly struggling are often too afraid to get help because of what they believe people might think or say about them.
This lack of awareness of suicide as a major public health problem — along with the taboo in many societies to openly discuss it — has ultimately resulted in the inability to adequately address suicide prevention. To date, only a small amount of countries have included suicide prevention among their health priorities, and only 38 countries report having a national suicide prevention strategy.
Raising community awareness and breaking down the taboo is important for countries to make progress in preventing suicide.
Signs to be aware of if you think you or someone you love is thinking about suicide include:
- Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself
- Looking for a way to kill oneself
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
- Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the usage of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
- Irregular sleep pattern
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated
- Displaying extreme mood swings
- Excessive alcohol and/or drug use
We have a responsibility to look out for each other. If you or someone you love is battling with suicidality or suicidal ideation, please make sure to ask for help and reach out. There are suicide prevention hotlines where you can remain anonymous, as well as other forums to get treatment. LifeTutors takes suicide very seriously and can help you find hope again. We work with young adults as young as 17, and get our clients connected to a positive community. If you are struggling with socialization or finding your way in a new environment, we can coach and guide you back to a well life. If you or a loved one is struggling with thoughts of suicide, it is imperative you call a professional and seek help immediately. LifeTutors can help point you in the right direction to get back on track.
Call us at 1-(828)-417-7122.