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Published: Tuesday 29th of October 2013
Suicide is a touchy subject and for good reason, the intention to cause one’s death is almost always something negative, unexpected and unwanted. A suicide can be brought about by certain risk factors, such as being addicted to drugs and wanting to be free from it or, on the other hand, self-destruction can be rather more impulsive act due to various stresses and anxieties. Unfortunately, people that have attempted suicide before are at higher risk, and even more hotlines and external help are often ineffective.
Methods of suicide can vary depending on a person’s location and their circumstance, yet the most common methods have been related to poisoning, hanging and firearm deaths. Suicide results in over 800,000 deaths a year which puts it in the top ten for worldwide causes of death. If you live in the developing world, you are much more likely to commit suicide and also if you’re male, the rates are higher, often because men are expected to act tough and not talk about their problems whereas women are more open about their feelings. Other demographics put people between 15 and 30 as well as those over 70 as people that have the highest risk of suicide. Unfortunately, often suicide attempts can leave those that survive with a much worse state of health, for instance, liver failure from poisoning or physical impairments from firearm attempted suicides.
Views on suicide have changed somewhat over time, for instance, in the UK it used to be a criminal offense and rather ironically punishable by death. Often countries that have been very religious have also deemed it illegal or inappropriate, frequently because most major religions view this act as cowardly, inappropriate and against the sanctity of life. Recently the debate on suicide has changed a lot to include views on assisted suicide, which is legal in some countries around the world, such as Switzerland, for terminally ill people and those that are suffering. Philosophers, such as Peter Singer, have advocated the right to die on the premise that suicide can be ethically justified in some cases, e.g. where the person’s quality of life is so low, unlikely to get any better and the one is experiencing grave suffering. Professor Singer and many others that share his views have said that a person ought to have the right to die, and not to have to make horrible journeys to places where they can legally end their lives. People should be able to die with dignity.
There are many reasons as to why people would want to commit suicide, and numerous of these are intensified by risk factors. Common risk factors include drug abuse, psychological ill health, culture, social surroundings, family situations, genetic makeup, and addictions. If you’ve tried to attempt suicide before, you’ll also be at a greater risk of doing it again and if you have greater means to do it (e.g. you have medications or firearms readily available), you’ll be at a higher risk too. On top of all, socioeconomic factors such as not having a job, being lonely or living in poverty will also help exacerbate suicide risk or will help trigger unwanted suicidal thoughts.
It is common for suicidal people to have mental disorders at the time of their suicide, with over half of the people who commit suicide having some form of a mood disorder, such as depressive disorders, bipolar disorder, OCD, PTSD or schizophrenia. In around 80% of suicide cases, the person who committed suicide has seen a doctor within the year of their death, and have had been to some sort of health service. Often drugs such as antidepressants or mood stabilizers can have a positive impact on suicidal people, causing them to feel a lot better, let go of their suicidal thoughts and forge their suicidal actions. There is a small amount of data available on screening for suicide because this practice is generally rare, although screening people who come to hospitals because of self-harm can usually lead to preventing suicide rates if they’re contacted early enough to receive help.
So what brings someone to commit the horrible act? To be honest, it’s often difficult to tell, but what is easy to tell is that people need more help and more of a place to voice their feelings. It is only by talking about one’s problems they can be able to let them go off. Statistically speaking, suicidal thoughts are all too common, so many people actually consider what they would like to do, but many people don’t follow through with a plan. If you are able to discuss how you feel, especially, when you’re at your lowest, you can feel more in control and more able to consider making better choices. Because the problem is so prevalent in society, people should look out for one another and help anyone that they can see is behaving out of character. It is easier said than done, but fostering a culture of caring for one another in society is a thing we should all aspire to do – this should extend on way beyond our friends and family, and to our place of work, classmates or anyone else you come in contact with. Suicidal thoughts are all too widespread, but let’s keep suicides rare.