World Suicide Prevention Day


World Suicide Prevention Day is marked on 10 September which aims to promote worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides. According to WHO (World Health Organization), on average, almost 3000 people commit suicide daily. For every person who completes a suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end their lives.

Suicide is an act of killing oneself intentionally causing his or her own death out of feeling hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness. Suicide is considered to be the last option to overcome the pain, the risk often increases in lack of social-support and self-esteem.

The leading causes of suicides are:

  • excessive despair (failure, frustration, unrealistic thinking, overwhelming incidents)
  • underlying mental disorders which include depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc.  (psychological disorders involving maladjustment and neuro-chemical imbalances)
  • alcoholism and drug abuse (in attempt to cope with other issues)
  • Financial difficulties (see the case of Japan)
  • interpersonal relationships (failure in love and relationships, divorce, death of partner)
  • other undesirable situations (social embarrassment)
  • mind control/intense indoctrination (suicide bombing/mass suicide – see case of Peoples Temple in 1978 {918 people committed suicide at the order of its leader}

Many people leave suicide notes or other evidences so that other people are not wrongly convicted for their death. The first suicide note is thought to have been written by an Egyptian four thousand years ago. In his poems, he describes the pain of his existence and the attractions of death.

A college student committed suicide by taking a drug overdose in front of a live Web cam while some users egged him on. Recently, I came across a news which said a youth committed suicide after updating his status in facebook.

The common ways of committing suicide are:

Some facts on Suicide:

  • The word “suicide” comes from two Latin roots, sui (“of oneself”) and cidium (“killing” or “slaying”).
  • People have committed suicide in an endless variety of ways, including swallowing poisonous spiders, power-drilling holes in their heads, sticking hot pokers down their throats, choking on underwear, injecting peanut butter into their veins, crushing their necks in vices, and hurling themselves into vats of beer.
  • In China, someone takes his or her own life on average every two minutes. China accounts for nearly a quarter of the global total of suicides with between 250,000 and 300,000 suicides a year.
  • While there is a common perception that suicide rates are highest among the young, the elderly, in fact, have the highest suicide rates.
  • Some studies suggest a correlation between a sport team’s performance and fans’ suicide rates.
  • Sylvia Plath’s (1932-1963) novel The Bell Jar, about a gifted young woman’s mental breakdown, mirrors Plath’s own breakdown and is considered to be one of the best-told tales of a woman’s descent into insanity. It was published only weeks before Plath killed herself.
  • Over the last decade, the suicide rate among young children has increased dramatically. In 2002, suicide was the sixth leading cause of death of five- to 14-year olds and the third leading cause of death in preteens. Suicidologists are alarmed that children as young as age two are also increasingly attempting suicide.
  • Five to 10% of suicides take place in mental hospitals.
  • There is some evidence that suicide attempts during the first week of the menstrual cycle may be associated with low levels of estrogen.
  • A number of suicidologists have criticized news coverage of suicides, citing that reading about suicide victims in the news often triggers copycat or “contagion” suicides.
  • Levels of a brain transmitter called serotonin is considered a possible predictor of suicide. Some researchers found that people with low levels of serotonin are six to 10 more times likely to commit suicide than are people with normal levels.
  • Suicide rates tend to reflect poor socioeconomic conditions.
  • Experts believe that early exposure to child abuse may disrupt the proper development of communication pathways within the brain and, consequently, abuse victims are more likely than their peers to commit suicide.
  • Children of parents who commit suicide are a higher risk to committee suicide later in life.
  • Divorced people are three times as likely to commit suicide as people who are married. Moreover, children of divorce are at a higher risk for committing suicide when they grow up. Divorced and separated men are two and a half times more likely to commit suicide than married men. Divorce, however, doesn’t seem to lead more women to commit suicide.
  • The first scientific study of suicide was Le Suicide written by French sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858-1917).
  • Although women attempt suicide about three times more often than men, men complete suicide about three times more often than women.
  • Four out of five people who commit suicide have attempted to kill themselves at least once previously.

Read also, MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT SUICIDE: SuicideMythsnFacts2010 (pdf document)

Suicide prevention

Suicide prevention is an umbrella term for the collective efforts of local citizen organizations, mental health practitioners and related professionals to reduce the incidence of suicide through prevention and proactive measures.

The people prone to suicidal risks need help and assistance to save their lives. Most of them are reluctant to ask for help due to overwhelming feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. There are certain signs that the vulnerable people show like talking about death, showing symptoms of depression, giving away valuable possessions and so on.

Prevention & Intervention

Legislation: In some jurisdictions, an act or incomplete act of suicide is considered to be a crime. More commonly, a surviving party member who assisted in the suicide attempt will face criminal charges. Punishment deters people who from taking actions which is punishable by law.

Religious views: In many religions, suicide is generally frowned upon and is considered equally sinful.  Religious people are less vulnerable to committing suicide.

Social Support: Social support counts a lot. People who receive some sort of social support and assume social responsibility are less vulnerable to committing suicide.

Professional Support: Hotline services and psychological counseling are effective means of preventing suicides.

Role of Media: The role of media is also important in sensitizing people against committing suicide and providing information on how to seek support. The media should be equally sensitive to kind of stories they highlight. Negative stories send depressive waves.

Focusing on strengths: The rise of Positive Psychology emphasizes focusing our mind upon strengths and capabilities rather than our weakness and shortcomings. The recent research practices have taken a significant shift-away from asking ‘what is wrong?’ to ‘what is right and how could it better?’. Psychologists have asked for so long what makes people depressed?, now they are asking ‘what makes happy people happier?’. Similarly, in case of suicide instead of asking ‘what makes people commit suicide?’, we could ask ‘what makes people resilient in crisis?’ The answers to this question could be helpful in teaching vulnerable or in-risk people how to develop coping strategies and develop resilience.

In Nepal:

In 2066, Nepal’s Department of Health Services released shocking findings in its report, “Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Study, 2008/2009” which stated that Nepalese women are committing suicide at an alarming rate. Suicide is now the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age (15-49), accounting for almost 16 percent of deaths in that age group. In the past 10 years there has been a significant change in the health and wellbeing of Nepalese women. Suicide has overtaken maternal mortality as the leading cause of death for young women. According to a similar study in 1998, suicide then ranked as the third single cause of death.

The finding that suicide has emerged as the leading cause of death in Women of Reproductive Age (WRA) has shocked researchers and policy makers although some women activists have commented that the findings are not surprising, given that cases of suicide mostly remain underreported in Nepali society.

In Nepal, there is a lack of proper suicide intervention and psychosocial support mechanisms which aggravate the risk of suicide among the people in risk. The hotline and counseling services can be effective means of helping the vulnerable people. At the same time, there is also need of research to find out more about the incidence and prevalence rates of suicide so that we could access the reality and design proper interventions.

References & Related Links:

The Final Exit: https://sujenman.wordpress.com/2010/02/04/the-final-exit/ (previous post related to suicide)

WHO website http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/annual/world_suicide_prevention_day/en/index.html

International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) http://www.iasp.info/

Psychology Network Mailing List Message: http://groups.google.com/group/psychology-network/browse_thread/thread/d5009e2bc195da5e#

Self- Destruct : http://www.nepalitimes.com.np/issue/2010/02/12/Nation/16792

Nawaraj Raj Subba Article: http://bit.ly/dA8BFn (includes data from Ilam which is famous for high suicide incidence in Nepal)

99 Little Known Facts About . . .Suicide http://facts.randomhistory.com/2009/07/15_suicide.html

As I was reading blogs and articles to write this post, I came across a striking statement in a blog which said: “Why Kill yourself? Life will do that.” I felt it incomplete so, I would like to add: “Before that, enjoy living this life!! Pleasure is important for us but let’s go beyond that and Let’s live our lives in a purposeful and meaningful way which will make us satisfied.”

6 thoughts on “World Suicide Prevention Day

  1. the thing about suicidal people is they want the people around them to care that they are there coucelrs pshyc theripsts all that is a way for them to kill themselves another way ive been down that road my closest friends saved me when noone else would

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