Suicide is among the top three causes of death among youth across the globe. According to the WHO estimates, nearly a million people die of suicide per annum and 20 times more people attempt suicide. 75% of global suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries*
Suicide is a huge problem in India too. Indian union health ministry estimates that 1.2 lakh people commit suicide every year in India. As per WHO data, the rate of suicides in India is 10.6/100,000.
We often hear about farmer suicide, the triggers for suicide in this vulnerable population include economic adversity, exclusive dependence on rainfall for agriculture, and possibly monetary compensation to the family following suicide. We hope the government offers support to them and address their difficulties.
What about the other population including teenagers, adults and elderly. We would all have heard of suicides at some point either in our relatives/friends or societies. How do we, members of society contribute in prevention of suicide at individual level. Well, we can increase awareness of this problem and advise them to act appropriately.
What is suicide? Suicide is the act of taking one’s own life on purpose. Suicidal behaviors may occur when there is a situation or event that the person finds overwhelming, such as:
- Death of a loved one
- Drug or alcohol use
- Emotional trauma
- Serious/chronic physical illness
- Unemployment or money problems/bankruptcy
Risk factors for suicide in teenagers include:
- Exam stress
- Access to methods (medication, weapons)
- Family member who completed suicide
- History of hurting themselves on purpose
- History of being neglected or abused
- Living in communities where there have been recent incidents of suicide in young people
- Romantic breakup
Suicidal attempts in younger population can also be a cry for help. Whilst teenage and adult suicides are attempted impulsively, elderly suicides are well planned and are done with great determination. Due to our rich cultural values, our elders are often well supported and respected in families, therefore we do not see many elderly suicides in India.
People use different ways of attempting suicide such as poisoning, overdose, hanging, jumping from heights and drowning. Men are more likely to choose violent methods like shooting and use of other weapons.
Mental disorders (particularly depression and alcohol use disorders) , bipolar disorder, psychosis, personality disorders and impulsiveness are major risk factors for suicide. Suicide is complex with psychological, social, biological, cultural and environmental factors involved.
Protective factors can decrease a person’s risk level. Protective factors would include strong interpersonal relationships (family or friends) , good social support, treatment of psychological, emotional and psychiatric problems like depression, psychosis, loneliness, alcohol and drug problems, support with financial issues, counseling for relationship issues and good coping strategies to deal with impulsivity.
Psychiatrists play a very crucial role in detection and prevention of suicide. A person can benefit from a thorough assessment of their mental state, to assess their needs whether they require counseling, support or medication. Risk assessment can be shared with relevant people/family so precautions are put in place to manage your loved one. Always take suicidal attempts and threats seriously.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, immediately contact a psychiatrist. They can help you find a solution for your problems.
Source: * World Health Organization – Suicide Data -http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs398/en/