Currently, measures to reduce the risks of suicide are more required in public health systems across the world. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), every 40 seconds a person commit suicide. This is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 aged people. Although suicide is preventable, people at risk of killing themselves rarely seek help. Nevertheless, there are behaviours that identify them as vulnerable. The following list presents 5 factors that commonly lead to suicide.
Isolation and lack of social support
Not being part of a group or having a person to count on strengthen the sensation of isolation – that occurs when a person feels disconnected of closest people, such as family members, friends and partners. Discrimination, specially that related to LGBT, refugees and imprisoned groups, lead to continuous painful experiences such as loss of freedom, rejection and stigmatization, what may strengthen isolation and contribute to evoke suicidal behaviour. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), the ability to share our emotions and negative life events with someone close compound with feeling of despair and hopelessness can increase the risk of suicidal behaviour. It’s essential to each person having a sense of purpose, security and connectedness, what can be constructed from close, enduring relationships and social ties in communities.
History of trauma or abuses
Hard experiences as torture, physical violence, sexual or emotional abuse and family neglect are commonly associated with emotional stress that can increase risk of mental disorders and suicide. This is risk is stronger if the trauma happened on childhood. This was the conclusion of a study produced on Universidade Católica de Pelotas, in Brazil, that found a higher risk of suicide in individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In a group of 917 adults evaluated, 63% of the 55 diagnosed with PTSD had suicide risk prevalence. The difficulty to get in touch with painful emotions caused by traumas and to share this feelings with other people reduce possibilities of recovering emotional equilibrium and the control of life.
Unemployment, extreme difficulty to be admitted on labor market and low income to provide a family are elements that powerfully impact mental health. One study produced by University of Oulu, in Finland, concluded that the more negatively people view their economic prospects, the higher the likelihood of suicide. The researchers found that every economic/financial crisis since 1970 (except the European Exchange Rate Mechanism crisis in 1992) raised the rate of suicides in 21 developed countries. Despite this increase was seen in both sexes, it was stronger among men (35%) than among female (23%). According to the study, since 1970, economic crisis caused 60 000 excess suicides across developed countries like Australia, Norway, USA and Greece. This context is also seen in poor countries – which concentrated 80% of suicides in the world in 2016, according to World Health Organisation.
The increase of suicidal behaviors may also occur when we lose a meaningful relationship, caused by separation, divorce or death. Losing meaningful relationships that give us identity and security produce sadness, psychological stress and the sensation of being deprived of comfort, care and physical contact. A study produced by University of California, in USA, found that for every divorced woman that committed suicide in USA, over nine divorced men killed themselves. Researchers suggest this happens because when a men divorce, he loses not only the marriage but also daily contact with his children, what reduces self-esteem. Other studies also indicate that the risk of suicide increases for adults that lost a sibling or experienced parental death in childhood, irrespective of cause of the death.
Diagnosis of a serious medical condition
Another situation that weaken emotional health is the diagnosis of a serious medical condition, such as HIV, cancer and heart disease. One study from National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service, in London, found that adults with cancer have 20% increased risk of suicide compared with general population. This risk is higher in the first six months after the diagnosis. The risk of suicide is specially seen among women, according to a research of University of Manchester, in England. Major physical diseases may increase suicide risk because of pain and discomfort related to their treatment or due to loss of functioning. Some people may use suicide can as an attempt to have some control about the dying process and not feel like a passive victim of an incurable medical condition.
Suicide is one of the most worrying health problems in the world today. Be attentive to the people around us, their behaviours and emotions – is an essential step towards mental health and suicide prevention. To help people with suicidal behaviours, compassion and patience are fundamental factors.