According to the World Health Organization (WHO), roughly 800,00 people commit suicide, yearly, with much higher estimates of attempted suicides. Although suicide can occur at any age, suicide is the second highest cause of mortality among people 15 to 29 years old (WHO, 2017). Similarly, suicide is mostly prevalent in low and middle income countries, with estimates as high as 78% (WHO, 2017).
In the US, suicide is a significant public health concern. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP, 2016), over 44,000 people committed suicide in 2015, making it the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. More alarming, suicide is the “third leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 14, and the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 15 and 34 (National Institute of Mental Health, n.s.).”
Though death is a natural occurrence in life, suicide, in itself, is a disruption in the life cycle. Moreover, the complexity of understanding why anyone would want to commit suicide leaves many with a void. Although there are many factors that increase the likelihood of suicide, here are three of the most prevalent reasons people commit suicide:
1. Major depression (MD). MD has long been the most known reason why people have committed suicide. MD affects both the physical and psychological well-being of people, from causing painful body aches to impairing the ability to see cognitive solutions. Because of the distortion in cognition, people who commit suicide believe that the world would be better off without them.
2. Loss of control. Having control of one’s own thoughts and behaviors is what gives people individuality. Impulsivity, however, leads to lack of control, resulting in both maladaptive behaviors (e.g., substance abuse) and thoughts (g. pedophilia). Fear and anxiety stem from impulsivity. As such, suicide is sometimes perceived as the only act that they can control, in hopes of ceasing their maladaptive behaviors and thoughts.
3. Overwhelming regrets. Most societies have a belief that making mistakes (e.g., arrest, infidelity) is a sign of failure. Similarly, some people internalize their mistakes to a point beyond forgiveness. For example, military veterans who may have killed a civilian during time of war may suffer from overwhelming guilt when they return to the states. In turn, they may feel that only reprimand that would bring justice to the act that they committed is suicide. Overwhelming regrets, in sum, go beyond forgiveness. Rather, suicide is viewed as the only method to bring balance to themselves or to the world.
Numerous literature has argued that suicide is a senseless act. However, one’s cognition has the ability to make sense of the most senseless things. This is especially true for people who suffer from major depression or impulsivity. Further, suicide is far more than an act of killing one’s self. Prior to the act, there is process of negative thoughts that manifest in both physical and mental pain. For individuals who suffer from guilt, the act of suicide is viewed as cathartic.
Understanding that suicide makes sense to the person who is suicidal may be a good approach to getting them the help that they need. One of the signs of suicide is withdrawal. Reasons for withdrawal can be linked to one feeling shame for thinking about suicide or one not feeling like their thoughts are being heard and acknowledged. Perhaps if the “symptoms” of suicide are received without stigma or shame, then maybe dialogues can be established with the hope of connecting the suicidal person to the proper treatment.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Leading Causes of Death. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/leading_causes_death.html
National Institute of Mental Health (n.s.). Suicide. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide/index.shtml
World Health Organization (2017). Suicide. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs398/en/