Quite a ghastly term to discuss.
But as it has become very common, it needs to be addressed.
Basically, suicide is a deliberate act to inflict harm upon oneself to cause death. People use various methods to commit suicide according to their planning, availability of resources, frame of mind etc. When we see or hear about a case of suicide, we usually focus on that event only. But if we try to look back at the person’s life, we can see a history of life stresses, lack of protective factors and other struggles.
Many a times, a person tries to convey their need for help which is missed by their closed ones. We can get warning signs where we can try to avoid such acts. For that we need to be aware of our surroundings, our relatives and friends, and what is going on in their lives.
Various studies have found risk factors for suicide. It has been said that males, middle to old aged, single/divorced/separated/widowed, unemployed/insecurely employed people with a history of mental disorders and facing adverse life events are at risk.
History of mental disorders can be present in the person himself or in their families. Virtually, all mental disorders carry a risk of suicide in their course like depression, eating disorders, schizophrenia, substance (alcohol/cannabis/cocaine/others) use disorders etc. Old age males with long term diseases like cancer are also found to show a high propensity for committing suicide.
Sometimes, it has been seen that people imitate or copy other person who has committed suicide. Incidents of suicide are seen to be increased when a suicide case is highlighted through mass media or other methods. So it has been advised to NOT keep showing the case incessantly on T.V. or glorifying the act.
There are people who repeatedly indulge in acts of harming self without the intent to die. Such cases are frequently ignored assuming them to be attention seeking. But here also, we need to be cautious as it may also be a cry for help. Sometimes the person commits such act just to gain attention without assessing the danger in that. It can also lead to death. One act of attempted suicide where the person has been rescued is a warning that such act can be repeated in the future.
Considering all these facts, it becomes necessary to be vigilant of such things in our surroundings. I want to convey that this is a menace in the general population. The main concern is that it is very frequently ignored and thus can prove fatal. So, if we want to help them, we must understand that it can be prevented through proper recognition and treatment by professionals trained to manage it.
Dr. Ankit Chaudhary
MBBS, MD (Psychiatry)