Why Do People Die by Suicide?
Suicide is a complex issue involving numerous factors and should not be attributed to any one single cause. Not all people who die by suicide have been diagnosed with a mental illness and not all people with a mental illness attempt to end their lives by suicide.
People who experience suicidal thoughts and feelings are suffering with tremendous emotional pain. People who have died by suicide typically had overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, despair, and helplessness. Suicide is not about a moral weakness or a character flaw. People considering suicide feel as though their pain will never end and that suicide is the only way to stop the suffering.
Many factors and circumstances can contribute to someone’s decision to end their life. Factors such as loss, addictions, childhood trauma or other forms of trauma, depression, serious physical illness, and major life changes can make some people feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. It is important to remember that it isn’t necessarily the nature of the loss or stressor that is as important as the individual’s experience of these things feeling unbearable.
Suicide is Complex.
Suicide is the result of actions taken to deal with intolerable mental anguish and pain, fear or despair that overwhelms an individual’s value for living and hope in life.
While there is a well established link between suicide and depression, each suicide occurs in a unique mix of complex interconnected factors, individual, environmental, biological, psychological, social, cultural, historical, political and spiritual, including psychological trauma (both developmental and intergenerational).
How Can Suicide Be Prevented?
The majority of suicides can be prevented. There are a number of measures that can be taken at community and national levels to reduce the risk, including:
- reducing access to the means of suicide:
pesticides, medication, guns, others;
- treating people with mental disorders:
depression, alcoholism, or schizophrenia, others;
- following-up with those who have attempted suicide;
- observe responsible media reporting principles;
- providing training to health care workers and advocates;
- contributing to mental health promotion.
At a more personal level, it is important to know that only a small number of suicides happen without warning. Most people who die by suicide give definite warnings of their intentions. Therefore, all threats of self-harm should be taken seriously. In addition, a majority of people who attempt suicide are ambivalent and not entirely intent on dying. Many suicides occur in a period of improvement when the person has the energy and the will to turn despairing thoughts into destructive action. However, a once-suicidal person is not necessarily always at risk: suicidal thoughts may return but they are not permanent and in some people they may never return.
PUBLISHED BY: Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention