Suicide is generally defined, as the process terminating one's own life internationally (Maris, Silverman & Canetto, 1997). Suicide attempts on the other hand refer to the intent, self-inflicted, and severe acts that do not cause that are related to committing suicide or causing death. Suicidal behavior refers to any premeditated course of action with consequences that are life threatening, such as substance abuse, use of suicidal equipment or even intentionally causing an accident. Societies view suicide in different ways guided by their religion or/and culture. According to Robbins (1998), the numbers of people committing suicide have risen notably most countries in the world. Some sources rate suicide as the third leading cause of death (Page, 1996). Documented evidence highlights that prevalence of suicide attempts are higher in adolescent stage more than at any other time in the human life cycle (Berman &Jobes, 1991).
Suicide is frequently viewed as a reaction to a single stressful event; but in real sense, it is a complicated matter linking biological, social, environmental, and even psychological causes (Berman & Jobes, 1991). Suicide can be abrupt and unanticipated demise that ravages the survivor’s friends and family members. Suicide emanates from several factors, which include; depression, bipolar disorder, or some other psychiatric disorder. There are three types of suicidal act, which include absolute suicide, attempted suicide, and suicide ideation.
Causes of Suicide
One would ask themselves questions like why would people want to commit suicide? This is a very intricate question to answer. There are many documented theories and ideas describing reasons why people opt to end their lives. However, there is still not an all-inclusive theory describing all the characteristics that are a threat to life. Three categories of suicide theories exist; they include theories related to sociology, theories related to psychological and biological theories. Sociological suicide theories are societal influenced in terms of the level of control a given community or society has on a person inclusive of the social structures and heterogeneity (Kirk, 1993).
Psychological theories are formed based on the functionality of an individual’s mindset, building on issues like emotions, individuality, a person’s stage of development, and the ability to handle conflicts. The family as a unit function is inclined to this line of thought. Biological theories are based on biological issues such as genetic composition, levels of hormones, levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, among other issues (Maris, Morton, and Canetto, 1997).
Reasons/causes that contribute to suicide or suicidal attempts are numerous, complex and multifaceted, with the most common factors being depression, bipolar disorder, alcohol dependency and psychiatric disorder which may lead to anxiety or psychosis traits(Page,1996). Depression could be accelerated by consumption of alcohol and drug abuse thus leading to the likelihood of suicidal undertaking. Other causes that lead to suicide include family history of suicide, marital tribulations, feelings of guilt, unemployment and poverty, feelings of desperation or isolation, unhappy romantic relationships, traumatic childhoo experiences, medical disorders (such as AIDs and Epilepsy, Schizophrenia), emotional trauma, disputes between parents and their teenager children, previous attempts of suicide, death of a close person, among many other issues. More often than not, all these factors will in one way or another lead to stress and depression, which eventually bubbles down to suicide or suicidal attempts.
Risk Factors for Suicide
Risk factors for suicide can be comprehensively evaluated by medical practitioners using several factors such as the level of severity, occurrence, and duration of suicidal ideation of a patient. Questions including family history, signs of mental illnesses, violence and emotional disturbances, and an evaluation of past or present suicidal attempts are usually posed by medical practitioners. Going by gender characteristics in most parts of the world, females are more likely to commit attempted suicide while male undertake absolute suicide, and this happens most within the youths. A general perception is that nonexistence of mental infirmity and drug abuse, as well as the existence of a strong social network support structure, reduces the possibility of committing suicide (Nelson and Galas, 1994).
There are many risk factors (for instance according to professional SAD Persons Scale) to watch out for suicide, which include: depression, old age-people aged above 65 years, male gender, painful illnesses which could possibly lead to disability, loneliness, loss of a loved one, lost rationality in thinking, history of past attempted suicide acts, and even a well stipulated suicide mission.
It has been noted that antidepressants contribute towards the risk of suicide, especially just before starting treatment; some still have a slight increase of suicidal feelings and characteristics. So it is advised to closely monitor patients or people going through anti-depressants treatment.
An individual would directly or indirectly exhibit signs of committing suicide. Symptoms of an individual planning to terminate their lives would include writing of a will, sorting out their affairs including their place of work, making sudden visits to relatives, making threats verbally (threats like I’m going to kill myself). Buying instrument that are likely to be utilized for committing suicide, abrupt changes in behavior, giving away things that they hold dear to them, sudden aggressiveness and rebelliousness, withdrawal from friends, excessive sadness or moodiness and writing letters or suicide notes. These symptoms should be given a lot of attention by the people surrounding a victim and should be examined further (Page, 1996).
Suicides and suicide attempts are an emotional shocker to the close people and loved ones of the victims, especially friends, relatives, and even strangers. However, if suicide attempts are not taken seriously, it may lead to death. About a third of suicidal attempters are likely to have a repeat of the act within one year, and approximately ten percent of suicide threats or attempts eventually occur (Popenhagen and Qualley, 1998).
Emergency measures such as seeking help from administrative authorities, for instance the police, should be undertaken. As one awaiits emergency help, the patient should be given all the support and panicking should be avoided. According to a professional doctor’s diagnosis, a patient might be confined in a hospital for further physical, emotional, and psychological treatment.
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One must be informed about how to handle a victim who is more likely to commit suicide especially in terms of knowing the right questions to ask in case of a suspected suicide, the pros and cons of relating with such a person and who and where to seek help. Suicide suspects need people to talk to whom they can entrust and believe in to talk to them openly and with honesty about their problems.
In addition, it is important to inquire from the victim the reason behind him/her wanting to terminate own life, without being judgmental. However, there are some questions that need be solicited directly, for instance, inquiring whether they are contemplating to commit suicide, how, when, where they are planning then act (Robbins, 1998). This will enable the helper to learn more and assess the victim more keenly before contemplating where to get help. It might also make the victim relaxed and even back off from the plan, since they will know someone cares for him/her.
It is important for anyone assisting in a suicidal crisis to remember to maintain calmness, remain affirmative and not to lose hope. A person should also identify well with the limits they are supposed to go since you can only go too far. Avoid making promises to the suicidal victim that you will not disclose his/her plans to commit suicide, instead one should ask the victim to ask for help form the people he/ she trusts, or from professionals. In addition, try as much not to leave the victim alone, especially in a tempting environment. Alcohol, sedatives, narcotics, illegal drugs that have not been prescribed by a doctor should be avoided (Robbins, 1998).
Emergency measures such should be undertaken when a person attempts to commit suicide. These may include mouth-to-mouth revival, CPR, among other issues. Hospitalizing a suicide victim is also an appropriate measure in order to avoid future occurrences. Mental health treatment and arbitration is one of the most important treatments to be administered (Popenhagen and Qualley, 1998).
Besides dealing with suicidal behavior, a victim should be treated of any causal disorders for instance, depression, or even substance abuse. It’s likely that adolescents may fail to seek for suicidal help because they believe not much help will be coming their way, they also are reluctant to disclose their private lives, they feel it’s an indication of weakness, and others lack knowledge/ information of places where to seek help(Popenhagen, and Qualley,1998).
Most theories if not all have been described in isolation, giving independent evidence of suicidal behaviors. There should however be an integrated system focusing on sociological, biological and psychological issues of suicidal behavior, so that he victims can receive the best-informed treatment. Even though, this should be an effort undertaken by all the people from all cultures, all circles of life, from all countries in the world, bearing in mind that the rate of suicidal deaths is on the increase. Let us all join hands and fight this vice form our society.