Warning signs of suicide
IMTIAZ AHMED |
February 14, 2022 4:27:52 p.m.
Each year, more than 700,000 people kill themselves for various reasons, according to an estimate by the World Health Organization (WHO). There are many more who attempt to end their lives prematurely.
The risk of suicide is particularly high among adolescents, usually between the ages of 15 and 19. Among the causes of death in this age group, suicide ranks fourth.
Although there may be a general perception that suicide is more common in developed countries, the data contradicts this.
The vulnerable age group
77% of suicides occur in middle- and low-income countries. In Bangladesh these days, we probably see many suicide cases in the news, especially after the board exam results when many students take their own lives.
A study by the Center for Injury Prevention and Research Bangladesh (CIPRB, 2003) identified suicide as the leading cause of death among adolescents (aged 10-19).
The study also revealed that women were more vulnerable. The suicide rate was highest among people over the age of 60 and in rural areas.
Nevertheless, suicide is preventable. Friends and family can play an important role in this regard.
Looking for the signs
For this, we must have the ability to realize the warning signs that could indicate a suicide plan. We need to understand the risk factors that might drive someone to commit suicide.
A common risk factor is health-related. It can be poor mental health, for example anxiety, depression, mood disorders, chronic illness with no hope of recovery, serious head trauma or life-threatening illness, etc.
If a person with suicidal tendencies has access to means such as drugs, firearms, this increases the risk.
Ongoing stress from bullying, harassment, unemployment, relationship issues, divorce, romantic rejection, financial crisis, etc. can also contribute. Seeing graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide in the media is also known to increase risk.
Lack of social support, family history
There are also other things that can increase the risk. For example, if the sufferer does not find adequate social support, they may feel isolated and alone.
As suicide is still considered taboo in our society, someone who contemplates it is ashamed to ask others for help.
Important risk factors, according to the data, are previous suicide attempts, family history, childhood abuse or trauma.
These people are at high risk of suicide and need special care.
If someone has risk factors, we need to pay attention to the warning signs. These signs will alert us that the person is planning to do something unfortunate.
According to the American Academy of Suicidology (AAS), warning signs include threats to harm or kill yourself, looking for ways to kill yourself, seeking access to or already have access to means, talking or constantly writing about death, saying things like more meaning to live or more purpose in life, etc.
Discussion, not sensationalism
The WHO has proposed several actions at the population, sub-population and individual level to address suicide and attempted suicide.
Their recommendations include limiting access to the means of suicide, responsible reporting in the media so as not to sensationalize or glorify it, teaching adolescents social-emotional skills, identifying and managing risk factors. risk and an institutionalized system to act on warning signs.
But the challenges in our country are enormous. First, we do not have an adequate social or institutional structure to deal with mental health problems.
These are often not sufficiently disseminated in the media or in social life. Discussions about suicide and mental health issues are not encouraged in a public space, which actually makes matters worse.
We need to start talking about suicide and mental health, raise awareness of the issues, and ask people to come forward and seek help if they feel they don’t want to live anymore.
We need to establish a way that makes it comfortable to do so. There is an emotional support hotline in our country called “Kan Pete Roi” designed to talk to these people, their website is http://shuni.org/ where we can find ways to contact if any help is needed.
Dr. Imtiaz Ahmed completed his MBBS from Dhaka Medical College.