Suicide is when a person chooses to kill themselves. When someone kills themselves, people say that they have "committed suicide" "completed suicide" or "died by suicide." When a person thinks about killing themselves, the person is described as suicidal.
When people start having thoughts about killing themselves, it is a medical emergency. They should get a suicide risk assessment as soon as possible. They should not be left alone.
There are many reasons why a person might think about committing suicide. Most people who are suicidal have some type of mental condition or illness. They may have a chronic condition, which means it has been going on for a long time. But it may be an acute condition –, which means the first symptoms of mental illness happened rather quickly.
Depression is the mental illness that most often causes a person to have suicidal thoughts. Depression may also be a symptom of other mental or medical disorders.
Depression, which can lead to suicidal thoughts, has many possible causes. For example, it may also be caused by stress, and difficult events in a person's life, like losing a job or getting sick. Other causes of suicidal thoughts are bullying and inceldom.
Suicide is one of the top three causes of death for young people aged 15–35 years-old. It is the second most common and the second leading cause of death for college students. Every 3 seconds, a person somewhere in the world tries to kill themselves. Every 40 seconds, someone dies by suicide. For every suicide, at least six other people are seriously affected.(WHO 2000)
Although depression is the main factor in suicide, it is also treatable and suicide is often preventable.
Risk factors Edit
There are many risk factors for suicide. However, it is important to remember that risk factors are not the same as causes. Risk factors do not cause suicide or suicidal thoughts. They only make it more likely that some people with those risk factors may become suicidal. If a person has a risk factor, that does not mean they are going to become suicidal.
Mental disorders Edit
Most people who commit suicide have a mental disorder. Different studies found different rates, between 85%-95%. Depressive disorders account for about 80 percent of these numbers; schizophrenia, ten percent; and dementia and delirium about five percent.
Among people who have a mental disorder, 25% also have alcohol abuse issues. People who abuse alcohol have a 50% greater risk of suicide compared to those who do not.
While acts of self-harm are not considered suicide attempts, a person who self-harms may be more likely to commit suicide.
- Hopelessness: Feeling like there is no chance that things will get better. Hopelessness is very common in people who commit suicide.
- Perceived burdensomeness: When a person feels like they are a burden to others (like they just cause problems for other people). Suicidal people often feel hopeless at the same time.
- Loneliness: Feeling alone. Sometimes people actually are alone; sometimes they just feel lonely. People are more likely to feel suicidal if:
- They do not have people to support them, such as family and friends
- They feel like they do not belong or fit in with other people
- They live alone
Substance abuse Edit
Substance abuse is the second most common reason for suicide and feeling suicidal. Only two serious mental illnesses - depression and bipolar disorder - cause more harm. A person is at greater risk for suicide whether they have been using drugs for a long time or just a short time. When a drug abuser is also sufffering from great sadness or grief, suicide is even more common.
More than half of suicides are at least partly due to alcohol or drug use. About one-fourth of suicides are committed by those sick with drug addiction or alcoholism. In teenagers and youth, the percent is even higher.
Problem gambling Edit
Problem gamblers have more suicidal ideation and make more suicide attempts compared to the general population. (Problem gambling is gambling that causes major problems in a person's life.)
If a person becomes a problem gambler earlier in life, they have a higher risk of suicide for the rest of their life. Gambling-related suicide attempts are usually made by older people with gambling problems. Substance use and mental disorders increase the risk of suicide even more in people with problem gambling.
Medical conditions Edit
There is a link between suicidality and medical conditions, including chronic pain, mild brain injury, (MBI) or traumatic brain injury (TBI). People with these conditions had a higher rate of suicide that was not caused by depression or alcohol abuse. People with more than one medical condition had an even higher risk of suicide.
Problems with sleeping, such as insomnia and sleep apnea, may be risk factors for depression and suicide. In some people, the sleep problem itself, not depression, may be what increases their risk for depression.
People being treated for mood disorders should be checked by a doctor. This should include a physical examination and blood tests. This can make sure the person's mood disorder is not caused by a medical problem. Many medical conditions can cause problems with mood and thinking. Seeing a doctor will also help make sure that it is safe to prescribe medications for the person's mood disorder.
Some mental disorders that are risk factors for suicide may be partly caused by problems in the brain and body.
- Serotonin is an important brain neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger). Some studies have found that people who tried to kill themselves had low levels of serotonin in their brains. People who completed suicide had the lowest levels. Low serotonin levels are a risk factor for suicide, even if a person has never had depression.
- Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF): This is a protein that helps nerves grow. Problems with how BDNF works may help cause several mood disorders linked with suicidal behavior, including major depressive disorder. Studies of suicide victims have shown very low levels of BDNF in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, even in people who had no mental illness.
Even if they have the same risk factors, some people are at a higher risk for suicide than others. This is partly because of genetic inheritance. Genetics causes about 30–50% of the difference in suicide risk among different people. For example, a person whose parent committed suicide is much more likely to try to kill themselves. Epigenetics may also affect suicide risk.
Media coverage Edit
How the media shows news stories of suicide may have a negative effect and trigger the possibility of copycat suicides (this is called the Werther effect). This risk is greater in teenagers and young adults.
The opposite of the Werther effect is the Papageno effect. This means that the media can help make suicide less likely if they cover good ways of dealing with stress and difficult things in life.
A person is also more likely to complete suicide if:
- They have an item they can use to kill themselves
- Someone in their family has committed suicide
- They have had a head injury
- They do not have a job
- They are poor or homeless
- They have to deal with discrimination
- They were physically or sexually abused as a child
- They spent time in foster care
- They are under stress from something, for example a school assignment or work.
Worldwide suicide rates have increased by 60% in the past 45 years, mainly in the developing countries. As of 2006:
- Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the world
- About a million people died of suicide every year (this means that 16 out of every 100,000 people in the world died from suicide every year)
- A person completed suicide every 40 seconds
According to 2007 information, suicides happen twice as often as homicides in the United States. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the country, ahead of liver disease and Parkinson's disease.
Suicide rates vary a great deal across the world. Lithuania has the highest suicide rate.
30% of deaths by suicide are by people who are intoxicated.
The most common ways of committing suicide are not the same in every country. In different areas, they include hanging, pesticide poisoning, and firearms.
A 2008 report compared 56 countries, using information from the World Health Organization. It found that:
- Hanging was the most common method in most of the countries. 53% of men who committed suicide, and 39% of women, used hanging.
- Worldwide, 30% of people who commit suicide use pesticides. This method was most common in the Pacific area, where over half of people who committed suicide used pesticides. It was least common in Europe, where only 4% used this method.
- In the United States 52% of suicides involve the use of firearms.
- In the United States, asphyxiation and poisoning are also common. About 40% of suicides in the United States were committed using one of these methods.
Other people in the world commit suicide by:
- Blunt force trauma (for example, from jumping off a building)
- Cutting themselves and bleeding to death
- Drowning themselves
- Setting themselves on fire
- Electrocuting themselves
- Starving themselves
Sometimes, suicidal people do something that will make another person kill them. For example, a suicidal person might point a gun at a police officer, so the police officer will shoot the person in self-defense. This is commonly called "suicide by cop."
Views of suicide Edit
Modern medicine treats suicide as a mental health issue. When a person starts having many thoughts about killing themselves, it is considered a medical emergency.
The Abrahamic religions (like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) think that life is sacred. They believe that when a person kills themselves, they are murdering what God has made. For this reason, many followers of Abrahamic religions thinks that when a person commits suicide, they will go to Hell.
The Dharmic and Taoist religions (like Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Shinto) believe that someone who commits suicide will be reincarnated in the next life with a less enlightened soul. However, many people of these religions are more likely to commit suicide because they believe that there will be a next life. They think that by committing suicide, they may have a better chance in the next life.
Suicide as a weapon Edit
There are several famous examples of suicide attacks in history. The Kamikazes were one example. They were Japanese fighter pilots during World War II, who would try to kill American soldiers by crashing their planes into American ships. By crashing their planes, they would kill themselves as well.
The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States were also done by suicide attackers. They flew planes into the World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon.