Over one million people worldwide die by suicide each year and the World Health Organisation estimate that it is the 13th leading cause of death, possibly higher in western societies. It is currently the leading cause of death among teenagers and adults less than 35 and is therefore a major cause for concern. The rate of suicide is higher in men than in women, with men 3-4 times more likely than females.
Why do people commit suicide?
Suicide is often committed as an act of despair. Whilst the reasons are very varied, there are a number of risk factors that predispose an individual to an increased suicide risk.
Around 90% of people who commit suicide have been shown to have an underlying mental disorder. These disorders consist largely of mood disorders, substance abuse, schizophrenia and personality disorders. Major depression and alcoholism appear to predispose individuals to the highest suicide risk.
In the other 10%, a number of risk factors correlate with suicide risk. These include: drug addiction, family history of suicide and socio-economic factors such as unemployment, poverty, homelessness and discrimination.
Hopelessness and feelings of no prospect for improvement have been shown to be strong indicators of suicide. Furthermore, a feeling of loneliness, being a burden and lack of social support are often strong predictors of suicidal ideas.
What to do if you feel suicidal.
If you are reading this because you feel suicidal then it is extremely important that you seek help urgently. Many people who have felt suicidal at some point say that the negative feelings can cloud your vision completely, making suicide seem the only viable option. However, with the right treatment and support have been able to ride through these negative feelings and go on to lead a long and fulfilling life.
If you feel suicidal, you can:
- Call the Samaritans support service on 08457 90 90 90
- Go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department and tell the staff how you are feeling
- Contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647
- Speak to a friend, family member or someone you trust
- Make an urgent appointment to see your GP
Worried about somebody who is suicidal?
Certain signs may indicate that a person is at high risk of suicide, such as:
- Threats of hurting or killing themselves
- Actively looking for ways of killing themselves (such as stockpiling tablets or purchasing equipment).
- Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide.
If you are worried that somebody you know may be considering suicide then it is recommended them to talk to somebody on the above list. They will be able to talk to experts, to tell them how they are feeling and to get advice in a non-judgmental way. If they have been diagnosed with a mental health problem then you should advise them to contact a member of their care team for health and advise.