Suicide: Causes, Risk Factors and Prevention

Why do we need to prevent suicide? Because it is never a free choice of a person!

Causes:

In contrary to general notion that suicide is most common among teenagers and adolescents, according to statistical reports, family problems and illnesses were the major causes of suicides in India. Majority of people who commit suicide are daily wage workers, housewife’s and self employed.

Root Causes:

Inability to see or assign a purpose to life
Low self esteem and feeling of worthlessness
Loneliness

Risk Factors

Certain perceptions contribute to suicidal tendency:

“Society has rigid structure and cannot be changed”
“It is impossible to find a solution to my problem”
“I am burden to others”

Certain Traits and Emotions are closely linked to suicidal tendency:

Impulsivity
Hopelessness
Inferiority
Risk taking
Lack of motivation / interest in anything
Sleeplessness / Disrupted sleep patterns
Irritability / frustration / anger / mood swings
Increased drug / alcohol use.

Certain Behaviors are closely linked to suicidal tendency:

Making plans to suicide
Giving away whatever he / she had
Isolating self from social life

Certain EXPERIENCES are closely linked to suicidal tendency:

Suffering for so long from chronic mental illness like depression or physical illness or unbearable pain
Loss of someone who is very close
Loss of something that is very much valuable

Being part of TRAUMATIC SITUATIONS contributes to suicidal tendency:

War
Violence
Abuse
Discrimination
Assault

Prevention

Look for signs and risk factors

If you have come across someone who is suicidal according to you, check if their past experiences, behaviors, traits, emotions and perceptions match with the above mentioned list of qualities or not. In case if at least few are matching, proceed to next step.

Talk about suicide

There is a notion among people that talking about suicide provokes suicide and that is absolutely FALSE. Talking about suicide makes the person who has suicidal tendency rethink.

Listen and understand

The person who has suicidal tendency is capable enough to deal with his or her own problems. Do not look at her/him like a vulnerable person and offer quick solutions. Listen to what they are saying and allow them to find solutions on their own.

Talk about strengths

Do not ask the person who has suicidal tendency to be positive about everything. If you do that, you are unknowingly invalidating his/her pain. Instead, if you figure out what are his/her strengths based on his description about problem, try to highlight them. For eg: If someone with suicidal tendency says “My wife died with COVID-19. I am more worried about my daughter. I don’t know if she can cope with this.” In this example, trauma is death and strength is his empathy. Highlight strength and say “I understand how painful it is for you to handle situation. But it seems like you are very empathetic towards your daughter”.

Do not force or blame

If someone chooses suicide, its not their free choice. Do not blame or criticize them. Do not force them to do something they doesn’t like just because they felt suicidal. I.e., do not try to take their life into your control by assuming that they are not capable of handling their life.

Make a contract

Ask them to promise that they will not try to commit suicide. If they doesn’t agree, request them to at least postpone the decision and make them promise that they wont try to suicide at least for few days.

Keep them away from methods of self harm

Allow someone with suicidal tendencies to discuss about how they want to die without blaming. After listening to their plans, remove all the things that can help them in committing suicide from their room.

Call suicide prevention helpline

Whatever you do, i.e., taking promise, removing tools, etc., that is temporary fix. Call suicide prevention helpline as soon as possible after. Accompany the person till the time professional helper reaches him/her. If you think you cannot accompany, make someone from his/her family or a friend accompany the person who has suicidal tendency.

Refer to Psychologist / Clinical Psychologist / Psychiatrist

After seeking help from suicide prevention helpline, and after person with suicidal tendency becomes little stable, then help the person with suicidal tendency in approaching mental health professional to deal with his core conflicts.

For detailed explanation, watch

2 thoughts on “Suicide: Causes, Risk Factors and Prevention

    1. We have started #askpsychologist project, i.e., making videos to answer questions asked by viewers. We willtalk about this in a video and post everywhere (Youtube, Instagram and Facebook).

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