Suicide is a phenomenon that we, as global citizens, ought to take responsibility to prevent. At present, globally approximately one million precious lives are lost every year by suicide. It is important to recognise that suicide is not a disease or illness itself, it is an unfortunate and irreversible manifestation arising out of several factors such as stressful life events or social circumstances. Triggers for this can come in a variety of different forms including finances, relationships, occupations etc. and can also come from a variety of mental illnesses such as Depression, Bipolar Affective Disorder, Addiction disorders, Eating Disorders, etc.
Looking into the prevention of suicide, we need to look at the following things, both on their own and in combination with each other:
- Enabling and empowering people to recognise early signs of uncomfortable emotions
- Giving access to people to talk / ventilate their difficult feelings in particular hopelessness in a confidential yet supportive environment
- Installation of hope without being patronising
- Giving information of potential solutions or alternative approaches in life - whether it is finance, occupation, interpersonal relationships etc.
- Early access to effective treatment of mental illnesses in the most appropriate setting i.e community vs inpatient setting
- Access to crisis service - again it could be in relation to mental illness, social crisis, financial crisis etc.
- Increasing awareness that suicide is preventable
Some statistics about suicide in the UK from the Office of National Statistics:
- In 2017 there were 5,821 suicides registered in the UK, an age-standardised rate of 10.1 deaths per 100,000 population.
- The UK male suicide rate of 15.5 deaths per 100,000 was the lowest since our time-series began in 1981; for females, the UK rate was 4.9 deaths per 100,000, this remains consistent with the rates seen in the last 10 years.
- Males accounted for three-quarters of suicides registered in 2017 (4,382 deaths), which has been the case since the mid-1990s.
- The highest age-specific suicide rate was 24.8 deaths per 100,000 among males aged 45 to 49 years; for females, the age group with the highest rate was 50 to 54 years, at 6.8 deaths per 100,000.
- Scotland had the highest suicide rate in Great Britain with 13.9 deaths per 100,000 persons, and England the lowest with 9.2 deaths per 100,000.
Overall there has been a decrease in suicide rates in the UK which possibly suggests an increased awareness, more access to help and creating safer environments when it comes to specific interventions to prevent suicide. We are still a long way off as our aim should be 0 percent.
As a society, both professionals and non-professionals can contribute to lowering these statistics in our own ways - at the end of the day we are all human. Contributing toward this can be in many forms, whether it means being there for crisis periods, giving others the right information to access help, increasing resources to provide effective and safe treatments, and other social interventions.
Suicide is not a crime, it is often the tip of the iceberg - lets start addressing the issues hidden in the iceberg - aiming towards society with 0 percent suicide!