What Is Behind Suicidal Thoughts?


According to the World Health Organization (WHO) suicide awareness site, more than 800,000 people die by suicide each year, making it the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds. There are indications that, for every adult who committed suicide, possibly more than 20 others attempted suicide.

Suicide occurs in high-income countries and is a global phenomenon affecting all regions of the world. In fact, in 2016, more than 79% of suicides worldwide took place in low- and middle-income countries.

Suicides are preventable; they must be effective, and to be it requires a comprehensive plurisectoral prevention strategy is needed.

Suicide is among the 20 leading causes of death at all ages worldwide. It is a complex problem involving psychological, social, biological, cultural, and environmental factors. Currently, according to rates, young people are the most at-risk group in one-third of countries.

Suicide awareness implies talking about a person who could eventually be at risk of suicide implies taking into consideration some of the following aspects:

  • Suicidal ideation implies thinking about attempting against one’s integrity; it also considers the feeling of being exhausted, tired of one’s own life, beliefs of hopelessness, not having the will to live, generalized demotivation, desires of not wanting to wake up from sleep. It corresponds to the choice to want to take one’s own life.
  • Suicide planning; refers to when a person begins to have the previous point’s thoughts with greater force, so he/she begins to devise a plan or a method. It involves creating how to carry out the project, what to use, and where.
  • Suicide attempt; an action that attempts against one’s physical integrity.

There is a term called “Suicidability,” which corresponds to the continuous process from the ideation to the suicide attempt. On the other hand, there is “consummated suicide,” a term used when the person deliberately ends his life.

The risk factors that may influence the development of some of these behaviors are associated with multiple causes, which may be sociodemographic, biopsychosocial, environmental (economic, suicide pacts, availability and easy access to lethal tools, lack of family support, isolation, lack of psychological support, cultural beliefs or imitation effect).

While the link between mental disorders and suicide (particularly diseases related to depression and alcohol use) is well documented in high-income countries, many suicides occur impulsively at times of crisis that undermine the ability to cope with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship breakdowns, or chronic pain and illness.

Besides, experiences related to conflict, disasters, violence, abuse, loss, and feelings of isolation are closely linked to suicidal behaviors. Vulnerable groups subject to discrimination also presents high suicide rates. By far, the leading risk factor for suicide is a previous suicide attempt.

The objective of all this is to be alert, to take appropriate and timely measures according to the level of risk that a person may present, to contribute to elucidate and guide in what situation a member of your community is probably in, and with that, to opt for responsible and timely action. Even so, since the estimation of the level of risk requires a specific evaluation with the person and probably his/her closest environment, it is the responsibility of a specialist in the clinical area, so independent of the level of risk (mild, moderate, severe or extreme) and from then on, to receive and determine the most suitable response of the establishment.

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