Over 700,000 people globally die by suicide every year. Suicide is the 4th leading cause of death among young people. For each death, many others have tried. The majority of deaths by suicide happen in low to middle-income countries. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen in Ireland. Suicide is a public health issue everywhere, especially among men. In Ireland, 437 people died by suicide in 2018. Analysing the gender breakdown in 2018, 75% were men compared to 25% of women.
There are many reasons why it is still taboo to discuss this subject in society. Apart from being painful to family and friends and the community, the stereotype associated with a person that takes their own life generally leads to them being perceived as a loser, who couldn’t achieve any goals in life. All the stigma and judgement only do us a disservice. It keeps people from seeking help and suffering in silence.
According to Dr. Ana Beatriz Barbosa Silva, a psychiatrist and author of Depressive Minds stated: “no one takes their own life without a big dose of desperation, hopelessness, incapacity and nullity in its mind”. There isn’t a single answer as to why, but there are groups of people who are at higher risk to attempt suicide, such as people with mental illness disorder; people with disabling clinical conditions; those who had a loss recently, like a loved one, or a job; and LGBTQ+ people.
The biggest risk factor is by far a previous attempt. Not all is lost. Suicide is preventable. The World Health Organisation listed the following as some actions we can take:
- limit access to the means of suicide (e.g. pesticides, firearms, certain medications);
- interact with the media for responsible reporting of suicide;
- foster socio-emotional life skills in adolescents;
- early identify, assess, manage and follow up anyone who is affected by suicidal behaviours.
Those are only a few actions we can take in order to prevent tragedy. But we can do more. End the stigma around the word suicide. Talk about it with friends, family, children. Ask loved ones if they’re going through some difficult times. Only when we end the taboo, we will be able to really help people who are struggling to get out of a bad place.
If you are affected by any of the issues cited above, please contact:
- Feeling low or sad? Anxious? Stressed? Text HELLO to 50808 for an anonymous 24/7 free chat service provided by the HSE.
- Contact your general practitioner or your local hospital/ emergency services or attend the emergency department if you need urgent support/ psychiatric care.
Written by: Amanda Rodrigues
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