Suicide is a word we hear more often than necessary and yet it’s still a taboo topic to be discussed in Sri Lankan public. Suicidal behavior is a criminal offense and is punishable by law. Some cultures and religions condemn suicide and this is also why the topic of suicide is still not publicly discussed. The Oxford Dictionary defines suicide as the act of killing yourself deliberately. Attempted suicide is when someone wants to end their life and harm themselves but survive with self-injuries.
Suicide is one of the main causes of death in the world and is the second leading cause of death among people from ages 15 to 24. About one in 15000 people die due to suicide. The rate of suicide among males is four times more than in females, but attempted suicide is more common among females. Most suicides occur in the European region and South East Asia comes in second while the least amount of suicides and attempted suicides are seen in the East Mediterranean region. In 2018, 3281 Sri Lankan individuals took their lives and of them, 2619 were male.
World Suicide Prevention Day falls on the 10th of September and to prevent suicide, we should first look into causes for suicide. Some of the main reasons for suicide are mental disorders, substance abuse, economic and social problems as well as genetics.
Mental disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder are two of the main causes of suicide. The pain of existence drags them into feeling that death is an escape to the pain they feel. The thought that no one loves or cares for them and that no one is there for them pulls them towards death. Schizophrenics hear voices in their heads commanding them to harm themselves or even kill themselves. Depression, Schizophrenia and all other mental diseases can be treated and suicide can be prevented by giving them constant love, attention and most importantly, proper treatment.
Substance abuse, more commonly known as drug abuse is also a leading cause for suicide. Taking harmful drugs frequently and consuming them in large quantities cause death, and some use them to take their lives on purpose. Withdrawal of the use of drugs such as Heroin and Cocaine often induces suicidal thoughts. Many famous celebrities such as Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Mac Miller and Whitney Houston committed suicide by drug overdose.
Researches show that having a family history of suicide and suicidal tendencies can increase the thought of suicide among other family members. Watching a family member commit suicide or finding their body can also induce suicidal thoughts in oneself.
Sexual abuse and harassment, unemployment, debt, poverty, socio-economic problems also are some reasons where people consider suicide.
Symptoms and signs:
A person who considers suicide almost always shows symptoms.
- They often talk about death, how painless it may be and may also make threats like “I’m going to kill myself” or “You’re better off without me”.
- They may also show a lack of interest in any future plans and may give away their valued possessions.
- Changing normal sleeping and eating patterns and withdrawing from social activities is also seen in people with suicidal thoughts.
- They may also start acting very daring and take part in risky activities.
- You may also notice a change in their personality and this should be a sign to speak to them and look into the situation more carefully.
Helping the victims:
- Always be compassionate and understanding, and don’t be judgmental. Give them time to open up and reassure them that things will get better.
- Direct them towards a professional, a support group or help them get the necessary medication.
- Inform a close or trusted family member about the situation and try to remove any potential harmful items from their homes.
Suicide is not an escape from problems and taking your life away only causes pain to your loved ones and causes more problems. Suicide should never be treated as a solution for your issues and if you ever feel suicidal, or if you feel that someone you know may attempt suicide, make sure to act wisely and seek help.
Some volunteer organizations in Sri Lanka that work towards preventing suicides:
- Sumithrayo – 011 2692 909, 011 2696 666
- CCCline – 1333
- Shanthi Maargam – 0717639898
Always remember you are not alone!
Written by –
Rtr. Azfa Azhar