Suicide Prevention is Impossible. Discuss.
Suicide is a leading worldwide cause of death that claims around 1 million lives each year. Its causes are often shrouded in myth and avoidance, due to the sensitive nature of the topic. It leaves loved ones with more long-lasting feelings of guilt, puzzlement, shame and distress than any other form of death, (Gallo &Pfeiffer, 2003) and affects more people than we, perhaps realise. Despite the volume of people affected by this tragedy, the debate of preventability still exists, partly due to lack of public knowledge about suicide and partly due to the vast array of reasoning behind both arguments. Warning Signs and Risk Factors
Kring, A.M., Johnson, S.L., Davison, G.C., & Neale, J.M. (2010) list various facts about suicide that allude to the idea of who is more at risk. For example, suicide risk increases with age although the suicide figures for young people are dramatically increasing also. Being divorced or widowed increases ones risk of suicide and, according to Arias, Anderson, Kung, Murphy and Kochanek (2003), men are four times more likely to kill themselves than women. Another significant risk factor is the link with depression and mood disorders as people suffering from these often have suicidal thoughts or engage in suicidal behaviours. Already, there is an archetype forming of a middle age male, who has recently lost their partner and perhaps as a result, now suffers from depression. It can be argued that these attributes, collectively, may translate as a suicide risk, however falling into any of these categories, or even all, does not necessarily mean that this person will commit suicide or exhibit suicidal behaviour. In fact, it could be argued that these statistics do not facilitate suicide prevention as the categories are so wide and such a large proportion of the population will fall into each, that investigating each case would, itself, be impossible. A myth discussed by Fremouw, De Perzel & Ellis (1990) is the idea that people who discuss suicide will not commit it. They found that statistically, three quarters of people who discussed suicide proceeded to take their own lives. Perhaps if people who discussed suicide were able to access help, taken seriously and receive treatment, their outcome could have been prevented. This suggests that warning signs in the form of grouping statistically significant individuals is an implausible way of addressing and preventing suicide however listening to those who reach out or discuss suicide in a way that seems worrying and genuine, could lead to preventative measures. Predictability via Psychological Disorders
There is a significant link between psychological disorders and suicide. Joiner & Thomas (2010) state that the “risk for suicide is partly genetic and is influenced by often agonizing mental disorders. Vulnerability to suicide may be anticipated, treated and… prevented.” Mental illness proves important in understanding suicide and the reasons for it due to the overwhelming figures suggesting that up to 90% of people who attempt suicide suffer from a mental illness. More than half of those who try and kill themselves are depressed at the time (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006) and, more specifically, among people who are hospitalised, due to bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, 10-12% will eventually die from suicide, (Angst, F., Staten, H.H,. Clayton, P.J. & Angst, J., 2002). The association with suicide and psychological disorders is not limited to severe cases as shown by Linehan (1997) who found that eating disorders, panic disorders and even alcoholism all had significant links with suicide. This research provides lists upon lists of statistics representing the suggestion that suicide is often preceded with the diagnosis or discovery of a psychological disorder. If this is true, and suicide risk increases in those with a mental illness, mostly...
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