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Suicide: When There is No Light at the End of The Tunnel

Of all human experiences, the most devastating is the loss of a loved one. It shakes the very core, the center of our existence. It alters us irrevocably. They were here with us yesterday, maybe hours ago, or perhaps just seconds ago, and now, in a flash of a second, they are gone. At that moment, everything else ceases to matter. Nothing makes sense, and all we are left with is a heart-wrenching feeling of shock and grief. A storm has passed and ripped us of all happiness and security. We feel alone and helpless. We feel betrayed. 

However, the life-shattering pain of losing someone to death is often accompanied by an intense sense of guilt and self-blame when death is due to suicide.

What pushes people to the brink of death?  Why do some people succumb to the pressures and injustices of life? What leads them to believe so strongly that there is no way out of the all-consuming darkness that they are trapped inside? Can it be prevented?  In this article, we shall examine the causes of suicide. More importantly, we will learn about our role in preventing it. While doing so, we must not forget to be empathetic and compassionate toward the departed souls.

According to the World Health Organisation Report from 2022, an estimated 703,000 people commit suicide around the world. Furthermore, the number of people attempting suicide is even higher. The most affected age group lies between 15-29 years. Additionally, approximately 77 % of suicides occur in middle-income or lower-income countries.

What is even more heart-breaking is that since the last decade, between 2010-2020, the number of people committing suicide has gone up considerably. This is a cause of grave concern.

Suicide has been linked to mental disorders, particularly depression and alcohol abuse, for a long time. However, many people resort to taking their own lives impulsively in moments of crisis, such as a financial crunch or a relationship breakup. Among students of all age groups, peer pressure and academic distress have emerged as some of the major causes of suicides.  

In underdeveloped regions of the world such as Eastern and Central Africa, Central America, and the Middle East, the leading cause behind suicides is a lack of economic prospects, such as the lack of the most basic civic amenities such as hygienic food and water, shelter, education, and healthcare facilities. Resultantly, people lose all hope of a better future.  In the Middle East and Central America, decades of civil war and political instability have led to an exodus of millions of people. For them, losing their geographical as well as cultural identity has resulted in an existential crisis.

On the other hand, developed countries in the world, such as Russia, Japan, and South Korea, also have a very high suicide rate. According to Scholars studying the social causes of suicide, most of the world's developed regions are going through a wave of “spiritual and emptiness.”

However, mental disorders still constitute the most dominant aspect of suicide worldwide. Depression, Anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and Alcohol and Substance abuse are the most debilitating causes of suicide. More than 60 % of people who attempt suicide do so due to the ravaging effects of mental health disorders. Moreover, what is even more unfortunate is the sheer lack of knowledge and awareness about suicide. In most countries, opening up about mental health disorders and suicidal tendencies is accompanied by considerable social stigma. 

In most cases, people resort to taking their own life only when they think they have lost their will to live. Maybe they just lost a job or a pet. Perhaps they are going through a troubled marriage where their spouse abuses them emotionally and physically. Perhaps after years of suffering from depression or a severe anxiety disorder, they feel like they will never recover. Whatever the situation, the bottom line is that they have given up all hope.  

Therefore, they must be instilled with a sense of hope, of optimism. As friends or family of someone with suicidal tendencies, we must help them find something worth living for. In his book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning,’ Victor Frankl explains that a human can endure anything and everything as long as he has a reason to live. His renowned ‘Logotherapy’ focuses on giving life a purpose, a meaning.

Furthermore, being in constant touch with someone with suicidal tendencies is also extremely helpful. Developing a kind and caring attitude towards them is crucial. This is an essential step in building confidence and trust. It enables them to open up during their lowest moments. 

Therefore, communication, kindness, and optimism are essential in helping them confide in you. With this comes a more significant responsibility which is gradually convincing them to seek medical help. Psychotherapy (particularly Integrative Psychodynamic Approach) has been considered extremely helpful in reducing suicidal tendencies over some time. Psychodynamic Psychotherapy helps focus attention on the internal experience of the patient. This is achieved through having an open-ended and interactive discussion in a therapeutic space with an empathetic therapist.

Moreover, it is essential to alleviate the social stigma surrounding mental health disorders and suicide. Social stigma invariably leads to the social and emotional isolation of the person with suicidal tendencies. This can be done by spreading awareness regarding the importance of mental health and suicide prevention through social media, campaigns in schools, colleges, and workplaces, and conducting interactive sessions on various platforms (especially on electronic media). Sensitizing people is of immense importance.

In the end, we must realize that none of us are invincible. Difficult phases and bad times can sometimes break even the strongest person. Therefore we mustn't judge people with suicidal tendencies and remain empathetic and kind towards them. After all, a world devoid of humaneness and empathy is not worth living in. We have all been there, tip-toeing on the verge of life and death when we were faced with something that caused us excruciating pain and stress. In those moments, we all wanted someone to be there, to hold our hand and tell us that we were not alone. We all wanted someone to look at us, eyes shining with a hope of a better tomorrow. We all yearn for someone to inspire us to take that one step and open up. For those not left alone and stranded in such times, this can be your opportunity to create another example to save someone’s life. For those who did not have a hand to hold during their most difficult times, this is your opportunity to create a better example. They are counting on us, even if they do not say it. Let us hold their hand and walk them through the tunnel. They, too, shall see that. Indeed, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Edited by: Whitney Edna Ibe




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Tags: #suicide #mental health #prevention


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