Suicide: Risk Factors and Prevention Methods
Why have suicide risk factors become a topic that we don’t talk about? Why is this a taboo? To solve any problem, the first step is to become informed about the issue. If you don’t fully understand the problem, it’s impossible to come up with an effective solution.
Consequently, it’s important to talk about suicide. Part of the discussion should include the risk factors associated with suicidal behavior, both individually and environmentally. It’s equally important to identify methods that can help prevent suicide. Through open discussion, it’s easier to understand the issue and know what we can do about it.
Suicide: One of the most serious social issues
According to the World Health Organization, suicide is among the top 15 causes of death worldwide and is the leading cause of violent death. Spain, although it’s not among the countries with the highest suicide rates, does have a growing trend.
It’s estimated that nine people commit suicide each day in Spain. This has become a serious public health problem. More than one million people commit suicide per year worldwide. These figures have increased in recent years. Furthermore, it’s estimated that the numbers will continue to rise.
The suicide rate has significant consequences for the population as a whole. The psychological and social impacts of suicide directly affect those closest to the victim. The death of a loved one can affect friends and family emotionally, socially, and economically.
This is why it’s becoming increasingly important to study and identify suicide risk factors. Once the factors are identified and understood, prevention and intervention programs can be implemented. The need for prevention is especially important when you consider that suicide is one of the three main causes of death in adolescents between the ages of 15 to 24.
How can we prevent suicide?
To successfully find preventative measures, we first need to identify suicide risk factors. Identifying risk factors can help us understand how and when to intervene. Even so, not everything can be based on these factors. There are many other important things to take into account, such as what type of person the potential victim is, what stage of life they’re in, and any stressful life events that are happening that could trigger suicidal behavior.
Mental disorders are one of the most important and prevalent suicide risk factors. Because of this, special attention has been devoted to studying this factor in suicidal behavior. These studies are numerous and have been carried out over time. Some disorders that have been studied in conjunction with suicide are bipolar disorder, depression, and psychotic disorders (for example, schizophrenia). The following are other potential risk factors:
- Previous suicide attempts.
- A family history of suicidal behavior.
- A stressful life event, such as a divorce or economic difficulties.
- Inadequate or non-existent social and family support.
Despite what we mentioned above, there are also protective factors. Protective factors are defined as factors that decrease the likelihood of suicide even when several risk factors are present. Within these protective factors are:
- Ability to have social relationships.
- Having children.
- Quality social or family support.
Good options for preventing suicide
Based on this information, we can conclude that suicide is more than a set of individual factors. Consequently, a mental disorder alone does not cause suicide. The environment also plays a big role.
In the same way, there are protective factors at both the personal and environmental level. This is beneficial. The more protection a person has against committing suicide, the less likely they will follow through with suicidal behavior. It’s also easier to prevent suicide in someone who has more protective factors.
All of the above can help reverse the growing suicide rates. Therefore, a good option for suicide prevention would be to design prevention programs aimed at people who, due to their situation, fit the profile of someone who’s at risk. This program could also enhance any protective factors that exist or develop new ones.