Published On: Mon, Jul 24th, 2017

Matters of the Mind: Suicide

fb8d010a99475d723fa42547093f4e88I was around the age of 12 when I first attempted suicide. And though some may argue that a child doesn’t have anything to be depressed about, I highly disagree. I grew up in an abusive household – watching my father abuse my mother both physically and verbally. I cannot count the endless nights of him coming home drunk to yell and curse – always complaining about his life and how much he wanted her dead.


In the morning, I would go to school deprived of sleep only to be bullied by students who thought I was different. They would call me names and beat me for being weird, for talking and simply just for being there. I was called ugly, stupid and a waste of space – not only by my bullies, but by my father as well. I was thought to hate myself. I hated looking in the mirror, because every time I do, I would see his face. I would spend days feeling like a worthless burden and nights crying myself to sleep – wishing I was dead.


Sometimes, I would spend my time researching ways to commit suicide. When I talked about it, no-one took me seriously. I felt trapped in my unbearable pain, restless, isolated, angry and broken. Sadly, people do not realize that these are clear warning signs. Suicide – or the attempt of it – isn’t something that happens randomly and it it’s a cry for attention. It means having to be strong for so long that you eventually lose yourself and your mind.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every year close to 800,000 people take their own life and there are many more people who attempt suicide. Every suicide is a tragedy that affects families, communities and entire countries and has long-lasting effects on the people left behind. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and was the second leading cause of death among 15–29-year-olds.


While the link between suicide and mental disorders (in particular, depression, and alcohol use disorders). Many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness. In addition, experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, or loss and a sense of isolation are strongly associated with suicidal behavior.


However, suicides are preventable, and there are a number of measures that can be taken at population, sub-population and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts. These include, reducing access to the means of suicide (e.g. pesticides, firearms, certain medications, reporting by media in a responsible way, introducing alcohol policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, early identification, treatment and care of people with mental and substance use disorders, chronic pain and acute emotional distress, training of non-specialized health workers in the assessment and management of suicidal behavior, and follow-up care for people who attempted suicide and provision of community support.


Suicide is a complex issue and therefore suicide prevention efforts require coordination and collaboration among multiple sectors of society, including the health sector and other sectors such as education, labor, agriculture, business, justice, law, defense, politics, and the media. These efforts must be comprehensive and integrated as no single approach alone can make an impact on an issue as complex as suicide.

by Julie Alcin