FAMILY FUSION: Reasons for suicide
Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. – Dale Carnegie
MY TELEPHONE rang late one night and on the other end was a female who told me she was going to commit suicide, and identified the means by which she was going to do it. She was dead serious.
The individual gave a long list of reasons why living was a waste of time and why committing suicide was the best option for her. I thought the fact she took time to call me meant there was a window of hope still left to rescue her from falling prematurely into the welcoming arms of death. God gave me wisdom to guide her away from her intended action and today she is still alive and is a very productive member of society.
I am aware that health care professionals at every level are kept busy with individuals who have given up on life. At Family Heartbeat International Network Inc., where I have worked for several years, my staff and I have had first-hand encounters with many people of all ages and professions who present very strong desires to commit suicide.
Last week I gave an overview on the serious nature of suicide worldwide. I brought into focus how this health hazard continues to gain the attention of international agencies, including the World Health Organisation (WHO). Today I desire to examine some major reasons why individuals may kill themselves.
Reasons among the youth
According to the WHO, suicide is the second leading cause of death worldwide within the 15-29 age group. It is not always easy to pin down any one reason why young people may be inclined to commit suicide. For one thing, there are many different transitions going on in the youths’ bodies, minds, social connections and emotions.
Research continues to show that major disappointments, such as failure, rejection and loss of a boyfriend/girlfriend could trigger suicide yearnings. Also, stress-related matters such as physical, sexual and verbal abuse; bullying and depression; feelings of helplessness and hopelessness; and according to WHO, alcohol and drug abuse has now become a major contributor to suicidal behaviour. The issues of young people therefore should not be ignored, and every parent and concerned citizen should be ready to help our youth to be as positively focused as possible.
Reasons among the elderly
There is a tendency to ignore the reality all elderly persons are susceptible to suicidal tendencies. Research is consistent in showing the suicide rate among the elderly, especially those who have reached 70 and beyond, is very high worldwide. Some of the reasons advanced by researchers for such a high suicide rate are things like depression, loss of spouse, chronic illness, social disconnections and loneliness.
Over the years, I have come face to face with elderly individuals who, despite their challenging circumstances, had a passion to live and make others happy. I have also encountered others who have told me they just don’t want to live anymore. Some of those in the latter category were carrying deep social, mental, emotional and physical scars that made them feel hopeless.
Individuals who work with the elderly say that often suicide among the elderly, especially the men, is carefully planned and because their bodies are not as strong as in previous years, the chance of surviving an attempt is often slim. Being sensitive to the needs of our elderly may assist in preventing suicide from occurring so frequently.
Unhealthy domestic situations are breeding grounds for suicidal ideations. Constant fighting, abuse at all levels, divorce, separations, cheating, unemployment, among many other troubling situations, are why suicide takes place among family members. I recall a mother who said her home environment was so stressful that she thought hard of ending it all, but it was the thought of her children that stopped her. A man also told me the frustrations at home were so grave, the temptation was to get rid of everybody and then himself. Fortunately, he was able to put those thoughts behind him and work towards a resolution. The key to minimising or eliminating suicide within the domestic setting is seeking to live as harmoniously a possible.
Sudden, unexpected crisis situations are known to accelerate the chances of individuals committing suicide. Terminal health issues and loneliness as well as sudden loss of employment, spouse, children, close friends and loss of property may eventually develop into critical incidents and could lead to mental health issues like depression, anxiety and other related challenges.
With the onset of critical situations, many persons may not know what to do. Seeking help from individuals who are trained to deal with such situations is a wise step to take in order to avoid movement toward suicide.
In February 2012, PubMed Central published the results of a ten-year study in one of its journals confirming that hopelessness is a major reason why individuals may commit suicide. My experience over the years also concurs with that study. When people are unable to hold onto something, which they believe is stronger than their pressing situation, they then can collapse into the waiting arms of suicide. It seems like a wise thing to anchor your life onto something that can hold you firmly during life’s cross-currents.
With God’s help and those who care for you and your welfare, you can get back on your feet and be a conqueror. Others have done it and so can you.
Next week I will reveal some of the red-light signals of suicide.
Reverend Haynesley Griffith is a marriage and family life consultant. Email [email protected]