What is suicide, can suicide be prevented?

Suicide can be described as an act in which the person intentionally causes his or her own death. It often occurs as a result of despair and is often related to various psychiatric disorders like depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism or substance abuse. Financial problems and disputes between people are the foremost stress factors which can lead to suicide.

It is calculated that over 1 million people lose their lives through suicide every year. There are also 10-20 million suicide attempts each year that do not result in death. The most important risk factor in suicide is the presence of a psychiatric disorder immediately prior to the act of suicide. It is proven that approximately 80% of suicides are related to a psychiatric disorder.

Are there ways to recognise when a person will attempt suicide? Although in most suicide cases the presence of certain signs prior to the suicide can be established, we have to accept that it is not always possible to predict a suicide attempt with certainty. However, certain signs should be taken serious and in the presence of these the patient should be assessed by a psychiatrist:

– If the person constantly talks about death and is preoccupied with death,

– If the person is suffering from clinical depression,

– If the person displays behaviour that is likely to result in death: refusing to take essential medication, fast driving etc.

– If the person has started to avoid activities which he was interested in previously,

– If the person says that he is feeling desperate, lonely and guilty,

– If the person suddenly steps into a cheerful and calm mood after having been very sad, unenthusiastic and worried before,

– If the person clearly states that he wants to commit suicide,

– If the person pays visits to say good by to people or carries out similar acts.

The thought and intention of suicide that accompanies psychiatric disorders, resolves by itself if the psychiatric disorder is treated effectively. Because of this it has to be accepted that at least theoretically most suicides are preventable.