Causes of Suicide

Suicide is when someone takes their own life and it is one of the most common causes of death within the United States. Suicide is a tragic form of reacting to stressful situations and life, and the most tragic part is that it can be prevented. Whether you know someone who is considering suicide or are doing so yourself, you should be aware of the warning signs of suicide as well as how to get immediate help and professional treatment. This can save a life, whether it is some else’s or your own.

Causes of Suicide

It can be incredibly complex to understand the reasons behind someone’s suicide or suicide attempt. One question that everyone has and longs to find the answer to is: why? They want to know why their sibling, spouse, parent, child or a friend took their own life.

What's on their mind: It is common for relatives of those who either commit suicide or attempt to do so to become angry or blame themselves. In some cases, they will view the suicide attempt as being selfish. In reality, people who attempt suicide frequently have the mistaken belief that they are doing a favor for their friends and family by removing themselves from the world.

Here are some of the most common reasons behind suicide.

1. They Are Depressed- Number One Cause for Suicide

The most common reason for suicide is depression. Severe depression will be accompanied by the belief that a person can’t escape from the hopelessness of their extreme sufferings. It is common for a depressed person to be unable to bear the pain of their existence and their depression leads to warped thoughts like others would be better off without them. These people should never be blamed for these distorted thoughts as it's simply a disease. Depression is always possible to treat, so it is important to learn to recognize the signs. Even if it leads to discomfort, you should directly ask about suicidal thoughts if you suspect someone you know has them.

2. To Alert People Around

Some people simply are crying for help and can’t think of another way to do so. In these cases, the person may not necessarily want to die but they want their family and friends to know there is an issue. They frequently don’t think they will die and will choose a method that they feel is not necessarily deadly either as a cry for help or to get back at someone. These people frequently end up misinformed and consequently die. One common example is someone who takes a full bottle of Tylenol without realizing that high doses can lead to permanent liver damage and death. In these cases, they may suffer a lot and even die a painful death after they are no longer suicidal and finally have the desired help.

3. To Seek Relief

Some people who attempt suicide may be trying to escape a situation in life which they feel impossible to handle. Many people who attempt suicide simply want relief from:

  • Feeling loneliness, loss, or rejection
  • Feeling that they are a victim
  • Feeling guilty, ashamed, or that they are a burden

4. To Escape from Certain Overwhelming Situation

Suicide attempts are also seen when someone experiences an event or situation that they feel is overwhelming including:

  • Aging (keep in mind the highest rate of suicide is among the elderly)
  • Money problems or unemployment
  • Serious physical illness
  • Emotional trauma
  • Dependence on alcohol or drugs
  • A loved one dying

5. Other Reasons

There are also a range of other reasons that can lead to suicide. Some people who attempt suicide have psychosis and hear inner voices that tell them to self-harm or commit suicide. This tends to be much harder for people to hide compared to depression and is treatable. Some suicide attempts are also due to an impulsive decision, sometimes influenced by alcohol or drugs. Afterwards, these people may feel remorse.

Some suicides are simple mistakes in which someone experiments with something such as oxygen deprivation, but accidentally goes too far without awareness of the consequences. A final reason would be a philosophical wish to die. This would be due to a reasoned decision that allows the person to control their destiny and is most common in those with a chronic and/or deadly illness.

6. Risk Factors for Suicide

Some of the most common risk factors for suicide (particularly in teens) include:

  • A romantic breakup
  • Living in an area with many recent suicides
  • A history of neglect or abuse
  • A history of intentional self-harm
  • A family member who has committed suicide
  • Access to guns

Warning Signs of Suicide

There are not always obvious warning signs of suicide and they can vary greatly. While some people will clearly share their intentions, others keep them secret.

Signs That Someone May Attempt Suicide

Some indications that a person may attempt suicide include giving away their possessions, having difficulties thinking or concentrating, difficulty with work or school, talking about “getting their affairs in order” or going away. There may also be sudden changes in behavior, a loss of interest in formerly loved activities, staying away from friends or self-destructive behaviors. Other signs include talking about suicide or death, mentioning feelings of guilt or hopelessness, changes in eating or sleeping habits and making arrangements to commit suicide, like buying a gun.

Signs When You Should See a Doctor

Specific signs indicate that you or your loved one should see a doctor include feeling hopeless, trapped, alone, agitated, or anxious; increasing drinking or drug use; sleeping too much or too little; or mood changes. Final signs include seeing suicide as a way out of a situation or feeling like there is not a reason to live.

How to Prevent Suicide

Suicide affects not only the person who commits it but also those around him or her. It is possible to prevent many suicidal thoughts by recognizing the warning signs and taking action.

You can reduce the risk of suicide by avoiding drugs and alcohol. If you have teens or children in your home, keep guns outside of the home or locked and separate from the bullets; don’t keep alcohol in the house or you can locked it up, and make sure prescription medications are locked as well.

It is common for some people to talk about suicide before attempting it and in some cases simply having someone to talk to can prevent it. Never ever ignore a suicide threat and always seek professional help from a suicide prevention center.

When looking for potential signs of suicide, remember CLUES.

C-Connect with the person.

L-Listen to the person so they know you care.

U-Understand by showing your wish to support and want to understand their feelings.

E-Express Concerns so they know you are worried.

S-Seek Help from a doctor or someone else trained to help.

Watch a video to learn why people commit suicide: 

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