Written and Narrated by: Fozia Tahir
Global issues are getting complex day by day. safeguarding peace, protecting human rights, establishing the framework for international justice, climate change, and refugee crises are some of the major challenges that the globe is facing at the moment. As time passes by the list is only growing and the issues are getting complex. The one that you are affected to directly grabs more of your attention than the others. For me in recent times, suicide has been one such issue.
Suicide is the 14th leading cause of death worldwide, responsible for 1-5% of all mortality. Because suicide is a conscious decision of an individual to end their life, developing methods to predict and prevent its occurrence in majority is majorly the responsibility of psychologists, psychiatrist and related metal health professionals.
But before we get into the details of this topic it’s important to understand what theories and models have been developed to understand the suicidal behaviour of people. Contemporary models of suicide are diathesis stress in origin. These models suggest that the negative results of pre-existing vulnerability factors are especially pronounced when activated by stress. There are models such as that of linehan’s model of emotional dysregulation which underpins dialectal behaviour therapy i.e. to help people suffering from mood disorders as well as those who need to change patterns of behavior that are not helpful, such as suicidal ideation. While, other theoretical developments have focused on an individuals’ appraisal system.
Interpersonal theory of suicide:
According to this theory when the desire for suicide merges with the capability for suicide this can lead to near lethal suicide attempts and are associated with thwarted belongingness such as feeling lonely and perceived burdensomeness that is considering yourself a burden and not seeing a way out of it.
Integrated motivational volitional model of suicidal behaviour:
This model conceptualises suicide as a behaviour rather than a mental disorder that develops through motivational and volitional phase. It suggests that there is pre motivational phase that could be due to the environment you live in, major life events, or diathesis leading to a motivational phase in which an individual feels defeat and humiliation and feels entrapped in the situation and this leads to suicide ideation and leading the individual to the volitional phase where they may develop suicidal behaviour..
I think both these theories are correct in different situations. The basic idea is that this behaviour develops over a period of time in an individual and can be taken care of if people around them notice their behaviour and help them with it.
vulnerability to suicidal behaviours: risk and protective factors
Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that individuals will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. Protective factors are characteristics that make it less likely that individuals will consider, attempt, or die by suicide.
Factors associated with suicide risk can be classified into four groups
- Personality and individual differences- e.g. hopelessness, impulsivity, perfectionism, neurotisicm and extroversion, optimism and resilience
- Cognitive factors: cognitive rigidity, rumination, thought suppression, autobiographical memory biasis, belongingness and burdensomeness, fearlessness about injury and death, pain insensitivity, problem solving and coping, agitation, implicit associations, future thinking, goal adjustment, entrapment
- Social factors: social isolation,exposure to death by suicide of others, assortative homiphilly, contagion, social transmission
- Negative life events: childhood adversities, traumatic life events, physical illness, deceiving adulthood, interpersonal stressors, psychological stress response
Major protective factors include the following:
- Effective mental health care • Connectedness to individuals, family, community, and social institutions • Problem-solving skills • Contacts with caregivers
Role of faith
As I was thinking about prevention I thought at first of faith. As I am a muslim and suicide is forbidden or what we call “haram” in Islam.
In Surah 16 verse 16 is is said about death, “when their time comes they cannot delay it for a single hour,nor can they bring it forward by a single hour”. It is believed that the soul of a person who commits suicide doesn’t salvate and remains astray on earth.. that scares me and the idea that this life is a gift of god to me that the soul shall one day return to him is what I have learnt and believed in my whole life.. to see if other faiths say the same I read a little about each faith.
Christianity too believes that life is given by god and human beings are made in god’s image. Suicide is considered a mortal sin. The catechism asserts, “we are stewards, not owners of the life god has entrusted to us. it is not our to dispose off”.
Hinduism and Busdhism regards all life forms to be sacred and follow the principle of ahimsa of no harm. With the exception of prayopavesa in Hinduism.
According to a chief Jewish rabbi the value of human life is infinite and beyond measure so the worth of a single second in life is as high as that of seventy years.
Jews don’t bury the bodies in the same cemetery and don’t perform all the ritual for them.
Sikh gurus have as well rejected suicide considering it an interface in god’s plan suffering is a part of karma and should be accepted by human beings to make the best of situation life has given them.
The next issue of utmost importance is the projection of suicides. Certain type of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide. Suicide is a public health issues and some suicide deaths maybe newsworthy but the graphics and the headlines should be thought through. The news should encourage help seeking displaying the suicide helplines at all times instead of showing the pictures of location or mourning. The audience should be informed without sensationalising the news. Such as instead of speaking to the police the issue of public health should be discussed to inform the audience and talk about cause and treatment options.
Warning signs: talking about dying and ways to kill, feeling hopeless, feeling trapped or having unbearable pain, being burden, increasing alcohol and drug use, acting anxious and agitated, mood swings, feeling lonely, sleeping too little or too much and so on
You should not leave such people alone,and keep sharp objects alcohol and toxic chemicals away from them
I hear news of young people taking their lives from where I come that is the northen areas of Pakistan and I think to myself what can I do about this? While I am sitting here I can only educate myself and everyone else about it. Get them to speak about it.
No matter how hard life is on you, you have to pick yourself up, make it meaningful, find the purpose of your life and if you haven’t found the purpose of your life yet then go and find. You have perhaps heard many people say this but you need to know what is it that you enjoy doing the most?
As you evolve in the process of finding the purpose of your life, you will find peace with things, events and people in your life and you will learn to heal if you were hurt..
We should heal slowly and steadily. We must all find peace in living and not in death.. so let us all unite together with the hope the suicides this year will be less than last year, that we will all listen to each other, understand one another, accept each other.. and not just that we will also encourage each other to live and we must all believe that the best is yet to come..
Let us not feel trapped.. let us enjoy our freedom while we may.
This year the world suicide prevention day is on the 10th of September. The theme for this year is ‘take a minute, change a life’..
So take out a minute..speak to people around you, people who you know and love and people you don’t know..as it is said everyone is a fighting a battle that we don’t know about so we should be kind to them.
Lastly thank you for joining us for this podcast we are hoping to be able to do more on this topic, if there is any way we can help you? If we can speak to you for a minute, or speak to a mental health expert on your behalf we would be happy to do that.. for others please take a minute and change a life