By Palgrave Boakye-Danquah (Executive Director, Kandifo Institute)
Suicide is one of the most terrible thoughts to ever cross the mind of an individual. Suicide is the result of a concurrence of genetic, psychological, social, cultural and other risk factors.
- Why suicide
- What are the risk factors / causes of suicide
- How to prevent cases of suicide
- How and why the citizens and the government of a country should be involved in the prevention or reduction of suicide.
Suicide is an act of taking one’s own life or causing one’s own death. But there is more to that than taking one’s own life. Suicide comes in different ways or forms. Attempted suicide, Homicide suicide, assisted suicide etc. The risk factors of suicide goes beyond mental disorder. There are several other factors that makes an individual want to commit suicide.
- Psychosocial factors (depression, anxiety, loss of pleasure in life, agitation, rigid thinking, lack of social support etc.)
- Socio-economic factors ( Unemployment, Financial crisis, poverty)
- Substance abuse or misuse
- Medical conditions
- Trauma, personal issues also the history of suicide in an individual’s family can also be a risk factor
- The media: The media, because people seem to imitate what is been portrayed on the internet, TV etc. Videos of how suicide is done viewed by vulnerable victims gives these victims the avenues of committing suicide. Not only videos but movies with such actions portrayed in them also influences on vulnerable victims of suicide.
- Other factors include, bullying, rape, child abuse etc.
According to research, approximately 0.5 to 1.4% of people die by suicide in a year worldwide with a mortality rate of 11.6 per 100,000 persons per year. Every 40 seconds a person commits suicide somewhere in the world with a strong impact on families and friends is devastating and far reached. Suicide resulted in 824,000 deaths as at 2013 and globally it’s the tenth cause of death as of 2009 and for every suicide that results in death there are between 10 to 40 attempted suicides. The rate of suicide significantly differ between countries. Ghana’s suicide rate as of 2016 was 5.40% per 100,000 population with an increase of 1.89% from 2015. About 800,000 people die yearly from suicide with most of them suffering from depression. The most common way of committing suicide in Ghana is by taking poison and by hanging. Most victims of suicide take in pesticides and other chemicals which very known is bad for the human when taking in. About 80% of suicide victims attempted suicide several times and became vulnerable to the idea of committing suicide.
How is the government and citizens involved in decreasing the rate of suicide? Definitely the idea of suicide can’t be eradicated totally in the society or across the world but it can be reduced with the help of every individual and entity. The government and citizens of countries across the globe has a responsibility of decreasing suicide.
- Governments can intervene in the reduction and prevention of suicide by creating a national strategy or agenda and a clear commitment to suicide prevention.
- Restricting access to most common means of committing suicide
- Social support within communities is also a responsibility of both citizens and governments.
- Vulnerable victims can feel better when given attention, making them feel safe and comfortable.
- The governments also has a responsibility of making the economy of countries better to the point where the poorest is able to afford basic needs. Making provisions for job availability is also a responsibility for the governments to help reduce suicide.
- The health workers also has a responsibility to protect and provide good medication for mentally ill persons who are vulnerable to committing suicide.
- The media also has a role in reducing suicide This includes educating the public about suicide, risk factors and where to seek help; avoiding sensationalism and glamorization; and avoiding detailed descriptions of suicidal acts. Governments can help media with these efforts by releasing public service announcements that raise awareness, identify and treat mental and substance use disorders as early as possible, and ensuring those vulnerable to suicide receive the care they need before it is too late. Mental health and alcohol policies should be integrated into the overall health-care services, and governments should ensure sufficient funding to improve these services.
- NGO’s can also help raise awareness to help reduce suicidal acts. Every citizen is involved in this agenda and every family as well.
It is our collective gain to save lives.