Suicide Essay, Research Paper
Over 23,000 people commit suicide in the United States
every year.(Suicide Facts) Among these people are the young
and the old, the sick, and the well. There is not just one
type of person that will do such a thing, but all people. To
help prevent suicide education and easy access to
information is key. In order to even start to prevent
suicide one must know the statistics, causes- such as
depression, alcohol ,and the availability of fire arms-
warning signals, and how to help and cope when someone you
know is contemplating suicide. Prevention of this horrible
crisis is possible.
Due to the stigma associated with suicide, available
statistics may well underestimate the problem. Nevertheless,
these figures do underscore the urgent need to seek a
solution to the suicide epidemic among people. (San Pedro)
Suicide accounts for 1.4% of all deaths, and is the ninth
leading cause of death in the United States. To get a
picture of how many people this truly is just think of this.
A person commits suicide every fifteen minutes, and an
attempt is made about once every minute.(Suicide Facts) Both
adults and youth are part of the attempts and sad successes.
Often suicide is thought of as a young crisis, but
suicide is very prominent in the adult community as well.
Suicide rates for men peak after the age of 65. Women have a
double peak in their suicide rate, once between the ages of
40-54 years old, and then again after the age of 75. The
highest suicide rates are found among white males over the
age of 50, which represents 10% of the American population,
and 33% of all suicides. After a steady decrease from 1950-
1980 in the suicide rate of those over 65, suicide in that
age group is again on the rise. (Suicide Facts) Adolescent
suicide is also on the rise.
The suicide rate for white males ages 15-24 has tripled
since 1950, and the suicide rate for white females has more
than doubled. Suicide is the second leading cause of death
among college students, the 3rd leading cause of death among
those 15-24, and fourth leading cause among children 10-14
years old. In the past fifteen years the suicide rates for
young black males has risen by more than two-thirds. The
suicide rate for children 10-14 has more than doubled.
Another eye opening statistic is that teenage males commit
suicide more than females by a 5:1 ratio. A statistic that
truly shows that prevention is necessary is that 26-33% of
teenage suicide victims have made previous suicide attempts.
(Suicide facts) In order to prevent this, one must know what
would convince a person to take their own life.
There is not one main reason people take their lives.
They take it for many different reasons. Some are more
easily detected than others. Blocked communication is a
problem seen as a factor in suicide. Many suicide victims
feel they can not talk to anyone about their problems, or
have no one to comfort or advise them. Also many
individuals feel they can not show their anger or pain. They
keep their emotions inside and the strength of these
emotions gets built up. These individuals may have been seen
as the ?perfect? ones. They cut off their needs, emotions
and also personalities, thus cutting off their life
physiologically so death itself isn?t as scary as it may be
to others. Loss is a major factor in suicides. Whenever one
feels a loss it often leaves them feeling empty and lonely.
Loss ranges from maybe parents going back to work full time,
to divorce, to even a death of a friend or relative. When
people are put up on a pedestal by family, friends, and even
society they often have trouble coping and don?t think that
they can live up to others expectations. They feel insecure
and often alone. They often think their only escape is
suicide. (Leder) Over 60% of all people who commit suicide
suffer from major depression. Fifteen percent of the United
States population will suffer from clinical depression
sometime in their lifetime, and 30% of them will attempt
suicide, and half will succeed. Alcoholism is another major
factor in suicide. In 30% of suicides alcoholism is a
factor. Ninety-six percent of alcoholics will continue their
substance abuse until they commit suicide. Of all the
victims of suicide 60% of them will do so with a firearm.
Eighty-three percent of all gun related deaths in homes in
the United States are suicides, and often by someone other
than the gun owner. (Suicide Facts) Knowing issues that
might cause someone to contemplate suicide is just one of
the steps in identifying warning signs.
There are eight general warning signs that reflect
where trouble may be beginning in suicidal victims. A
previous suicide attempt is a definite indication that
something is wrong and could happen again. When one begins
to concentrate on thoughts of death, or begins to talk of
suicide, you may want to make sure to keep a watch on that
person. A drastic change in personality or mood could be a
sign of intense emotional pain. This is not always easy to
detect in teens as much because they are involved in such an
intense emotional change as it is. People contemplating
suicide sometimes have a major change in eating and sleeping
patterns. Maybe someone who usually stays up late may start
sleeping often or someone else doesn?t seem to be eating
much. Many suicidal people withdraw themselves from
friendships and activities. This may show that they feel
they no longer have the energy or the desire to participate.
Suicide victims are often known for taking unusual risks
before attempting suicide. This signals that he or she holds
little regard for life. Substance abuse by suicidal victims
is often a last attempt to feel good or different. And
finally ?final arrangements? are made. The giving away of
prized possessions, making a will, making peace with friends
are all sure signs that someone is planning to end their
life. (Handwerk) After detecting a friend or relative in
trouble helping them is imperative.
When someone is suicidal they often just need someone
to listen to them. Being a good listener doesn?t mean trying
to solve the person?s problem or making them get rid of
their bad feelings. The listener shouldn?t make the person
feel guilty, or that they are their own problem, or tell
them what to do. You must show you are listening by eye
contact, body language, and not pulling away. A good way to
help is by mirroring your friends feeling, by restating what
they say to you in order for them to clarify. When a friend
won?t talk to you about what is going on, try to use their
body language to make a guess on what they are thinking. An
example of this is when someone is grinding their teeth, you
may suggest ?you seem angry?. Try not to ask questions that
have yes or no answers or that may cause the person to
become defensive. Try to ask open ended question that start
with such words as where, when, who, what, which or how.
Once you?ve taken into consideration your friends nonverbal
messages and have a few good questions answered, try
exploring ways of solving your friends problem. If you
believe the situation is more than you can handle then
suggest they talk to someone else who can help them
more.(Leder) After you?ve made headway with helping your
friend make sure that you don?t give up on them, and make
sure they get help. Without the proper help they need it may
be easy for them to relapse without you even noticing. Its
always good to know you have a friend!
Prevention of suicide starts with us, the friends and
families of these victims. You must encourage these suicidal
people to talk about their problems and get help. Prevention
should also include social policy that limits access to
firearms, alcohol, as well as responsible portrayal and
coverage of suicide in the media. (Suicide Facts.) If only
other suicide victims had had someone to talk to, someone to
be their friend, then maybe the thousands that have died
would still be alive today.
Curran, D. Adolescent Suicidal Behavior. New York:
Hemisphere Publishing Corporation, 1987.
Handwerk, S., Kolehmaninen, J. Teen Suicide. Minneapolis;
Lerner Publications Company, 1986.
Leder, J. Dead Serious. New York; Atheneum, 1987.
Long, R. Suicide. New York; The H.W. Wilson Company, 1995.
San Pedro Youth Coalition (1996) n.pag, Online Internet. 15
October 1998 Available http://www.sanpedro.com/spyc/
Suicide Facts (1996) n.pag, Online Internet. 29 September
1998 Available http://www.afsp.org/suicide/suicide.html