Given the fact that this is Suicide Prevention Month, we have seen many posts on social media that aim at self-care and trivial help. However, there are very few posts that talk about the alarming numbers behind suicides all around the world. It is understandable that this is a sensitive subject. Hence many people might feel uncomfortable dealing with or being around it. However, the same goes for this article: a big trigger warning for suicide, suicide-related language, expansion on suicidal thoughts. If you think these expressions might trigger you, please refrain from reading this article.
Global Suicide Patterns
Suicide is a global phenomenon that has plagued everyone irrespective of their caste, religion, gender, economic, or social status. Often, the news of someone’s death via suicide “comes out of nowhere,” as people often say. Moreover, that is the most dangerous part. Recognizing signs of suicide is challenging, so suicide prevention is doubly hard to execute for many people.
Suicide prevention lies in the restriction of methods that cause the most amount of suicides. Recognizing a pattern in national, regional, and social areas of a country will help in implementing effective suicide prevention solutions via a broader perspective. Furthermore, this is where statistics play an essential part.
World Health Organisation (WHO) has a reasonably accurate database for the different methods of suicide across different countries. For brevity’s sake, some countries that are small with a lower annual suicide rate are excluded from this data. Several regions of Africa, due to their severe social conditions, have been excluded as well. All in all, 56 countries have contributed to the data collected by WHO. Their findings can be summarised as follows:
The most dominant method of suicide was deduced as hanging. 90% of men and 80% of women, primarily in Eastern Europe, partook in this method. Firearm suicide was the most prevalent method in the United States, which speaks for the immediate need for gun reforms.
In small urban cities like Hongkong and Luxembourg, jumping off of high-rise buildings was the preferred choice. Whereas in primarily rural areas such as countries in Latin America, suicide by pesticides was the highly recorded method.
In terms of gender, men tended to use more violent methods of ending their life, such as firearms or hanging. On the other hand, women more commonly possessed pesticides, poisons, and other drugs for ending their lives.
Here, it is vital to note that the more lethal methods used by men contribute to more completed suicides, whereas the methods implemented by women lead to more attempted suicides.
Ages Affected in India
In India, primarily, the male age-group for the maximum number of suicides was 20-29 years. For women, it was 25-29 years. These rates have been almost similar from the late 1900s to 2016. Similarly, for ages 35-70 in both genders, there has been a slight increment. However, an alarming increase has been observed in the age-group 75+.
In conclusion, older and younger age groups are of a significant risk for women, and middle age groups are mortal for men.
Reasons for Suicide
This is a tricky path to navigate, and there is no accurate data to lead us to a particular reason for a particular age group, race, religion, caste, or sexuality. Only one reason does not contribute to suicide. Generally, there are many microaggressions throughout a person’s life that may or may not lead to suicide.
Besides, the same reasons that affected person A need not be a reason for person B. For example, if person A is suffering from body dysmorphia and is bullied for being too fat or thin, it might be a factor that may contribute to their death by suicide. Person B, on the other hand, may feel upset if bullied (and rightly so), but it may not affect them to the same degree.
There are some facts out there that point to specific causes. Middle and low-income families contribute to 79% of suicidal deaths in India. Therefore, we can assume that economic factors may play a part. However, it is not an umbrella that constitutes the reason for every single person’s actions.
Professions have also aided in the reason for suicides, with student suicides increasing year after year in India. Farmer suicides also contribute to a significant percentage of deaths in India. All in all, while these are good factors to consider, they are a part of a greater perspective. They do not serve to negate or invalidate a particular person’s experience.
How Much do Statistics Matter?
It is imperative to recognize the factors that result in people ending their own lives. Since mental health is now more commonly discussed, these statistics exist for larger governmental organisations to take suicide prevention policies into more significant consideration and implement them with more accuracy according to the regional data provided. However, globally and nationally, or even regionally recorded factors do not personally speak for any individual or their journey with suicidal thoughts and suicide prevention.
These statistics exist to provide a perspective and enforce the severity of this suicide epidemic that has increasingly plagued us for decades. Please take these statistics from an objective lens. If you know anyone who is battling suicidal thoughts, please reach out to a therapist or a counsellor. Refer to suicide hotlines to get help. Moreover, please know: suicide is not an option.
Edited by: Devansh Dev