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Who’s more likely to commit suicide?

T. Mahmud || risingbd.com

Published: 14:57, 4 December 2021   Update: 15:50, 4 December 2021
Who’s more likely to commit suicide?

Suicide is a complicated matter. A person simply doesn’t wake up one day and decide to end his/her life. That’s not how it works. There are many factors that can lead someone to commit suicide, such as genetics, having a mental illness, and drug abuse. Which groups of people, however, are more at risk of committing this act?

Studies have shown that men are more likely to take their own lives than women. Although women are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts, men are 2-4 times more at risk of dying from suicide. The suicide rate for men was shown to be 3.5 times higher than it was for women in 2017. Men also tend to use more violent methods for killing themselves. These include sharp objects, hanging, firearms, and vehicle exhaust gas. Even if both genders use the same suicide method, attempts by men tend to be at least 60% more severe, according to statistics. Men who attempt to kill themselves and survive are more likely to receive intensive care hospitalization. 

In the United States, suicide is said to be the second leading cause of death among teenagers. More than 47,000 suicidal deaths were reported nationally in 2019, and 2,600 of them were carried out by teenagers. The majority of teenagers who attempt suicide tend to have a severe mental illness (most likely depression). These attempts may be linked with self-doubt, financial uncertainty, feeling stressed, loss, disappointment, and pressure to succeed. Some teenagers view suicide as being a solution to their problems. Risk factors associated with suicide among this group of people vary with gender, age, and social/cultural influences. They include imprisonment, exposure to suicidal behaviour of others (ex. In fictional stories or from peers), bullying, and family violence (ex. Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse).

Suicide among the elderly is an increasing phenomenon in many Latin and Asian countries, compared to Western nations such as Australia and Canada. Elderly/youth suicide ratios were reported to be as high as 8:7 in Japan, 5:9 in Singapore, and 7:3 in Hong Kong. Women inhibiting in Asian countries displayed significantly higher rates of suicide in older age compared to women from different nations. Data collected by the World Health Organisation (WHO) showed that suicide among men aged 75 and older in certain areas of mainland rural China was the highest of all nations. It’s not completely understood why these differences among countries are present. However, the epidemiological trends suggested that economic and sociocultural factors may be involved. The collapse of traditional family structures and social changes in many Latin and Asian countries, for example, may have contributed to the rise in suicidal rates among the elderly.

Cancer patients are twice more likely to commit suicide than the general population. However, this cannot be said for every one of them. Having certain types of cancer (ex. Lung and pancreatic cancer) can lead someone to be more at risk of killing him/herself. Cancer patients may even commit suicide during certain periods of their illness. Depression, having a loss of purpose, hopelessness, and a lack of social support are among the factors that could lead a cancer patient to end his/her life. Even though there are gender differences in suicide attempts among the general poulation, no significant gender differences were reported in the cancer patient population. A very high percentage of cancer patients contemplate about committing suicide, but only a few would either make an attempt or actually kill themselves.

Researchers have also found that unemployment has been linked with suicide. Suicide risk among unemployed individuals was shown to be stronger where more people had jobs and the situations of the former therefore became more unusual. This refers to those who live in countries where employment rates are high. The stress and uncertainty before losing a job can also lead someone to commit suicide. It was reported that unemployment was associated with 41,148 suicides in 2007 and 46,131 in 2009. This increase may have been due to the economic crisis that took place in 2008.

In conclusion, specific groups of people can be more vulnerable towards making suicide attempts or completing one. Men, teenagers, people from Latin or Asian backgrounds, cancer patients, and unemployed individuals were reported to be more at risk than others. Suicide is a severe public health problem that can have detrimental effects on individuals, families, and societies. It can, however, be prevented. Education about suicide (and mental health, in general), and prevention and protective strategies are needed in order to promote change in communities.

About the Author: "T. Mahmud is a rising entrepreneur whose mission is to help people thrive in their mental wellbeing and personal development. She does so through education and designing products that are related to her field. She has a bachelors degree in psychology from Simmons University (Boston, USA) and a masters degree in special and inclusive education from University College London (UCL). Contact T. Mahmud in her social media platforms (Instagram: t_mahmud_ and Facebook: T. Mahmud)."