What is Suicide?

Suicide is a preventable mental health crisis. A concise definition of suicide is

"An individual who is suffering arrives at a point where they are convinced there are no resources available to resolve what pains them."  

The ‘what’ that causes pain is not finite or limited to one kind of issue, and there is no set time metric for how long someone needs to be suffering. It can be days, weeks, months, years, or decades.

Issues can result from a genetic predisposition to a mental illness. They can arise from external factors like a traumatic event, or an ongoing difficult experience.

The pain can be an entirely internal psychological experience. It can be linked to our physical well being.
It can also be a combination of multiple factors.

An individual could have experienced challenges in silence and have had no record of treatment.
Others could have had documented mental health treatments.  

Regardless of how it may be viewed externally, when suicide emerges as an option, we need to recognize that the individual is experiencing something they see as a critical disruption to their quality of life.

It’s essential to understand this, because when someone is suffering, they are dealing with a conflict influenced by many aspects. Someone who attempts or completes suicide does not intend to cause pain to others around them, but desperately seeks to resolve their own experience.

Who Is Affected

"Suicide has no prejudice. It impacts every age, ethnic, economic, geographic, and social demographic on the planet."

When comparing suicide completion and attempt rates by ethnography, age, and gender variances between them appear. Those differences are impacted by many factors, such as chosen method and access
to methods.   

It’s useful to understand these variances, but we want to avoid compartmentalizing suicide. We want to avoid creating a hierarchical view of response and prevention that minimizes and can potentially disregard individual ordeals.  

Arriving at the point of suicidal crisis can stem from many different paths, all of which share a difficulty to communicate and address the psychological impact their experience is causing in their daily lives.

As a mental health crisis, suicide is a personal experience, composed and impacted by internal thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as well as external circumstances. We move away from sectionalizing demographics because effective prevention requires a proactive communal posture.  

Effective Prevention

"Suicide is a preventable mental health crisis. 
The biggest obstacle to effective prevention is the silence of stigma."

Stigmas are made of the Things We Don’t Say about our mental health. Stigmas are generated by social and cultural factors that try to dictate how we express ourselves and compel us to hide symptoms of mental health challenges.

Based on data from the World Health Organization, the biggest obstacle to effective suicide prevention is the silence of stigma. Stigma causes individuals to hide symptoms of mental health challenges and fosters a community unprepared to effectively respond to mental health issues.  

To discard the shroud of stigma, we need to start the conversation on suicide prevention and mental health by understanding psychological injuries and illnesses are a natural part of the human experience.

This means that we, as families, friends and communities, must stop waiting for a death by suicide to impact our lives or dominate our newsfeeds to start dialogues.  

We will reduce rates by raising the visibility of resources for support and providing mental health education to equip and empower a grassroots movement of peer-to-peer proactive prevention that is a sustainable model for evolving social and institutional policies.

"We begin proactive prevention by approaching suicide within the context of a
mental health issue."

Mental health is traditionally defined as the absence of mental illness. In fact, mental health is more than just the absence of a diagnosable illness. It impacts everyone’s quality of life and includes your passions, your relationships with others and yourself, and our external and psychological experiences.

"We must approach our mental health like our physical well-being."

Consider how anyone of nearly any age would be able to self-identify a broken leg and have a general idea of what to do to address it. If you encountered someone with a broken leg, even with zero knowledge of medical treatment, you would realize they needed help and could recognize a path to assist, for example, calling 911 or reaching out to a medical professional.

This is because we invest a great deal of time formally and informally apprising others on how to address our physical health and communicate problems.

"Addressing our mental health like our physical health means raising the visibility of resources and information to assess and respond."

Mental illnesses, such as depression or bipolar disorder, can arise from genetic predispositions. They can be caused by external factors, for example, traumatic events like sexual assault, bullying, or violence. As is the case with many physical ailments, treatment and recovery are possible for mental health challenges
and disorders.

There are resources to treat and manage our mental health challenges, and we can be proactive in informing ourselves a study by the University of Texas found:

“Educating on psychological and personality development and how we can control our own emotions is the strongest pathway to resisting stigma and depressive symptoms,”

Taking care of our mental health is about embracing open expression of our responses to the things we experience in life, thereby eliminating the risk of stigma.