The disruption of societal structures, values, and social relationships have severely impacted health and mental illness in our generation, but suicide is not the answer.
Why is it happening ?
Suicide is not new. However, today it is the second leading cause of death for young people, thus becoming a hot topic. The trend has shown a concerning increase particularly among girls and young women, although the rates have also risen for boys and young men lately. Some theories demonstrate that this tendency is an effect of globalization; a phenomenon that has disrupted societal structures, values, cultural orientations, and social relationships, and changed conditions of population health, and mental illness across the world—particularly in the Baltic states, Southern Europe, Asia, and Anglo-Saxon countries. However, as a multidimensional and complex problem, some more specific factors must be considered, namely distress, due to emotional collapse or pressure to succeed, bullying, chronic depression, substance abuse, a friend or a relative attempting or committing suicide, rape, violent behavior, poor family relationship, unemployment, and internet influence or social media. And the latest Netflix show, 13 Reasons Why, stirring a hard debate on teen suicide, demonstrated how common the situation, described above, faced by the main character may be.
Why does it matter?
Self-induced death is without a doubt an important matter. It matters because of those who commit it and because of those related to the victims who will be deeply affected and may follow the same path without anyone even realizing it. It also matters because, as a possible effect of globalization, the cultural, and social aspects of society will continue to change and spread across the world, thus allowing the problem to become more severe. And as more suicides occur, there is a possibility of it having a domino effect, prompting those who did not even thought about taking their own life until someone close to them had done it. In the last few months newspapers have been filled by stories of teen suicides. Last week it was an 18-year-old girl who, even though perceived as a happy person, was reportedly suffering from depression. Her self-inflicted death was followed by that of her 17-year-old boyfriend who, consumed by grief, also committed suicide. Next week it could be someone close to you who you had not even suspected. Is this the path we want our generation to follow?
What can you do about it?
First of all, you should pay attention to every warning sign, symptom of depression, or drastic changes in behavior of the person next to you, including recurring fights with their parents, substance abuse, or lack of general interest. Try to talk to that person, to understand, and make sure they know you are there for them. In case you feel like that person, reach out to your friends, relatives, even help centers or hot lines. Focus on things that help you evade those bad feelings or thoughts. It is okay not to be okay. We all have problems that make us feel like we have reached rock-bottom, but things will get better. Remember that there is life beyond that moment. There are also other options if you do not want to engage directly with anyone. For instance, in the UK the Stay Alive app focuses on suicide prevention both for those at risk of suicide and for those worried about someone.
But most importantly—think about how special it is to live and about the impact a suicide has on those around you. Most people who are suicidal have both a wish to live and a wish to die. Do not allow them to take the second choice. We live in a world where getting in touch with someone has become easier than ever. Instead of using this privilege to harm others, we should use it to help each other. Let’s not allow this phenomenon to continue to grow. We can stop this. You can stop this—and the solution is as simple as a call or a hug.
Image Credit: ProDoctor
Ágata F. Swiatkiewicz briefs from Lisbon, Portugal. She is a candidate for a Master of Science in Global Cooperation and Security.