To the question, “Why do adults commit suicide?”, many people will probably offer depression as the most likely reason. Yes, most people who commit suicide are depressed. The highest incidence of suicide in adults occurs in people whose depression is accompanied by two other factors: a loss of pleasure or interest in activities and a pervasive feeling of hopelessness.
Additionally, people who are older, single, or widowed or divorced are more prone to committing suicide; those who are addicted to alcohol or drugs or are suffering from a psychotic disorder (such as schizophrenia) are at even higher risk. Being homeless also adds to the likelihood of some adults resorting to suicide. More men tend to commit suicide than do women, and this fact applies to all age groups.
Indeed, suicide in teens is not improbable either, with male teens more likely to commit suicide than their female counterparts. The complexity and stress of modern life are often the leading factors in such incidence; the pressure to achieve and unemployment are two specific examples. In some cases, the actual commission of suicide in teens follows some emotional loss, such as the separation of one’s parents or a breakup in one’s relationship with his girlfriend (or her boyfriend).
Some of the warning signs include decline in schoolwork, neglect of personal appearance, weariness and restlessness, radical changes in eating and sleeping habits, rebellious behavior, and withdrawal from family, friends, and regular activities. The intention of a teenager to commit suicide may become obvious with such utterance as, “They won’t be having any problem with me soon.” In other instances, some teenagers may telegraph what they intend to do by giving away possessions they have been holding dear.
A suicide threat should be taken seriously; the greatest mistake in dealing with such a case is to assume that the disturbed individual does not mean what he says. Try to be a patient listener and allow the individual to talk and express his feelings. His anxiety may be greatly lessened if things are brought out in the open. In this way, the individual will sense the support of the listener and will realize that there is someone who sincerely cares for him.
On the other hand, consoling the family and friends of a suicide victim is difficult. This is because, apart from grief, there is a natural indignation at the suicide victim for having taken his life, and feelings of culpability for failing to recognize the magnitude of the person’s utter hopelessness.
1. “Suicide Prevention: Understanding and Helping a Suicidal Person”, on Healthyguide (online) – http://www.helpguide.org/mental/suicide_prevention.htm
2. “Older Adults: Depression and Suicide Facts (Fact Sheet)”, on NIMH – National Institute of Mental Health (online) – http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/older-adults-depression-and-suicide-facts-fact-sheet/index.shtml