Suicide is an intentional cause of death to oneself. Suicide, more often than not, are committed out of despair, usually due to a mental disorder (Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Alcoholism, and Drug Abuse), or Financial difficulties or troubles with interpersonal relationships often play a significant role.
Views on suicide have been influenced by broader cultural views on existential themes such as religion, honor, and the meaning of life. The Abrahamic religions traditionally consider suicide an offense towards God due to the belief in the sanctity of life. It was often regarded as a serious crime and that view remains commonplace in modern Western thought. However, before the rise of Christianity, suicide was not seen as automatically immoral in ancient Greek and Roman culture. Conversely, during the samurai era in Japan, seppuku was respected as a means of atonement for failure or as a form of protest. Sati is a Hindu funeral practice, now outlawed, in which the widow was expected to immolate herself on her husband's funeral pyre, either willingly or under pressure from the family and society. In the 20th and 21st centuries, suicide in the form of self-immolation has been used as a medium of protest, and the form of kamikaze and suicide bombings as a military or terrorist tactic.
Medically assisted suicide (euthanasia or the right to die) is a controversial issue in modern ethics. The defining characteristic is the focus on people who are terminally ill, in extreme pain, or possessing (actual or perceived) minimal quality of life resulting from an injury or illness.
Self-sacrifice on behalf of another is not necessarily considered suicide; the subjective goal is not to end one's own life, but rather to save the life of another. However, in Émile Durkheim's theory, such acts are termed "altruistic suicide."
In most forms of Christianity, suicide is considered a sin, based mainly on the writings of influential Christian thinkers of the Middle Ages, such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas; suicide was not considered a sin under the Byzantine Christian code of Justinian, for instance. In Catholic doctrine, the argument is based on the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" (made applicable under the New Covenant by Jesus in Matthew 19:18), as well as the idea that life is a gift given by God which should not be spurned, and that suicide is against the "natural order" and thus interferes with God's master plan for the world. However, it is believed that mental illness or grave fear of suffering diminishes the responsibility of the one completing suicide. Counter-arguments include the following: that the sixth commandment is more accurately translated as "thou shalt not murder", not necessarily applying to the self; that God has given free will to humans; that taking one's own life no more violates God's Law than does curing a disease; and that a number of suicides by followers of God are recorded in the Bible with no dire condemnation.
Judaism focuses on the importance of valuing this life, and as such, suicide is tantamount to denying God's goodness in the world. Despite this, under extreme circumstances when there has seemed no choice but to either be killed or forced to betray their religion, Jews have committed individual suicide or mass suicide and as a grim reminder there is even a prayer in the Jewish liturgy for "when the knife is at the throat", for those dying "to sanctify God's Name". These acts have received mixed responses by Jewish authorities, regarded both as examples of heroic martyrdom, whilst others state that it was wrong for them to take their own lives in anticipation of martyrdom.
In Hinduism, suicide is generally frowned upon and is considered equally sinful as murdering another in contemporary Hindu society. Hindu Scriptures state that one who commits suicide will become part of the spirit world, wandering earth until the time one would have otherwise died, had one not committed suicide. However, Hinduism accepts a man's right to end one's life through the non-violent practice of fasting to death, termed Prayopavesa. But Prayopavesa is strictly restricted to people who have no desire or ambition left, and no responsibilities remaining in this life. Jainism has a similar practice named Santhara. Sati or self-immolation by widows was prevalent in Hindu society during the Middle Ages.
Some see suicide as a legitimate matter of personal choice and a human right (colloquially known as the right to die movement). Supporters of this position maintain that no one should be forced to suffer against their will, particularly from conditions such as incurable disease, mental illness, and old age that have no possibility of improvement. Proponents of this view reject the belief that suicide is always irrational, arguing instead that it can be a valid last resort for those enduring major pain or trauma. This perspective is most popular and has a good deal of support in continental Europe, where euthanasia and other such topics are commonly discussed in parliament.
Some landmarks have become known for high levels of suicide attempts. The four most popular locations in the world are reportedly San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, Toronto's Bloor Street Viaduct, Japan's Aokigahara Forest and England's Beachy Head. In 2005 the Golden Gate Bridge had a count exceeding 1,200 jumpers since its construction in 1937. In 1997 the Bloor Street Viaduct had one suicide every 22 days, and in 2002 Aokigahara had a record of 78 bodies found within the forest, replacing the previous record of 73 in 1998. The suicide rate of these places is so high that numerous signs, urging potential victims of suicide to seek help, have been posted.
Because suicide was a crime in various countries, including in England and Wales which decriminalized it in 1961, the word 'commit' has traditionally been used in reference to it. Organizations such as the BBC and the Samaritans have stopped using this word because of its negative connotation. 'Attempt' suicide or other phrases are preferred. The Guardian and The Observer also avoid the phrase, preferring the use of "killed him or herself".
Visit Suicide.org to see our statistics and other countries statistics for suicide and death rates from suicide.
But here are a few statistics to give you a tiny bit of insight (these are from different years, recent but not too recent).
1. Firearms are, by far, the most common method for suicide (55% of all suicides are completed with a firearm).
2. Hanging or suffocation is used in about one out of five suicides, which is why you can never leave an acutely suicidal person alone for a second. People who have died by hanging have used virtually every conceivable thing to hang themselves with, including shoe laces, electric cords, belts, bed sheets, etc.
3. On average, one suicide occurs every 17 minutes.
4. 73% of all suicide deaths are white males.
Political views on suicide from the book Suicide by current controversies.
“critics point out that Oregon’s assisted suicide law was twice endorsed by voters in statewide referendums. When then [U.S.] Attorney General John Ashcroft declared the use of federally controlled substances in assisted suicide violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act and not a “legitimate medical purpose,” he was violating principles of states’ rights and democracy, they say. “ (Christianity Today, Suicide)
Warning signs of suicideEdit
Most suicidal individuals give warning signs or signals of their intentions. The best way to prevent suicide is to recognize these warning signs and know how to respond if you spot them. If you believe that a friend or family member is suicidal, you can play a role in suicide prevention by pointing out the alternatives, showing that you care, and getting a doctor or psychologist involved.
Major warning signs for suicide include talking about killing or harming oneself, talking or writing a lot about death or dying, and seeking out things that could be used in a suicide attempt, such as weapons and drugs. These signals are even more dangerous if the person has a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder, suffers from alcohol dependence, has previously attempted suicide, or has a family history of suicide.
A more subtle but equally dangerous warning sign of suicide is hopelessness. Studies have found that hopelessness is a strong predictor of suicide. People who feel hopeless may talk about "unbearable" feelings, predict a bleak future, and state that they have nothing to look forward to.
Other warning signs that point to a suicidal mind frame include dramatic mood swings or sudden personality changes, such as going from outgoing to withdrawn or well-behaved to rebellious. A suicidal person may also lose interest in day-to-day activities, neglect his or her appearance, and show big changes in eating or sleeping habits.
Level of Suicide RiskEdit
Low — some suicidal thoughts. No suicide plan. Says he or she won't commit suicide. Moderate — Suicidal thoughts. Vague plan that isn't very lethal. Says he or she won't commit suicide.
High — Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she won't commit suicide. Severe — Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she will commit suicide.
When talking to a suicidal personEdit
Be yourself. Let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone. The right words are often unimportant. If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it.
Listen. Let the suicidal person unload despair, ventilate anger. No matter how negative the conversation seems, the fact that it exists is a positive sign.
Be sympathetic, non-judgmental, patient, calm, accepting. Your friend or family member is doing the right thing by talking about his/her feelings.
Offer hope. Reassure the person that help is available and that the suicidal feelings are temporary. Let the person know that his or her life is important to you.
If the person says things like, “I’m so depressed, I can’t go on,” ask the question: “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” You are not putting ideas in their head; you are showing that you are concerned, that you take them seriously, and that it’s OK for them to share their pain with you.
Argue with the suicidal person. Avoid saying things like: "You have so much to live for," "Your suicide will hurt your family," or “Look on the bright side.”
Act shocked, lecture on the value of life, or say that suicide is wrong.
Promise confidentiality. Refuse to be sworn to secrecy. A life is at stake and you may need to speak to a mental health professional in order to keep the suicidal person safe. If you promise to keep your discussions secret, you may have to break your word.
Offer ways to fix their problems, or give advice, or make them feel like they have to justify their suicidal feelings. It is not about how bad the problem is, but how badly it’s hurting your friend or loved one.
Blame yourself. You can’t “fix” someone’s depression. Your loved one’s happiness, or lack thereof, is not your responsibility.