Suicide is when an individual purposefully takes their own life. It is normally characterized by depressive moods, feeling worthless and helpless, and feeling as if nothing will get better. Often the person is experiencing a mental disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and substance abuse disorders which causes them to have these feelings. Other reasons for committing suicide could include financial problems, family and marital issues, or loss of a loved one.
According to Statistics Canada, suicide is most prevalent in those aged 40-59¹, although suicide is also very common in teenagers and the elderly due to the experience of dramatic life changes like entering college or retirement. Furthermore, most attempted suicides are by women while most completed suicides are by men². As the map below shows, suicide rates can vary based on region, which may be related to cultural differences, political differences, and the overall health and wellbeing of people from different countries. For example, suicide is more common for First Nations and Inuit people in Canada, possibly due to harsh economic conditions, lack of health and preventative services, and drug use.
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Some signs and symptoms of suicide include sudden changes in appearance, weight, or appetite. Emotional symptoms may include hopelessness, loss of enjoyment in things they once enjoyed, and personality changes, while some behavioral symptoms could be use of drugs or increased use of drugs, withdrawing from loved ones, and putting their affairs in order (i.e. giving their possessions away).
If a suicide attempt is unsuccessful or prevented, treatment can include psychotherapy to discuss the instigating problems and discover a way to cope and reduce these problems. In the case of a co-existing mental disorder, therapies and drug treatments specific to that disorder can be used in order to reduce the suicidal thoughts. If the suicide is due to excruiciating pain or symptoms from a physical disorder, medical techniques may also be used to reduce the cause of the suicidal thoughts. In all cases, a strong support system for the individual would be essential to promote their overall health and well-being.
1. Statistics Canada (2012). Suicides, and suicide rate by sex and by age group. [ONLINE] Available at: www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/hlth66d-eng.htm. [Last Accessed 9.12.2013].