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Suicide Causes

Suicide is rarely a result of a single cause. Suicide most often occurs when multiple life stressors, such as personal, political, social, economic, existential, environmental, biological factors co-exist to create feelings of hopelessness. It is difficult to predict the exact cause of suicide, however, one can save lives by learning about risk factors and warning signs of suicide.

Mental

(depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, PTSD, BPD)

Social & Cultural

(social isolation, cultural values, barriers to health care, neglect, rural vs urban, socio-economic status, stigma)

Environmental

(access to lethal means, extreme climatic conditions, COVID-19, war, abuse: physical, sexual, emotional, and exposure to suicide)

Lifestyle

(alcohol and drug abuse, lack of sleep, previous suicide attempt, body image issues)

Physical

(cancer, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease, traumatic brain injury, sleep disorders, reduced serotonin levels)

Precipitating

Sudden distressing events (like conflicts, death, etc.) that trigger suicidal behavior. Percipitating factors & risk factors often co-occur to increase the risk of suicide.

Warning Signs

Increased awareness about suicide and it’s warning signs is the first step towards reducing the stigma behind it, shifting the blame away from the individual and preventing suicide.

Verbal Cues

If the person talks about:

Wanting to die or kill themself
Experiencing unbearable pain
Seeking revenge
Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness and perceived burdensomeness

They may refer to it indirectly and say things like:

“If _____ does/ not happen, I’ll kill myself.”
“I’m tired of life, I just can’t go on.”
“My family would be better off without me.”
“I won’t be around much longer.”
“Pretty soon you won’t have to worry about me.”

Behavioural Cues

If their behaviour signals:

Any previous suicide attempt
Drug/alcohol abuse, or relapse after a period of recover
Sleeping too much or too little
Isolating from friends and family
Stockpiling pills/ poison (everyday use lethal means)
Co-occurring depression, mood disorder
Unexplained anger, aggression and irritability
Putting personal affairs in order
Giving away prized possessions
Sudden interest or disinterest in religion

Emotional Cues

If they show:

Sudden mood swings
Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness and perceived burdensomeness
Feelings of shame/ humiliation, guilt
Feeling trapped/ thwarted
Unexplained anger, aggression, irritability or relief
Stress, anxiety and restlessness
Depression/low moods
Loss of interest
Dissociation/cognitive dissonance

Protective Factors

While there are many factors that influence a person’s chance of developing suicidal ideations, and there are also many factors that offer a safety net to protect them from suicide. These are called Protective Factors - personal and environmental characteristics that reduce the risk of suicide. Some of them are a result of the environment, or come naturally to the individual while some can be cultivated regardless of age, sex, gender and cultural diversity.

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Sobriety
Social connectedness to friends and family
Life skills and building emotional resilience
Self-esteem and a sense of purpose/meaning in life
Cultural, religious, or personal beliefs that discourage suicide
Access to mental health services
Limited access to lethal means

Suicide Prevention seeks to reduce risk factors and increase protective factors. Reducing risk factors may not always be easy as some are a result of deeper cultural, societal and systemic issues. Hence, it is vital that we work towards fostering protective factors that act as a barrier against suicide.

Become a Mental Health Advocate

Educate yourself about suicide and mental health or support the cause so you can help us spread awareness and save lives.

Seek Help
Suicide Prevention India Foundation is NOT a suicide crisis helpline. The content has been written by mental health experts but is not a substitute for medical advice. Use all resources at your discretion.
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I am FEELING SUICIDAL
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