Suicide is still a hidden or taboo topic. Denial, secrecy and avoidance remain common.
A major obstacle to effective suicidal prevention is the stigma associated with and surrounding suicide. There is a great need to change public attitudes, and increase awareness and understanding about suicide as a major public health problem that is largely preventable.
Serious talk about suicide does not create or increase risk, it reduces it. The best way to identify the possibility of suicide is to ask directly. Open talk and genuine concern about someone's thoughts of suicide are a source of relief for them and are often they key elements in preventing the immediate danger of suicide.
About 200 people a year take their own lives in Northern Ireland. Suicide isn't usually a one-off action. Instead, it comes at the end of a process during which the individual loses contact with the support of friends and society.
Why does somebody kill themselves? There is rarely a single cause of suicide. Usually, a number of features come together at a critical time.
* the individual's personality
* their normal response to stresses
* the presence or absence of mental illness (depression, schizophrenia)
* their use of alcohol and other drugs
* access to a method of suicide
Life events are important – a vulnerable man who has lost his father and job, and then 'loses' his daughter to emigration within a matter of weeks, will be more at risk than if those things had happened over a longer period.
Who is most at risk?
Those at greatest risk are:
* older men
* unmarried men with poor social and economic status
* men with recent life stresses
* men with weak social networks
Almost all elderly victims of suicide have physical diseases, and many have made previous attempts.
YOUNG MALE SUICIDES
There has been a recent increase in the number of suicides by young men for no obvious reason. A lot of work has gone in to trying to prevent this loss of life. However, as suicide has no one cause but many contributing factors, no one approach can resolve the problem.
But helping the suicidal person early on is more important than just reacting to a suicide attempt.