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Suicide Attempts, Stigma, and Triggers

Revathi Raghavan

According to the WHO, an average of 800,000 commit suicide every year. That is around one person every 40 seconds. Keep in mind that this data rests on reported cases and does not even account for unreported cases. Which brings up the question of why cases remain unreported? Why does every aspect of suicide remain a taboo even though the number is sky-high? Even though statistics demand conversation, discussion and treatment?

Past hypotheses about suicide have zeroed in exclusively on two incredibly narrow variables that lead to an ineffective study and assessment of suicide and its psychological impacts. The first factor is that the focus has always been solely on successful suicide attempts. The second variable refers to an increased focus on people who are most likely to commit suicide and deduction of early warning signs. These speculations don't address what occurs after a nonlethal endeavour happens. In fact, a past nonfatal suicide attempt one of the most dependable indicators of future suicide attempts.

What the general public fails to understand is that even if you are not a statistic of suicide, you are still a victim.

Primarily we should take a look at the various psychological impacts that accompany a suicide attempt. These include:

  1. Prominent feelings of shame- This can include overwhelming amounts of categorized overtaking and even lead to spirals which result in an amplification of the rate at which depression develops.

  2. Increased feelings of guilt - The process of having to face family and friends after a suicide attempt can lead to excessive emotional burden regarding having to deal with consequences. This entire process can prove to be exhausting and can contribute to feelings of shame and humiliation.

  3. Feelings of failure - After a suicide attempt, it is very common to have feelings of failure after the act does not result in eventual death. This also contributes very heavily to the development of depression and grief.

  4. Impaired communication skills - Following a suicide attempt, victims may find themselves unable to express emotions clearly and connect with others. This stems from an impaired sense of well-being.

A suicide attempt is usually followed by increased stigmatization by society and community. This not only fuels the above mentioned psychological impacts but can also lead to a victim feeling overly compelled to commit the act again. By discouraging support and communication, an environment of victim-blaming and shunning is created instead. The effects of this stigmatization are further highlighted by increased rates of suicide attempts by suicide survivors. This indicates a direct correlation between psychological treatment post suicide attempts - and recurring suicides, thereby pointing towards stigma from society as a trigger.

This stigma that surrounds suicide affects an individual's ability to ask for help; it further discourages a survivor from seeking psychological attention out of fear or embarrassment.

Some ways by which this stigma is further emphasized is by :


  1. Avoidance of the topic of suicide- Lack of discussion or addressing of the issue.

  2. Trivializing the incident - Calling it an error in judgment; painting it out to be a moment of weakness.

  3. Stigmatizing the entire concept of mental health - by an overt focus on "painting a pretty picture", The burial or repression of expression of emotions, especially negative ones

  4. Dismissive attitudes towards individuals who proceed to seek mental health advice- the stigma surrounding therapy

This further acts as a barricade towards recovery and healing.

It is integral that we provide a safe and comforting environment to address the psychological impacts of suicide attempts because in doing so, we decrease the event of recurring suicide attempts by suicide survivors. This stigma can only be alleviated by discussion, support and change. By advertising mental health call lines and introducing the importance of mental health as a subject in educational institutions and awareness drives, we can begin to deconstruct the stigma and the taboo atmosphere that surrounds this entire topic.

With specific reference to suicide survivors, it is absolutely integral that they are perceived as victims rather than just people who managed to survive the act of suicide. By doing so, we convey the message that survival does not necessarily mean invincibility.





Slides:


  1. Suicide Attempts and Stigma

  • (graphic)


  1. According to the WHO, an average of 800,000 commit suicide every year. That is around one person every 40 seconds. Keep in mind that this data rests on reported cases and does not even account for unreported cases. Which brings up the question of why cases remain unreported? Why does every aspect of suicide remain a taboo even though the number is sky-high? Even though statistics demand conversation, discussion and treatment?


  1. Past hypotheses about suicide have zeroed in exclusively on two incredibly narrow variables that lead to an ineffective study and assessment of suicide and its psychological impacts. The first factor is that the focus has always been solely on successful suicide attempts. The second variable refers to an increased focus on people who are most likely to commit suicide and deduction of early warning signs. These speculations don't address what occurs after a nonlethal endeavour happens. In fact, a past nonfatal suicide attempt one of the most dependable indicators of future suicide attempts.


  1. What the general public fails to understand is that even if you are not a statistic of suicide, you are still a victim. Primarily we should take a look at the various psychological impacts that accompany a suicide attempt. These include:

  2. Prominent feelings of shame- This can include overwhelming amounts of categorized overtaking and even lead to spirals which result in an amplification of the rate at which depression develops.

  3. Increased feelings of guilt - The process of having to face family and friends after a suicide attempt can lead to excessive emotional burden regarding having to deal with consequences. This entire process can prove to be exhausting and can contribute to feelings of shame and humiliation.

  4. Feelings of failure - After a suicide attempt, it is very common to have feelings of failure after the act does not result in eventual death. This also contributes very heavily to the development of depression and grief.

  5. Impaired communication skills - Following a suicide attempt, victims may find themselves unable to express emotions clearly and connect with others. This stems from an impaired sense of well-being.


  1. A suicide attempt is usually followed by increased stigmatization by society and community. This not only fuels the above mentioned psychological impacts but can also lead to a victim feeling overly compelled to commit the act again. By discouraging support and communication, an environment of victim-blaming and shunning is created instead. The effects of this stigmatization are further highlighted by increased rates of suicide attempts by suicide survivors. This stigma that surrounds suicide affects an individual's ability to ask for help; it further discourages a survivor from seeking psychological attention out of fear or embarrassment.


  1. Some ways by which this stigma is further emphasized is by :

  2. Avoidance of the topic of suicide- Lack of discussion or addressing of the issue.

  3. Trivializing the incident - Calling it an error in judgment; painting it out to be a moment of weakness.

  4. Stigmatizing the entire concept of mental health - by an overt focus on "painting a pretty picture", The burial or repression of expression of emotions, especially negative ones

  5. Dismissive attitudes towards individuals who proceed to seek mental health advice- the stigma surrounding therapy


  1. It is integral that we provide a safe and comforting environment to address the psychological impacts of suicide attempts because in doing so, we decrease the event of recurring suicide attempts by suicide survivors. This stigma can only be alleviated by discussion, support and change. By advertising mental health call lines and introducing the importance of mental health as a subject in educational institutions and awareness drives, we can begin to deconstruct the stigma and the taboo atmosphere that surrounds this entire topic.


  1. With specific reference to suicide survivors, it is absolutely integral that they are perceived as victims rather than just people who managed to survive the act of suicide. By doing so, we convey the message that survival does not necessarily mean invincibility.

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