Suicide Prevention: Methods And Relevant Factors

Suicide is not only the consequence of specific mental problems, but is associated with different global risk factors that affect a large number of people.

In this article we will analyze the most relevant factors in suicide and its preventionas well as the most common psychological intervention methods in these cases.

Relevant factors in suicide

According to data from the World Health Organization (2014), Every year more than 800 thousand people commit suicide in the world; It is the tenth cause of death worldwide. If we also add the unconsummated attempts, the number multiplies by approximately ten, and many people have recurrent suicidal thoughts that they do not manage to execute.

The most common methods of suicide vary depending on the location, but usually include asphyxiation, poisoning and, in places where these are easily accessible, the use of firearms. There is a greater risk of suicide in people over 70 years old and in those between 15 and 30; In the latter case, the richest countries are an exception.

The conception of suicide as a taboo and a crime, which is present in most cultures, has historically hindered human communication around this issue and its naturalization, and consequently also the prevention of this phenomenon. Even in the field of clinical psychology it is a delicate issue due to the frequency of complaints to professionals.

It is important to keep in mind that suicide is not simply a mental problem that arises in certain people, but there are many variables that affect the entire general population or some groups and that increase the risk of suicide, such as psychosocial stress and lack of of economic resources.

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Some of the risk factors most clearly associated with suicideaccording to the available scientific literature, are the following:

How to prevent suicide?

The traditional approach to suicide prevention has consisted of studying risk factors in order to modify them in people in whom ideas of this type are detected. However, it is not very clear that this approach is effective; In this sense, it is most likely that the necessary measures lie at a deeper level of society.

The WHO recommends that all states in the world adopt a series of suicide prevention measures, which are also relevant from a practical point of view due to the high public cost that health care can entail. At the end of this article you can find the reference to this text.

This organization also recommends strategies such as emergency hospitalization for people at high risk of suicide, treatment of problems underlying suicidal ideation, participation in support groups, and practicing psychologically beneficial activities, such as physical exercise and meditation. .

On the other hand, it is important to mention the factors that protect against suicide. In general we can highlight the following:

Psychological intervention methods

Among all psychological intervention programs, the one that stands out the most for its effectiveness in preventing suicide is the one developed by Marsha Linehan for borderline personality disorder. The research reveals a reduction in suicide attempts and hospitalizations in people treated with this method.

Approximately Half of people who commit suicide meet criteria for major depressive disorder. In this sense, cognitive therapy and behavioral activation therapy, which is derived from the previous one, have been shown to be useful in reducing suicidal ideation and other depressive symptoms.

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From the field of health psychology, mainly in collaboration with public entities, psychoeducational tasks and emotional or social support are sometimes promoted, and some screening tests are also administered to at-risk populations, such as adolescents. However, these types of interventions are quite rare in many places.

More generally, it is important to note that Suicide is mainly associated with a low quality of life. Any policy measure that improves the satisfaction and well-being of people in a place will reduce their risk of suicide, such as improving access to health services or increasing average wages.