Can Stressful Life Events Lead to Suicide?

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It is a common misconception that there are certain events that cause an individual to take his or her own life. However, the decision to attempt suicide is often affected by a number of factors. Most people already have the predisposition to suicide even before the event occurs in their lives. It is their inability to cope with these events that lead to suicide. Events that lead to suicide are called triggering events. They contribute to the suicide but they are not the cause.

Triggering events

These are events that are accompanied by drastic changes in the person’s life, events that are characterized by trauma or loss, failure in marriages, in career or in money, or the absence of motivators in one’s life. Although not an event, clinical depression can also lead to suicide. Depression, the leading cause of suicide, also often comes after triggering events occur.

Trauma

A disabling injury from an accident or the ravages of a disease can give rise to feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, and uselessness in some individuals.

Loss

Loss of a loved one through death, moving to another location, or the failure of a marriage can lead to feelings of depression. Some people are not always ready to deal with drastic and negative changes in their lives. The loss of a job can also give rise to the same feelings.

Failure

Failing to pass an exam or make good grades is one of most common causes of suicide in Japanese children. Fear of ridicule and shame of not reaching a particular goal especially if expectations are large may lead some to consider suicide.

Suicide Prevention

Monitoring is the most important way to prevent depression. People who are prone to depression should be monitored after a stressful event. Changes in demeanour or in everyday activities, the lack of a motivation to resume normal living patterns or a change in how the person cares for himself or herself are all signs that point to depression. Some people often send cues that they are thinking about suicide and all these signals should be taken seriously. Listen to a person if he or she starts talking about suicide and refer him or her to a psychologist or a psychiatrist for treatment. Continuing treatment and monitoring is required for people who are thinking about suicide especially who have attempted suicide once before.

How to talk to someone who is thinking about suicide

There are cases when a friend or family member talks about attempting suicide. In some cases, this may be delivered in a flippant, nonchalant way but all verbal indications of suicide should be taken seriously. Sit the person down when this happens and listen to him or her. Experts advise asking open-ended questions to allow the person to elaborate. It is also important to tell the person why she or he is important to you. Depressed people often feel that their life is meaningless. Let the person know how important his or her life is to you, and how his or her life brings meaning to your life. Avoid being critical. Saying things like “I don’t like it when you talk like that” shuts down the conversation and prevents you from hearing out what the person wants to say. And never give the person other options for suicide.

Contact the team at Insight Psychological to learn more about how you can help yourself or someone you know struggling with thoughts of suicide.