Understanding Suicidal Behaviour: Risk and Protective Factors

Every fourty seconds, one person commits suicide in South Africa (South African Depression and Anxiety Group, 2020). According to the World Health Organisation, 800 000 people commit suicide every year. 

Suicide is defined as an act of injury to oneself resulting in intentional death. A suicide attempt is when an individual injures or harms him or herself with the intention to die, however, they do not die as a result of a failed suicide attempt (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). 

No Random Act

Suicide is no random act; it may present as a solution to a problem an individual may be experiencing or something that is seen as the only option or way out, as a result of the circumstances or emotions that an individual goes through (Yang et al., 1992). 

Despite what we may think, suicide does not discriminate either, it affects people of all ages. SADAG (2020) identifies some common myths of suicide which include:

  1. Suicide is always an impulsive act
  2. Suicide is caused by stress
  3. People who commit suicide are selfish and weak

We need to combat these myths which increase the stigma related to suicide. In order for us to understand suicide, it is imperative that we identify risk factors as well as protective factors of suicide (CDC, 2021).

Factors That Increase The Risk For Suicide

There are many factors which may increase the risk for suicide and these include:

  1. Risk types:
  2. Feelings of hopelessness
  3. Abuse and trauma
  4. Bullying
  5. Loss of a loved one
  6. Depression

There are numerous factors that may decrease the risk of suicide and these are:

  1. Protective factors
  2. Social support
  3. Seeking professional assistance
  4. Access to healthcare
  5. Life skills
  6. Self-esteem

In Conclusion

Let’s spread the word and bring awareness to this important issue. Share this post among friends, family and your community. By informing ourselves and bringing awareness we can #beatthestigma and reduce the statistics.

For more information please visit https://www.sprc.org/about-suicide/risk-protective-factors

And, remember that September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day!

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