The Suicide Menace

Samuel Smith


In a world that is fast approaching its climactic end, several ideations have crept into the minds of mortal man. Among these is the thought inclined to commit suicide. This piece of writing will assess this canker that is mostly committed by people who have lost hope in life.

According to the American Writer Philip John Donahue, "Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem." Problems are inevitable in this sin-stricken age of moral degeneration. However, of the several ways of dealing with problems suicide is never one of them.

Jeannette Wall, the American Journalist puts it succinctly, "When people kill themselves, they think they're ending the pain, but all they're doing is passing it on to those they leave behind."

Suicide -- The Definition

According to the National Institute of Mental Health in America, "Suicide is when people direct violence at themselves with the intent to end their lives, and they die because of their actions…. A Suicide attempt is when people harm themselves with the intent to end their lives but they do not die because of their actions…. Suicide does not discriminate. People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk."

Suicide -- The Statistics

From the World Health Organization (WHO) we obtain the following data on suicide: "Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. Suicide is a global phenomenon. Suicide accounted for 1.4% of all deaths worldwide, making it the 18th leading cause of death in 2016. Effective and evidence-based interventions can be implemented at population, sub-population and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts. There are indications that for each adult who died by suicide there may have been more than 20 others attempting suicide…. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally."

Suicide -- The Risk Factors

According to the National Institute of Mental Health in America, the main risk factors for suicide are:

1. A prior suicide attempt

2. Depression and other mental health disorders

3. Substance abuse disorder

4. Family history of a mental health or substance abuse disorder

5. Family history of suicide

6. Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse

7. Having guns or other firearms in the home

8. Being in prison or jail

9. Being exposed to others’ suicidal behavior, such as a family member, peer, or media figure

10. Medical illness

11. Being between the ages of 15 and 24 years or over age of 60

It is however important to note that not all people who are categorized as being at risk for suicide end up committing suicide. Also, there are others who are not tagged as being at risk of committing suicide (i.e. out of this category) but may end up committing this heartbreaking act. Humans are complex organisms difficult to understand and very unpredictable and as such should be observed with the strictest scrutiny. There are several signs that should blow the alarm for the possibility of one committing suicide. According to the National Institute of Mental Health in America, the following are some WARNING SIGNS that we should not ignore:

1. Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves

2. Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live

3. Planning or looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online, stockpiling pills, or newly acquiring potentially lethal items (e.g., firearms, ropes)

4. Talking about great guilt or shame

5. Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions

6. Feeling unbearable pain, both physical or emotional

7. Talking about being a burden to others

8. Using alcohol or drugs more often

9. Acting anxious or agitated

10. Withdrawing from family and friends

11. Changing eating and/or sleeping habits

12. Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

13. Taking risks that could lead to death, such as reckless driving

14. Talking or thinking about death often

15. Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy

16. Giving away important possessions

17. Saying goodbye to friends and family

18. Putting affairs in order, making a will

Helping People with Suicidal Ideations

Having the thoughts of suicide does not mean that one has a defect in character but this simply means the pain threshold of an individual has been exceeded and he / she feels that there is no other solution rather than to break the sixth commandment --- "Thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13). Helping people with suicidal thoughts involve a multi-disciplinary approach involving the mental health therapist, a psychologist, a religious leader, a doctor and other members from the family of the presumed victim who are reliable.

Tiffaine DeBartolo, the American novelist writes, "Did you really want to die? No one commits suicide because they want to die. Then why do they do it? Because they want to stop the pain." But the million dollar question is, "does it put an end to the pain?" Remember, if you kill yourself, you're also going to kill the people who love you.

Humans should remember the unfathomable and unconditional love of the Creator. He has given humans the assurance of his enduring presence until life is no more. This should in and of itself dispel any thoughts on suicide. God has assured us through His prophet Isaiah by these sobering words, "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour... Since thou wast precious in my sight..." (Isaiah 43:2-4, KJV).

It is important to remember that no matter the pain you are experiencing at the moment, it is encouraging to learn that the people you so much admire in life, and aspire to be like them have passed through similar difficulties yet did not give up. It takes real courage to face death, and step back from the brink. Perhaps, if the Leader of the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King Jnr. is a role model to you, then I should say categorically that he attempted suicide at the ripe age of 12. That is to say that you are not alone. Luther King survived, and he made history. You can survive too! For God has amazing plans for your life (see Jeremiah 29:11).

Experts such as Jaelline Jaffe, Ph.D., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., recommend that if you entertain continuous thoughts of committing suicide, you must take keen interest in doing the following:

a) Talk with someone every day, preferably face to face. Though you feel like withdrawing, ask trusted friends and acquaintances to spend time with you. Talk about your feelings.

b) Make a safety plan. Develop a set of steps that you can follow during a suicidal crisis. It should include contact numbers for your doctor or therapist, as well as friends and family members who will help in an emergency.

c) Make a written schedule for yourself every day and stick to it, no matter what. Keep a regular routine as much as possible, even when your feelings seem out of control.

d) Get out in the sun or into nature for at least 30 minutes a day.

e) Exercise as vigorously as is safe for you. To get the most benefit, aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day. But you can start small. Three 10-minute bursts of activity can have a positive effect on mood.

f) Make time for things that bring you joy. Even if very few things bring you pleasure at the moment, force yourself to do the things you used to enjoy.

g) Remember your personal goals and pursue them. You may have always wanted to travel to a particular place, read a specific book, own a pet, move to another place, learn a new hobby, volunteer, go back to school, or start a family. Write your personal goals down.

According to Jaelline Jaffe, Ph.D., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., one will have to avoid the following in order to prevent re-occurrence of suicidal thoughts:

i) Being alone. Solitude can make suicidal thoughts even worse. Visit a friend, or family member, or pick up the phone and call a crisis helpline.

ii) Alcohol and drugs. Drugs and alcohol can increase depression, hamper your problem-solving ability, and can make you act impulsively.

iii) Doing things that make you feel worse. Listening to sad music, looking at certain photographs, reading old letters, or visiting a loved one’s grave can all increase negative feelings.

iv) Thinking about suicide and other negative thoughts. Try not to become preoccupied with suicidal thoughts as this can make them even stronger. Don’t think and rethink negative thoughts. Find a distraction. Giving yourself a break from suicidal thoughts can help, even if it’s for a short time.

According to the Holy Scriptures, no human being has the fundamental right to end another person’s life, which includes that of his or her own (see Exodus 20:13). To die by suicide is to reject the loving kindness of God (see Jeremiah 31:3), and the joys of a brand new world where there will be no sin, misery, pain and death (see Revelation 21:1-4). Please don’t follow the condemned path of cowards such as Ahithophel (see 2 Samuel 17:23), Judas (see Matthew 27:3-5) and millions of others who took the path of suicide when a better alternative with life and hope was available. You might think there is no way around your terrible situation today. But just live for today, tomorrow, and the days ahead, and you will come to realise how killing yourself wasn’t the answer after all. Among all the strategies enumerated above to help you to deal with suicide, please note that none is more potent than a solid faith in God. Faith in the Creator God will help you to surmount all obstacles in life. If you do not know this God or if you have lost trust in Him, begin to seek Him. The Scriptures says concerning this point: "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). Begin to seek God today. Pray to Him, study the Scriptures, join in fellowship with God’s children; and the peace of God which passeth all understanding will flood your soul. Begin to live today; for death is not your portion in Christ Jesus our Lord. Blessings!

Selected References






Jude Adjei Asamoah and Samuel Nyarko