Mental health continues to break records in our country, but unfortunately not in a positive sense. Quite the contrary, different surveys and studies throw us into a painful and worrying reality, that of those who, faced with extreme suffering, decide to take their own lives.
The increase of 1.6% with respect to the previous year in global data rises if we talk about children under fifteen years of age, where it doubles. The fact that more children under the age of 15 have died from this cause has once again set off the alarm bells for medical professionals, parents and educators.
The impact of COVID and exposure to social networks
In this case, we are not only facing an escalation in recent years in suicides but also in clinical symptoms. There are two risk factors that are having an impact and they are the emotional consequences of the impact of COVID and exposure to social networks. Given this new scenario, the data reflects the need to spare no resources and achieve a National Suicide Prevention Plan.
Specialists, who have been defending the periodicity and obligatory nature of mental health check-ups in childhood and adolescence, consider it necessary to increase health resources and control and diagnostic tools in educational centers. It is in them where minors spend most of their time and where stressful situations occur. that can lead children and adolescents to make the decision to put an end to everything.
Bullying takes its toll on their emotional and psychological well-being: humiliation makes them perceive themselves as inferior to the rest and not value themselves. They feel alone, isolated, despised. Fear and helplessness lead them to believe that they are not capable of defending themselves and to think that their only way out is suicide.
In these cases, common symptoms and signs have been detected, which can alert at home that things are not going well:
- We see that the child is socially isolated, he does not go out with friends.
- He has abandoned leisure and sports activities.
- Try to avoid going to school frequently.
- His school grades have dropped.
- He has stopped talking about class things or about some classmates.
- Cries and don’t know how to explain what is happening to them.
- He does not receive invitations for birthdays, events or says he does not want to go.
- They have stopped posting on your social networks or have closed them.
- When friends are asked, we see that something doesn’t fit, that there have been changes in their interpersonal relationships.
- Communication with the family has decreased significantly.
- Presents changes in sleep and eating routines.
In the case of adults
As for adults, suicide prevention involves, first of all, banishing erroneous beliefs such as that whoever warns about the intention to commit suicide ends up not doing it, and vice versa. In other words, if the will to end one’s existence is not expressed, there is no danger. It is false: “It is a widespread myth that whoever says it does not do it and whoever does it does not say it. The reality is that there are many people who have committed the suicidal act, and have had previous attempts, as well as verbalizations.
The recommendation if someone expresses their intention to kill themselves is to listen without judging or trying to act on their own and accompany them in search of professional help. If the suicidal risk is imminent and the person does not want to voluntarily go to these services, they must contact the authorities so that the relevant protocols are activated. It is important, at this point, to take into account that half of the people who commit suicide have previous suicide attempts.
Family history is relevant and should never be ignored. Although genetic inheritance is not considered as part of a cause-effect binomial, it is true that it makes us prone to neurochemical alterations that can lead to mental disorders. Depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorder, and addictions are risk factors.
Regarding the behaviors that can put us on the track that something is not right, one much cited is personal abandonment. We must turn on the alert button if the person does not take care of himself, avoids going out, reduces contact with his environment, has sleep problems, loses weight, does not enjoy himself, has apathy and has concentration problems.
Self-harm, which is causing more concern every day due to its incidence in minors, are responses that may have different motivations. They can appear as a way to alleviate suffering, to punish oneself or to regulate emotions. In some cases it can be accompanied by suicidal thoughts and risk. Whether or not there is a suicidal risk, referral to a specialist is essential given the high degree of emotional suffering they present, as well as the risk to their physical health.
Suicide is a Threat that Affects All of Us
Likewise, we must be very attentive to vital crisis episodes, “if the person feels limited in their coping capacity in contexts such as sentimental breakups, economic problems and chronic illnesses, among others. Also, and above all, in adolescence, a critical period, in which the person is most vulnerable”.
It is in these cases when you have to approach the family member, the friend, the co-worker, the student. Because, contrary to what is thought, talking about suicide does not cause suicide. Quite the contrary, it is vital that the individual knows that they can speak and be heard, that they feel protected in a highly cohesive environment.
Another mistake is to consider that someone who has tried to commit suicide and has not succeeded is not going to try again. Quite the contrary, after a suicide attempt, it is essential that the person be referred to the emergency room for physical and psychiatric evaluation. In the event that it has not been referred, it is a priority to link it with medical services and mental health specialists to assess the person and activate the appropriate measures.
We must banish false myths and face the fact that suicide is a threat that affects us all and that we can all be part of prevention. The information, once again and especially in mental health, is one of the keys to prevention.