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Suicide-Why do people attempt to kill themselves?


‘I   no longer felt that life was worth it’ says Mabel.  ‘I wanted relief from all the pain and suffering’ says   Susan a female student who attempted suicide.    Every year, over one million people die by suicide worldwide.

When a loved one commits suicide, one is left with a bitter taste of guilt, anger, pain and numbness as one ponders  if he or she may have contributed to it in any way or if it could have been prevented.  In some cases, family members grieve in silence, unable to share the real cause of death with people around them.  Additionally, the   fear of been stigmatized makes it difficult to access treatment or counselling services even after the death of the loved one.

Although some persons leave notes before attempting suicide, this does not always resolve the question: why?  Why do people take their lives? Why would a hilarious, cheerful, kind and happy family member or friend want to end it all by taking his or her life? This is a question that have left many families bewildered and shocked   after a loved one attempts suicide.

What are the most common reasons people attempt to kill themselves?


They may have Depression  

This has been found to be the commonest reason persons attempt to take their lives. Depression is a condition that tells convincing lies about who a person is and what he or she stands for. People with depression may  believe they are worthless, hopeless, guilty and better off dead. How sad! If you know of someone battling with depression, ensure he or she gets proper treatment.  Also, do not shy away from trying to know how the person really feels.  This is because   depression sufferers make up their minds to kill themselves and secretly make plans to do so.  Ask directly if  he  is planning to kill himself –you may get  a shockingly honest answer.  When a loved says he or she is considering suicide, NEVER dismiss this or treat it lightly. Do not delay in seeking treatment.

Depression-Signs, causes and treatments

They may have other forms of mental disorder

Mental illnesses associated with psychosis also accounts for cases of suicide. Schizophrenia, a severe form of mental illness affects healthy persons between 17 and 30 years old. Other forms of psychotic disorders may be brief but distressing as well.  Hearing voices of unseen persons is one of the main features of psychotic illness which may lead to suicide.  For instance,  when a person hears voices of unseen persons, he may begin to hear commands such as ‘why don’t you kill yourself’ ‘You can end all these problems by killing yourself’ and so on. Unfortunately, an individual that is mentally ill may obey these commands with tragic results.

What you need to know about Schizophrenia

They may be having a crisis

Hopelessness may occur during sudden changes in circumstances such as breakdown in relationships, and sudden loss of unemployment or status.  In 9 out of 10 cases of attempted suicide, persons no longer felt optimistic about the future and conclude that life is no longer worth living. Such individuals conclude that things can no longer change for better. This moves them to end it all with whatever resources are available.

READ:  Are you Always Positive? See How Optimism affects Your Health

Some of the common cause of hopelessness are:

  1. Financial problems-For instance, during times of recession, people are more likely to kill themselves on account of financial problems and unexpected job losses. The loss of status is associated with humiliation, shame and perceived failure. Inability to deal with these may make an individual attempt suicide.
  2. Relationship difficulties leading to break-ups or rejection may trigger feelings of sadness, loneliness, guilt and suicidal thoughts.
  3. Traumatic experiences– Anyone that has experienced any form of physical, sexual or psychological abuse would know that this may cause intense emotional problems leaving the person with feelings of shame, guilt, anger and humiliation. Rape, accidents, physical assaults are forms of trauma that have been linked to high suicidal intent.
  4. Bullying– Among young persons, bullying may result in suicide. Persons are now bullied online via social media, forums and other websites that report things that may damage a persons’ reputation.  This was the case of Brandy Vela, an 18-year-old girl that shot herself in front of her family. She had been bullied because of her weight via social media. On the day she shot herself, she sent a text ‘I love you so much, please remember that, and I’m sorry for everything’.



They may be impulsive

Some persons are naturally impulsive, moving swiftly once their minds are made up. In certain instances, this occurs when under the influence of alcohol or drugs which may affect their judgment and increase risky behaviour.  Drug and alcohol use may also lead to suicide in other ways. For instance, persons that drink or abuse drugs also experience intense feelings of withdrawal when trying to quit. This may be associated with depression, hopelessness and suicidal thoughts.

They may be crying for help

Sometimes, people attempt to kill themselves when they find it extremely difficult to seek help in resolving serious personal or social problems.  Surprisingly,   they really don’t want to die but make the attempt to get back at someone that may have hurt them. This often happens in relationships, when someone threatens or attempts to kill herself in the event of a break-up. It may also occur if an individual is living with a highly stigmatized condition.  This is because there are barriers to seeking help or treatment for some physical or emotional problems in many societies.  Unfortunately, an individual going through such a problem may   conclude that the only way to draw attention to it is by attempting suicide.

It is important to note that there are usually multiple reasons, not just one, for suicide. Several negative factors may weaken an individual’s mental health and overwhelm his or her capacity to cope.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, do not delay in seeking professional help.




Chesney E, Goodwin GM, Fazel S. (2014) Risk of all-cause and suicide mortality in mental disorders: a meta-review.

World Psychiatry. 13(2): 153-60.

www.suicide.org/international –suicide-statistics





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