Suicide Suicide can best be described as the destructive act of voluntarily taking one’s own life. Suicide often presents a real and often tragic puzzle to be solved by friends and family, and any other professionals who have been involved with someone who has committed suicide. To be able to definitively answer the question as to why an individual would commit such a deadly act seems to be a highly complex task. The victim himself or herself, is perhaps the least aware of the answer to this ninth leading cause of death.
Scientists have discovered that the cause of this fatal behavior can be found both within and without the individual.Whether biological, sociological or psychological the question remains as to which one will provide explanations to suicidal behavior. Or perhaps, could the answer be that all these factors are somehow interrelated. Whatever the case may be the statistics are frighteningly real. There is more suicide deaths than homicides in the United States every year. Unbelievably so, suicide is in fact the ninth leading cause of death in the United Stated. For the young, consisting up to the age of fifteen, it is the third cause of death in the United States.
Rounded to the nearest second, on average, every seventeen seconds one person will complete this self-destructive act resulting in death. Men account for eighty percent of all suicides in the United States and are more likely than women to be successful at killing themselves. There are, rounded to the nearest person, one female suicide completion to every four male suicide completions. Suicides committed using firearms make up over sixty percent of the population that has committed suicide.
Of this sixty- percent of firearm suicide, white men make up eighty percent of this statistic. Every year there are seven hundred seventy-five thousand suicide attempts in the United States.It is estimated that five million Americans have attempted suicide. For every male suicide attempt there are three female attempts. The majority of overdose attempts is unsuccessful and account for seventy percent of suicide attempts (SFSP: U.S.
Suicide Statistics, 1996). It is estimated that for every suicide there is six survivors close to the victims that are affected. The statistics are stunning.How can we understand better why individuals would take their own life (McIntosh, 1997) The conclusion that suicide is closely related to psychiatric illness is what researchers have come up with. The three diagnoses with the highest risk are depression, alcoholism and schizophrenia. Seventy percent of suicides would have been diagnosed with major depression. Fifteen percent would have been diagnosed with alcoholism and four percent from schizophrenia. Researchers have used two methods to come up with these findings.
The first one, the researchers find out what proportion of people who have committed suicide have been diagnosed with a psychiatric illness in their past. The second method of research involves what is called psychological autopsy. Psychological autopsy involves carefully questioning the family members and friends of the suicide victim.
These questions are in reference to the individual state of mind, mood and behavior of the deceased individual preceding his or her death. The conclusion that the majority of suicides were the result of psychiatric illness before death has been strongly supported by these two research techniques (Williams, 1997).Major depression carries a fifteen- percent lifetime risk associated with suicide.
Depression is a state of mind that results in feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, alienation, and uncontrollable urges to shed an unwanted self. Often, depression includes a variety of physical complaints that cannot be diagnosed as a physical illness. It is normal for any individual to feel depression at one time or another.
In addition, there are many factors associated with depression. Any individual dealing with overwhelming amounts of stress can experience depression. However, it is when a person stays depressed for extended periods of time, that the likelihood of having suicidal urges increases (Williams, 1997).Similar to that of depressed individuals, Alcoholics also carry a fifteen- percent lifetime risk of suicide.
Alcohol dependence can be expressed in one of three ways. By consuming alcohol excessively on a daily basis. Second, by consuming excessive amounts of alcohol on a regular weekend basis. Third, by excessively consuming alcohol on binges lasting weeks or months.
With alcoholics in mind, men are six times more likely to commit suicide than women are (Williams, 1997). One percent of the population suffers from schizophrenia at one time or another.Schizophrenia involves a range of symptoms including delusions, disorder in the form of thought, disorders of perception, or a change in moods.
Consequently, these individuals often have a difficult time associating with other people in society. Studies have been proven that up to fifteen percent of the population of schizophrenics will commit suicide. In addition, as in the case of alcoholics, men are more prone to suicide than women (Williams, 1997) The very field of sociology was in part founded on the discovery that suicide rates are just as much a sociological phenomenon as they are psychological. Around the turn of the century, French sociologist Emile Durkeim found that single people were more likely to be victims than married individuals, Protestants more likely than Catholics, urban residents more likely than rural residents. Arguing that suicide was related to the nature of bonds between self and society, Durkheim argued that either excessive or deficient levels of integration and regulation lead to four ideal types of suicide (Spalding & Simpson, 1951). The four ideal types of suicide consist of egoistic, altruistic, anomic, and fatalistic.
Perhaps the most prevalent form in the United States is egoistic. Egoistic is explained as the result of too little social integration. An example, would be the suicide of a retired elderly widow. The second, altruistic is the consequence of excessive integration. Such as the death of a Japanese kamikaze pilot during World War II or the act of self-sacrifice upon finding out that a leader or chief is dead.Altruistic is when an …