Kinds of People Who Commit Suicide
According to the late American clinical psychologist and suicidologist, Edwin Shneidman, there are four characterizations of people who seek suicide. The first category of suicide seekers, according to the psychologist, is death seekers. Shneidman (1999) goes further to explain that individuals who fall under this category are those with a particular intent to end their lives. Inherently such people mean to eliminate their lives during their attempt at suicide. It is a commonplace for such individuals to attempt ending their lives on impulse as their determination to go through with the act only lasts for a short while.
Moreover, death seekers may hesitate and become ambivalent about suicide for a substantial period (Shneidman, 1999). Nonetheless, when death seekers achieve the desire to kill themselves, they take measures that guarantee their deaths. Often these categories of suicide seekers will opt for direct and violent methods of ending their lives, for example, through shooting, stabbing, or hanging.
The next category of suicide seekers is the death initiators. According to Shneidman (1999), these are those individuals who have an intention to end their lives since they believe that death is already underway. Often, death initiators believe that their demise is imminent, and thus instead of waiting, they opt to speed up the process. Most death initiators think that they have less than a week or a day before their imminent death, hence their resolve to speed up the process (Shneidman, 1999). Typically, people suffering from terminal diseases or the elderly make up this category of suicide seekers, and the most common method of death include drug overdose for the elderly and the absconding of treatment for the terminally ill.
Death ignorers is another characterization posited by Shneidman. The psychologist explains that individuals belonging to this category believe that their self-inflicted death will not end their existence, but help them move onto the next realm of reality. Often such people think that they are trading their lives for a better and joyful existence. Many child suicides fall under this category. For instance, many suicidal children entertain such dark thoughts thinking that upon their deaths, they would be able to rejoin their parents or loved ones. The most common method of such deaths is through poisoning, especially those taken orally. Sometimes drug overdose has also been established as a standard alternative of death ignorers.
The final group of suicide seekers is the death darers. Unlike the latter three categories of people who possess a significant degree of certainty regarding their desire for death, darers often experience mixed feelings in their resolve of suicide. Their uncertainty usually lasts from the moment they start experiencing suicidal thoughts when they attempt suicide. Even when going through with the act, their ambivalence remains apparent. Death darers, unlike death seekers who create scenarios or take measures that guarantee their deaths, darers often do the opposite. For example, they would call friends and explain what they are doing and even take time to listen to them plead before going through with the act. Classically, death darers often hope for drug overdose as their preferred method of death.
Discuss adolescent suicide and factors that make adolescents particularly at risk for
The probability of suicidal thoughts increases with the age of an individual, despite people of varying age groups taking their lives. Among the different age groups susceptible to suicide, children, adolescents, and the elderly are the most affected by suicidal thoughts because of the unique issues that affect these age groups. After childhood, the infrequency of suicide among teenagers spikes. At the age of 14, harmful actions among adolescents become more common, with approximately 1500 teenagers committing suicide in the USA annually. Additionally, as many 10% of the teenagers in the nation attempt suicide, with one in every six adolescents thinking about the act each year (Shneidman, 1997).
Shneidman (1997) explains that half of the cases of suicide in America have been attributed to clinical depression, hopelessness, and low-self esteem. Clinical depression among teenagers is arguably the leading cause of suicide among adolescents. The phenomenon is a serious mental health issue that continues to persist today regardless of the long strides that have been made in the field of psychology regarding depression. A person suffering from clinical depression often experiences persistent feelings of sadness and disinterest in engaging activities. Often, the condition affects the school of thought of the teenager, affects his emotions and behavior, and can usually lead to emotional or functional issues.
Despite the condition being prevalent across all the age groups, the symptoms are often different and severe among adolescents. High academic expectations, peer pressure, and identity crises are among the many factors that contribute to more top cases of depression among teenagers. The growth spurts and the changing physical features can result in low self-esteem and confusion among people in this age group (Shneidman, 1997). If such individuals are not guided or fall into the wrong company, the result often constitutes seclusion, low self-esteem, which finally develops into depression depending on the personality of the teenager. Accordingly, teen depression is not a weakness and should thus be addressed since its implications include suicide.
According to Shneidman, some theorists argue that the period of adolescence itself constitutes a stressful environment that allows suicidal thoughts and tendencies to increase. The suicidologist goes further to explain that far more teenagers attempt suicide than they succeed with the ratio of attempts to deaths being as high as 200: 1 (Shneidman, 1997). Astonishing as these figures may be, many experts in psychology are not surprised as most of them point to the dynamism of the ever-changing society. Several theories have been put forward to explain why so many teenagers are battling with suicidal thoughts. However, it is worth noting that the baseline cause of the problem is attributed to societal factors.
It is also worth noting that these factors are sufficiently affected by the ethnic background of the subjects in America. Compared to adolescents from other ethnicities, white or Caucasian teenagers are by far the most susceptible to suicide. Hispanic and African American adolescents, on the other hand, record fewer cases of attempted or actual death by suicide. Nonetheless, compared to these three ethnicities, Native Americans, or American Indians record the highest number of suicides per year.
Effectiveness of Suicide Prevention Programs
Having discussed the concept of suicide and the factors and groups of individuals affected by the problem, one must consider the preventive measures against it. Accordingly, since suicide is a mental disorder, it takes psychologically approved steps conducted by specialists for the problem to be handled sufficiently. Shneidman classifies suicide as a component or result of mood disorders. Therefore to prevent suicide, it is essential to focus on the treatment of mood disorders.
As painful and persistent as mood disorders can be, their treatment is undeniably easier compared to other forms of psychological dysfunction. The range of treatment methods available has been the reason why the number of deaths by suicide is significantly less compared to the attempts. As discussed above, the ratio remains at 200: 1, a very distinct and enormous difference by all measures (Shneidman, 1997). Moreover, these treatments have been able to reduce the number of recurring attempts at suicide by many children, teenagers, and adults who attempted suicide but failed to die.
For instance, individuals suffering from unipolar depression can access treatment from mental health professionals each year under cover of their medical insurance. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that the access varies between the ethnicities and racial groups due to demographical differences that have ailed the American society for decades. Moreover, since many individuals often awaken more and deeper depressive emotions due to other disorders, the field of psychology has improved over the years, and today, Americans are undergoing therapy like never before (Shneidman, 1997).
Conclusively, the available preventive measures against suicide include mood-disorder treatments that are based upon multicultural, family-social, and electroconvulsive approaches to therapy. A multicultural approach involves the incorporation of traditional forms of psychotherapy, which increase the chances of minority groups overcoming their disorders. The practice has especially been effective in communities made up of Native Americans who continue to hold on to their conservative beliefs. Family-social therapy, on the other hand, revolves around sessions that include the immediate members of the person affected by the disorder and usually helps in ensuring that they learn ways of coping with the patient through the provision of safe environments that are void of triggers. The electroconvulsive method of therapy, the most controversial of all, is limited to mental health institutions and is only administered to patients suffering from severe mental disorders.