I have already written extensively, in other articles available on this website, about how we are more likely to consider, attempt or complete suicide if we have suffered severe childhood trauma in comparison to those who were fortunate enough to grow up in a relatively stable, loving and secure environment. Indeed, my own most serious suicide attempt left me in a coma in the intensive care unit of a hospital for five days. I was given about a 50% chance of survival.
ABOVE : Pie chart showing the frequency of use of specific suicide methods.
SUICIDE AND BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER (BPD):
It is a startling fact that those who suffer from borderline personality disorder (BPD) – a serious psychiatric condition which has been shown to be strongly associated with the experience of childhood trauma (click here to read one of my articles about this) – have a 1 in 10 chance of their lives ending by suicide.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SUICIDE AND GENDER :
As can be seen from the chart below, suicide amongst men is about three times as common as it is amongst women. HOWEVER, females are about TWICE as likely to ATTEMPT suicide than are males.
ABOVE : Approximately 3 times more males die by suicide than females. However, females are far more likely to ATTEMPT (unsuccessfully) suicide than males.
STUDIES ON RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SEVERE CLINICAL DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE:
A study by Rennie et al found that, of people who have been hospitalized with severe clinical depression, about 5% will eventually commit suicide. However, a study conducted by Moss and Hamilton, found that of those patients who had both been hospitalized for severe clinical depression AND HAD ALSO expressed strong suicidal intent, 11% eventually took their own lives.
ARE SUICIDE STATISTICS UNDER-RECORDED?
In the USA, recent statistics report that approximately 30,000 individuals will die by suicide per annum. However, researchers believe that real figures are much higher (perhaps even seven or eight times higher). In other words, it is thought many suicides are concealed (eg as accidents) when relevant others do not wish, for their own private and highly sensitive reasons, for the real cause of death to become publicly known.
COMBINED SUICIDE AND HOMICIDE :
Tragically, sometimes those who commit suicide also kill others before they do so. For example, very rarely there are reports that a severely mentally ill mother has killed her children before killing herself, as, in her tortured frame of mind, she was of the belief that the world was too terrible a place for them to be left to cope without a mother. Of course, this can equally apply to fathers (indeed, such cases are also reported on rare occasions).
RISK FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO ATTEMPTED AND COMPLETED SUICIDE :
The risk that an individual will attempt or complete suicide is especially high if s/he is suffering an episode of major depression and :
– also has psychotic symptoms (click here to read my article about psychotic depression)
– has a family history of completed suicides
– has a concurrent substance misuse disorder
– has made previous suicide attempts
– expresses the intent to commit suicide
– expresses pessimism and hopelessness
COGNITIVE-BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY (CBT):
Studies (eg Brown et al) suggest that the intervention of CBT can reduce a person’s likelihood of attemting suicide by about 50%. (to read my article about CBT, click here).
NB It is recommended that anyone suffering suicidal thoughts seek urgent treatment.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).