PSYC 523 Blog #4: Suicide Around the World

For my final blog I want to discuss and shed some light on a sensitive topic that I believe needs to be addressed: Suicide. *Trigger Warning*

Suicide has recently come into the public sphere to a greater degree than before due to the ever-so-popular Netflix series, “Th1rteen R3asons Why”. Now, I’m not going to get into a debate on my personal views about the show but rather, I would simply like to point out the attention it has given the topic of suicide. I think we can all agree on that at least.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the series, it is based on a book with the same title by Jay Asher. The show revolves around a teenage girl, Hannah Baker, who attempts suicide after numerous culminating struggles in her life brought on my select individuals from her high school.

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The series therefore, has brought new awareness surrounding suicide. It even shows graphic scenes depicting her attempt. While critics argue that it was unnecessary and even potentially dangerous, producers wanted to portray a very surreal and raw image.

Hannah’s reasons for her suicide were left on prerecorded tapes that recounted the details of her misfortunes. Not all people have the same reasons, however. There are numerous cultural, social, psychological and emotional differences. I’m now going to show that by giving ya’ll some information about suicide in a few countries.

Suicide in the United States

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the rate of suicide in the United States has increased by a shocking 24% within the last 18 years alone. I find that statistic so disheartening. It makes me question whether some were not reported in the past or if it really is just a rapidly multiplying occurrence. Suicide is also currently the second leading cause of death among young and emerging adults. The largest increases in suicide have been seen in males in their fifties. USA Today reported that there are far fewer homicides than suicides and that one suicide happens every thirteen minutes in the U.S. Those numbers are really eye-opening. Although that seems like such a high prevalence rate, the United States is actually in a four-way tie for 48th place among countries worldwide. Let’s take a look at how a couple of other countries compare.

Suicide in Nepal

Nepal drastically differs from the United States in terms of suicide rates. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), they have a much lower prevalence rate with 7.2 per 100,000, whereas the U.S. sees 12.6 per 100,000. This may not seem like much of a difference but taking the total population into consideration, it is. There are arguments among researchers as to whether these results are very accurate. Incidence of suicide tends to be underreported due to both cultural and social pressures, and in some areas it is completely unreported. Since the data might be skewed, comparing suicide rates between nations paints a statistically inaccurate picture.  For example, attempted suicide is illegal in Nepal and people who attempt suicide (when caught) are subject to imprisonment, fines or both. Therefore, any suicide figures for Nepal will underestimate the actual incidence. Imagine the United States government fining people or throwing them in jail for attempted suicide. Would that not worsen their outlook and only increase the risk for more future attempts?

Suicide in Sri Lanka

According to recent studies done by the WHO, Sri Lanka tops the list of suicide prevalence rates. Strangely enough, the small island nation has one of the highest rates in the world. Unfortunately poverty, joblessness, high debt burdens and other social problems—the main factors behind the high suicide rate—are rampant throughout the country. Poverty, social inequality and homelessness have worsened dramatically only making matters poorer. Though the rates have declined in recent years, it remains among the worst globally. One reason for that could be because the government is attempting to cover up the real picture. State village officers are being directed by the government not to issue death certificates for a suicide. Suicide in Sri Lanka therefore, is a long term social issue. By not openly discussing suicide and engaging in conversation about it, Sri Lanka is simply hurting its citizens.

world suicide data.png

The reality is that no matter what country we are talking about, suicide is an important topic. It is serious and deserving of recognition. I realize that sometimes talking about it too much or romanticizing it can be potentially harmful, but we need to find the happy medium. We can’t go on avoiding it or people may be too scared to come forward to look for help. Chances are, we all know someone who has committed suicide, attempted suicide, or thought about it. Those are people all around us, the ones whom we care about. We need to do more to stand up for them when they feel like they can no longer stand up for themselves.

“We need to change the culture of this topic and make it okay to speak about mental health and suicide”

Here are a few resources to turn to for you or someone you know, if need be:

https://afsp.org/TWLOHA

https://www.sa.sc.edu/shs/cp/

http://www.youcannotbereplaced.com/

http://www.spsamerica.org/

http://www.suicide.org/index.html

https://www.save.org/

http://www.suicideispreventable.org/

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