Suicide is a complex and sensitive topic, but it is crucial to discuss signs, prevention strategies, and relevant legislation
By: Ekua Stephens - Kyzzfmonline
July 8, 2023

Edwin Turkson, a psychiatric nurse and one of the speakers from the Embraced Mind Community, shared valuable insights about suicide and how to deal with it when it arises.

He explained that suicide is not about wanting to die, but rather about not wanting to live.

It is often seen as a way for people to escape pain or suffering.

When someone ends their own life, it is referred to as dying by suicide.

On the other hand, a "suicide attempt" means that someone tried to end their life but did not succeed.

During an interview with Kyzzfmonline, Turkson provided historical context about suicide, highlighting its presence in various cultures and periods of history.

Suicide has been known in the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths (Lester, 2006).

Even the Bible provides accounts of suicide and suicidal thinking, as seen in Matthew 27:5, which details the actions of Judas when the priest refused to allow him to retract his betrayal of Jesus.

In Greek and Roman times, suicide was permissible, such as the suicides of Anthony and Cleopatra.

However, for most of history, suicide, like homicide, was forbidden.

Among East African tribes, when self-hanging occurred, the tree from which it happened had to be felled and burnt (Bohannan, 1960).

While the Quran is said to condemn suicide, precise statements to this effect were not provided by the imams interviewed.

Turkson encouraged the group to explore the risk factors and causes of suicide. These factors can be grouped into two categories: acute risk and chronic risk.

Acute suicide risk can arise from sudden overwhelming distress or intoxication, affecting both individuals with and without mental disorders.

It may occur in mental disorders, particularly in psychotic depression, where delusions of guilt and loss are prominent features.

Mental disorders can be complicated by personality difficulties and the ready availability of alcohol. Dumais et al. (2005) found that impulsive-aggressive personality disorders and alcohol abuse/dependence were two important, independent predictors of suicide in major depression.

Chronic risk factors indicate that certain individuals are at long-term (chronic) risk of suicide, which is often associated with personality disorders.

Personality disorders differ from conditions like major depressive disorder, which manifest as discrete episodes of difficulties.

"Personality" refers to the long-term characteristics of how an individual responds to the environment. A personality disorder is diagnosed when these features of personality lead to "distress and impairment."

Turkson then discussed different types of suicide, including egoistic, altruistic, anomic, and fatalistic suicide, explaining each one in detail.

  • Egoistic suicide is the result of a lack of social integration. It is committed by individuals who feel like social outcasts and perceive themselves as being alone or disconnected from society. These individuals struggle to find their place and have difficulty adjusting to social groups. They receive little social care, and suicide is seen as a solution to escape loneliness or excessive individuation.

  • Altruistic suicide occurs when individuals have an excessively high level of social group involvement. They are so deeply integrated into a group that they are willing to sacrifice their own lives to fulfill obligations for the group. Examples include individuals who commit suicide for the sake of religious or political causes, believing it will benefit the collective.

  • Anomic suicide is caused by a lack of social regulations and occurs during periods of high stress and frustration. It stems from sudden and unexpected changes in life circumstances. For instance, extreme financial loss can lead to disappointment and stress, driving individuals to consider suicide as a means of escape.

  • Fatalistic suicide occurs when individuals are subjected to tight regulations and extreme expectations that erode their sense of self and individuality. Slavery and persecution are examples where individuals may feel destined by fate to endure such conditions, leading them to see suicide as the only means of escape.

Turkson emphasized that people of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk for suicide.

The main risk factors include a history of suicide attempts, depression, other mental disorders, substance use disorders, chronic pain, and a family history of mental disorders or substance use.