Aqib Suleiman Asks: There is a high rate of suicide among youth. Please explain suicidal thoughts, where they come from and,
how they are manifested, what preventive measures can be used?
S suicidal thoughts or suicidal ideation is a deep-rooted and complex phenomenon that often emerges in the late adolescent years of an individual, or it may appear as a result of a specific stimulus or thought patterns within an individual’s life.
The most important thing we must remember is that a tendency towards suicidal thoughts is not something that can be looked out for, discovered, or rooted out easily. Moreover, due to its profoundly subjective nature, it cannot independently be worked out by employing our own metrics upon somebody else’s thoughts. A professional must be involved at all stages.
Generally, suicidal thoughts can range from temporary thought cycles to deliberate plans to end one’s life. This is a rather extensive and sweeping range. This is precisely why professionals talk about suicidal ideation as either passive or active. However, the nature of these thoughts is something only a professional can gauge or determine and must not be put within the speculative realms of society.The exact causes of suicidal ideation cannot be listed with concision since each case is unique, and the factors that contribute to it emerge from the patient’s history. However, generally, we can conclude that these thoughts carry on an air of melancholy, helplessness, and listlessness when these thoughts occur.
Teenage and early adulthood is a time of growth and possibilities, but it can also be a time of extreme stress. There is pressure to excel academically, fit socially, and behave responsibly. In short, it is a transitioning phase when many things in the world begin to present themselves as responsibilities. Feelings of being overwhelmed are pretty common in these years. Being overwhelmed can result in many different thinking patterns and behaviours. One of such thought patterns, in extreme conditions, is suicidal ideation. At this stage, it is important to remember that although teenage years signal growth, they do not come along with experience. Therefore, the adolescent immediately finds himself in the world of ‘grown-ups’ without the ability to navigate it. They must be provided guidance and resources to emerge unscathed throughout the ordeal. Our responsibilities increase as parents, teachers, caretakers, mentors, etc. An open communication channel and emotional and physical presence are paramount to spot an inclination towards suicidal ideation in these years. Since each case is unique, our vigilance is more urgent and vital.
As a general rule, to spot if suicidal tendencies exist, we can isolate a few general patterns or behaviours indicative of its presence. Suicidal thoughts are more likely to occur in young people with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or insomnia. Teenagers who experience significant life changes (parents divorcing, moving, a parent moving away due to military duty or parental separation, financial troubles, social relationships and addiction, etc.) and those who are bullied are more likely to have suicidal thoughts.
Such youngsters with a higher risk for suicide may express anger, have altered academic or professional performance, make comments referencing death and dying, feel unworthy or depressed, and may experience irritability, lose enthusiasm for activities, and withdraw. Therefore, It is pertinent to gain insight into suicidal behaviours for one’s own as well as others around them, since there can always be some preventive strategy adopted before such a devastating act. Professional forums for reaching out to such individuals or creating facilitating and access-friendly mechanisms in society are in crucial demand these days including social media, and private or institutional facilities.