It can be very confronting, when someone you know feels suicidal. Trying to understand why someone is considering ending their life can be very challenging.
People contemplating suicide will be experiencing intense emotional pain and can view suicide as a way to end the pain. The emotional pain they are feeling, can be the result of a number of experiences or circumstances.
Why suicide? Negative life events and suicidal thoughts
Some examples of negative life events that may act as triggers for suicidal thoughts include:
- Emotional, physical, sexual (past or present) abuse
- Significant loss
- Breakdown of a relationship
- Social isolation
- Previous suicide attempts or self-harm
- Exposure to suicidal behaviour in others (particularly another completed suicide)
- Parental separation/divorce
- Drug/alcohol abuse
- Failing school/dropping out
- Legal or court action
- Financial crises.
In many cases, people thinking about suicide contend with several stressful life events at once. Their thoughts and emotions connected to these experiences become overwhelming.
Any life event can trigger suicidal thoughts and feelings; the issue is how a person feels about the event, and what meaning it holds for them. While the above situations can often be linked to suicidal behaviour, whether or not they will actually cause someone to consider ending their life, depends largely on that persons interpretation of their circumstances.
Suicide and mental illness
Mental illness is a significant risk factor when it comes to feelings of suicide, although it is complex relationship.
People with mental illness have a higher risk of suicide than that of the general population. However, mental illness alone does not cause feelings of suicide, but rather their mental illness and negative life events can trigger suicidal thoughts.
Further reading if you are concerned about someone