Rate of suicides reducing but number of attempts same

Sri Lanka had the world’s highest rate of suicides in 1995 but the number is reducing gradually although the number of attempts has not changed, Sumithrayo announced.

Sumithrayo says this indicates that there is still an acute national need to help those who need emotional support. Sumithrayo recently held a press conference to increase awareness about the free service they provide.

Since 1996 when the special Presidential Task Force set up the National Policy on suicide prevention, it is recognized that mental illness, alcohol and drug use, poor coping skills, are all contributory factors that lead people towards suicide in Sri Lanka.

Services are therefore targeted towards helping people who fall into these categories. The fact that suicide is invariably the outcome of a combination of factors – environmental, psychological, sociological and biological is now accepted.

“Attempting Suicide is never the result of a single factor or event and is likely to have several inter related and complex causes. The single factor or event (like a scolding) is the trigger that causes unbearable pain coupled with the inability to cope any further and feelings of very low self-esteem. Thus, an attempt to end it all,” Sumithrayo said.

Some of the problems that increase the risk of suicide are rejection in a relationship, unbearable grief, heavy use/dependency on alcohol or other drugs, a disabling or terminal illness, history of earlier attempts or self-harming, depression, mental illness and poor coping skills.

The biology of the brain, genetics, psychological traits, and social forces can all contribute to such feelings.

Another less publicized reason is that, dealing with human sexuality (associated with the facts of life) in an unsupportive family, community or hostile school environment can also bring about such feelings. As would the feelings of worthlessness and guilt soon after (or long after) a person has been sexually abused. (Colombo Gazette)