Fort Refuge - Abuse Survivors Support Group

Suicide Facts


Statistics read that suicide numbers all over the world are constantly on the rise. An important influencing factor in this rising rate is the evolving modern lifestyle that neglects human beings' emotional well-being more and more and jeopardizes lives.

According to the World Health Organization's facts and figures, about 1 million people all over the world die from suicide every year. This represents sixteen people for every 100,000, in other words, 1 death each 40 seconds. That's an alarmingly fast mortality rate worldwide. Experts predict that this death rate will rise to 1 per 20 seconds (twice the current rate) by 2020 (only 9 years from now).

Suicide rates have gone up by sixty per cent all over the world in the past 45 years. Suicide is currently one of the top 3 causes of death amongst both males and females aged 15 to 44. Attempts at suicide are almost twenty times more common compared to successful suicides. In spite of suicide rates traditionally being high amongst older males, youth are now those at the greatest risk in one third of all world countries.

Particularly in Eastern Europe, both women and men report the top suicide rates. On the other hand, lowest rates of suicide are reported in Central Asia and Eastern Mediterranean regions. Almost thirty per cent of all worldwide suicides take place in China and India. Suicide amongst youth is at an all time high as well.

It is strongly believed that factors like emotional support, living conditions, cultural restrictions, family crisis, and religion influence suicide rates amongst communities. Suicide rates are found to be lower amongst religious groups like Muslims and Christian. Global ages of those who commit suicide are as listed: 55 per cent aged 15-44 years and 45 per cent at 45 years or over in age.

Take action today! Do your bit to stop suicide. A loved one could be the next victim.

How to support an abuse survivor through a suicidal crisis:

1. Listen to what they are saying. This is the single most important thing you can do for them: just listen. Don't judge, don't jump to action, don't propose solutions, don't assume what they must be feeling/thinking based on what you would feel/think in their shoes. Just listen to what they are saying. This is what they need most - to be heard and understood.

2. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Your friend wouldn't be reaching out to you for help if they didn't want it. Get as much information as possible: do they have a plan? The means to execute it? The set date? Did they make any arrangements already? You will need this information if the situation gets out of control and you have to call police. Just ask the person straight, they'll answer, if you don't put extra emphasis or imply which answer you want to hear or whether there will be consequences for the "wrong" answer.

3. Take each threat seriously, but use your judgement to differentiate between threats and simple sharing of negative thoughts/emotions. Play it safe, but don't overreact and never freak out - your friend is stressed out enough already, don't add to it. "I'm gonna overdose tonight" is a threat, while "I'm feeling depressed and hopeless lately" is not. Don't threaten to call police on a person who just needs to talk and isn't planning a suicide attempt. When in doubt - make them call a hotline; hotline workers are trained to assess actual danger, let professionals do the guesswork.

4. Don't attempt to "save" the person by yourself. You aren't trained to handle suicide crises - imagine if you fail? Reach out for help if necessary (call police in case of danger), encourage your friend to get professional help (counselling, therapy, hotlines, ER), and do NOT try to substitute for it, do not attempt amateur therapy on someone in crisis. Do not encourage deeper discussions than appropriate between friends. You are a friend, not a counselor. Your friend needs both: you AND a counselor, don't try to sit on two chairs at once. Listen to what they are willing to share, but don't push for more, don't give advice, don't attempt to solve their problems for them.

5. Don't promise secrecy, and don't honor such promises if already made. Saving a life takes preference over confidentiality. Would you rather have your friend stay alive, but get mad at you and cut you off, or would you rather visit their grave and find solace in the fact that you remained "loyal" at the cost of their life? Stay honest whenever possible, but be clear that you will do anything necessary if their life is in danger, including a call to police, their family, etc.

6. If it's an immediate danger, call police right away, but do not leave the person alone, even for a minute. If you are not with them physically - keep them on the phone with you until police arives. Make them talk to you, of anything at all, just don't let them hang up. A little dishonesty is acceptable too - people in immediate suicide crisis can rarely think straight (would you, if you were about to die?), so small tricks do work: for example, bombard your friend with simple questions: what room are you in, have you fed the dog today, are the kids already asleep - anything at all. If you are forceful enough, your friend will keep talking to you. Even one minute can be enough to commit suicide, - don't give them this minute.

7. Don't leave your friend alone while they're struggling. It's important to not overstep boundaries, but do check on them frequently. Suicide crises come in various degrees, from an attempt in progress to occasional ideation - if a person isn't about to hang themselves right now, it doesn't mean they're doing good and don't need your support. Try to involve them in some feel-good activities: shopping, cooking, movie-watching, jogging in a park, volunteering in a soup kitchen - anything at all, preferably planned from beforehand, so that the person has something positive to look forward to each day. Do not leave them alone. Suicide crisis can be scary, but if you get overwhelmed and withdraw - it might make things worse for your friend. Drop by with some chicken soup.

8. Stay healthy and grounded yourself. Suicidal crisis is very stressful for everyone involved - do not forget to take good care of yourself too. Know your limits, don't exhaust yourself, set boundaries if necessary - do not get dragged into irrational thinking. Seeing you grounded helps, seeing you enmeshed - doesn't. Imagine a drowning person reaching for your hand - to pull them out of the water you need to be standing on solid ground yourself, and holding on strongly. But if you jump in to join them, this won't help - you both will drown.

Links for further reading:

  • The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) was founded in 1987 by concerned scientists, business and community leaders, and survivors of suicide in an effort to support the research, education and treatment programs needed to prevent suicide. In addition, it serves as a national clearinghouse for information of suicide.
  • YellowRibbon.orgInternational Youth Suicide Prevention Program

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Ignorant men raise questions that wise men answered a thousand years ago.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
This page was last updated on July 16th, 2015
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