What Is Suicide? - Definition, Triggers, Underlying Causes & Prevention

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  • 0:05 Suicide
  • 0:53 Reasons
  • 2:21 Triggers
  • 3:41 Prevention
  • 5:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Why would a person take their own life? And what can be done to prevent it? In this lesson, we'll look at the reasons for, triggers of, and prevention of suicide.

Suicide

Warren is in a dangerous situation. He's been feeling depressed for a while, but recently things have gotten worse. He's lost his job, and his family is at risk of losing their home to foreclosure. He thinks that his family might be better off if he's dead, and they can collect the insurance money. More and more, he thinks about killing himself.

Suicide is the act of taking one's own life. In 2010, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death for Americans, with over 38,000 reported suicides. Many of the people who commit suicide suffer from a mood disorder or other psychological disorder. Let's look closer at the reasons, triggers, and prevention of suicide.

Reasons

There are many reasons that people commit suicide. Five common reasons include:

  1. Depression is a common problem for suicidal people. Though there are treatments for depression, when left untreated, it can be a significant issue that can lead to suicide. Remember that Warren has been suffering from depression for a while now. This could be a driving factor behind his suicidal thoughts.
  2. Psychotic thoughts, like hearing voices, can also be a reason for suicide. For this reason, patients of psychotic disorders, like schizophrenia, are at a higher risk than the general population for suicide.
  3. Impulsivity can also lead to suicide. A person who has low impulse control might make decisions when feeling temporarily low or when under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This could lead to impulsively committing suicide.
  4. A cry for help is another common reason for suicide. People who are crying out for help don't actually want to die, but attempted suicide is the only way they know how to ask for help. Unfortunately, attempted suicide as a cry for help can sometimes backfire, leading to actual suicide.
  5. Terminal illness can sometimes lead people to make a rational decision to take their own lives, as opposed to slowly and painfully dying of an illness.

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