Suicide and suicidality

By Dr. Jojo Onwukwe

What is suicide and what is suicidality?
Why do people commit suicide? What do we do to help people with suicidality and or suicidal ideation?
This write up will be serialized in three parts, if we are allowed. First we decide what suicide and suicidality means. Then we talk of the reasons why people take their lives. And we dwell on the third part which is, what do we do to help people under the said conditions. The third part will also concentrate on “Healing from within”: That is integrating Religion and Spirituality into Health Care; acknowledging that studies and experience have shown that understanding one’s problems in religious or spiritual terms can be a powerful alternative to a biological or psychological frame work. This also enhances coping mechanisms.
Part 1.
Suicide means voluntarily taking one’s life. This is an end point. And when completed, we can do little or nothing. Suicidality means suicidal behavior, suicidal ideation, hopelessness, rumination to end it up, intractable negative thoughts, melancholia (sadness and loss of hope), feeling of being trapped. Suicidality will include everything from beginning to the attempt or completed suicide. It will include social isolation, inability to enjoy life; particularly what used to interest oneself.
In suicidal ideation one’s thoughts centre on how to end it up. In some persons the idea comes as a flash and goes. In some it is intermittent. While in some it is continuous. In some individuals, they hear distinct voices instructing/suggesting they should kill themselves as an escape route. Many will perceive the hallucinations as strange and may make efforts to reject the thoughts; yet some will accept it as the best option for their woes.
Remember, we are talking of suicidality which means all processes from suicidal ideation; thoughts, to attempted suicide. Once  suicide is completed, we do have little to do. Deliberate self harm means introverted aggression towards self. Most people involved in talking their lives are impulsive and aggressive generally. A greater percentage has ego weakness which means inability to postpone gratification. They want immediate results there and then. People with ego strength are those who can withstand frustration and can postpone gratification in whatever forms.
Bear in mind that frustration/difficulties are individual dynamic. In practice we meet people in what would be considered serious difficulties getting on in absolute equanimity and those with slight frustrations reacting excessively negatively. The way we react to adverse conditions is a subject of two components acting on the individual.
Everybody at birth is endowed with familial/biological predisposition; call it innate tendencies. Then environmental stressors will act on the individual. Stress  also is individual dynamic. What may be stressful to some may be just picnic for others.
How we react to stressful conditions is a product of our innate biological predisposition and environmental stress. Positive or negative things can be stressful because the individual is tasked towards higher level of performance.
But we are not helpless in this. We can at least modify or reduce our negative innate tendencies through this subject matter – healing from within integrating Religion and Spirituality to reduce suicidality.
Return your minds once again to deliberate self- harm and suicidality.
On a global level the World health Organisation (WHO) 2001 estimated that
approximately 800,000 individuals worldwide died by suicide in the year 2000.
Suicide rates vary considerably across countries, ranging from less than one per 100,000/year in middle-east countries to more than 40 per 100,000/year in  some parts of former Soviet Union countries (WHO 2003). Worldwide suicide rates rose dramatically between 1950 and 1995 with a 35% increase in males and a 10% increase in females (WHO 2003). More males take their lives than females. Methods by males are more lethal.
Recently we have been confronted in this country with people taking their lives for one reason or the other. There were persons frustrated out of school who did not commit suicide; who later became celebrities in their respective endeavours. People lost goods and property in market fires and are moving on. Many have lost their family members in accidents, and mysterious circumstance and have not resorted to deliberate-self harm.
In parts II and III we shall review why people commit suicide; their innate tendencies. And lastly we shall discuss what to do to prevent people in such entrapments killing themselves. Studies have confirmed that those with any form of religious faith/prayer plus clinical interventions recover faster from their medical problems; integrate better into the society; and have better quality of life indices; than those treated medically and psychologically alone.
All these and more in the next week’s edition using our Religion, Spirituality and faith to heal from within and prevent suicidality.