Suicide species: Why some people kill themselves?

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Suicide and suicidal behaviors are very rare in animals and seem to be more of defensive nature unlike in humans that is not so, but intentional and against life. (1-2) Suicide in humans is a global issue that has resulted in 842,000 deaths globally in 2013, up from 712,000 deaths in 1990. (3) This makes it the 10th leading cause of death worldwide. (4) 75% of suicides globally occur in the developing world. Rates of completed suicides are generally higher in men than in women, ranging from 1.5 times as much in the developing world to 3.5 times in the developed world. (5) There are an estimated 10 to 20 million non-fatal attempted suicides every year. (6) Non-fatal suicide attempts may lead to injury and long-term disabilities. In the Western world, attempts are more common in young people and females, and suicide is the second cause of death among adolescents after accidents. (7-8)


Factors that affect the risk of suicide include mental disorders, drug misuse, psychological states, cultural, family and social situations, and genetics. (8) Mental disorders and substance misuse frequently co-exist. (9) Other risk factors include having previously attempted suicide, the ready availability of a means to take one’s life, a family history of suicide. (7) For example, suicide rates have been found to be greater in households with firearms than those without them. (10) Socio-economic problems such as unemployment, poverty, Homelessness, and discrimination may trigger suicidal thoughts. (11) About 15–40% of people leave a suicide note. (12) Genetics appears to account for between 38% and 55% of suicidal behaviors. (13) War veterans have a higher risk of suicide due in part to higher rates of mental illness such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and physical health problems related to war. (14)


Half of all people who die by suicide may have major depressive disorder; and having a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder increases the risk of suicide 20-fold. (6) Other mental disorders’ risk of suicide are Schizophrenia (14%) that leads about 5% of such patients die from suicide, borderline personality disorder, PTSD, eating disorder, and substance use disorders. (6-7, 15) Approximately 20% of suicides have had a previous attempt, and of those who have attempted suicide, 1% complete suicide within a year, and more than 5% die by suicide within 10 years. (7) Acts of self-harm are not usually suicide attempts and most who self-harm are not at high risk of suicide. Some who self-harm, however, do still end their life by suicide, and risk for self-harm and suicide may overlap. (16)

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