Suicide in today’s society

Much has been written and considered about suicide in today’s society, but really this is a social scourge both past and present, and it has already been characterized as a public health problem.

According to the World Health Organization, around 800 thousand people commit suicide every year, which means one death every 40 seconds. It is the second leading cause of death for people between 15 and 19 years of age.

Suicide mortality rates are higher than total mortality rates caused by war and homicides; 75% of suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries.

In addition, there is an estimate that by 2020 the morbidity in terms of suicide will have exceeded 2.4% in the developed countries and in the former socialist countries.

Suicide yesterday and today

With these statistics, It is logical that there is alarm in the multilateral organizations dedicated to the health of the world population, especially when suicide is associated with psychopathological, moral, social and economic implications.

These factors are far from being addressed and resolved or they are part of the public agenda in countries with high suicide rates.

Previously, suicide rates were in elderly men, but currently that record has taken a worrying turnBecause the scourge of this problem is affecting the young population, men and women.

The indices have increased to the point where youth are the highest risk group in many developed and developing countries.

A desperate society?

Until time, no one has found the real cause that leads a society to present high levels of suicide, However, various authors, researches and institutions dedicated to this topic, consider that there are many “social situations that lead to suicide in a desperate and unnecessary way”.

And it is that the current social organization it is “abusive, unfair and subtly authoritarian, where competition, selfish individualism and the love of money have been fostered above all else”, according to studies.

Which means that Today’s society suffers from economic subjection, objectification, alienation and moral decomposition,
and it supposes the increase in the number of increasingly isolated, depressed, apathetic, neurotic people, without life goals or motivation to set or achieve their own goals.

It is not a mental illness

Though there are some events that mark milestones in a society from which suicides increase, such as wars, economic crises, epidemics and diseases, dictatorships and political subjugations, among others, that lead to mental imbalances, it is also true that suicide has not been determined to be a mental health problem.

The findings on the causes of suicide point more to an existential difficulty due to stress, not having tools to take control of life or seeking the necessary and timely professional help.

When an individual is marginalized or excluded from a system, his personal and social scheme is being broken, which leads to a state of sadness, frustration, disappointment and depression.

As you know, depression is related to suicide and is a real health problem due to its high incidence and its consequences, which alter the production system. In addition, it is associated with the early disability of people of productive age and affects not only the person, but also their family and social environment.

It is possible that factors such as stress, lack of empathy, individualism, competitiveness and the high demands of today’s society have a lot to do with the increase in depression and its consequent high suicide rate.

Nevertheless, no government has taken measures to reduce this incidence, not even to determine the causes that lead people to make the decision to kill themselves.

Everything that is associated with public health, and in this case suicide, is supposed to it requires an economic outlay directed to information, education and awareness campaigns that many governments are unwilling to undertake.

Suicide and the media

There are doubts about whether the suicide data are real, In view of the fact that many deaths from this cause are registered as accidents, Suicide has not ceased to be a social taboo for fear of the Werther effect, also known as social contagion.

According to WHO it is advisable not to publish the suicide facts on the front page of newspapers or magazines, nor give many details about how the victim carried out the act. This is taken into account by the State institutions so as not to disseminate the details of these events.

The Werther effect is a phenomenon that owes its name to Young Werther’s Sorrows, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s 1774 novel, in which the main character takes his own life for his suffering for love, and according to related literature, many young people who read the story decided to commit suicide in the way that the character did.

Faced with this phenomenon, the authorities of Germany, Italy and Denmark banned the novel. The name of the Werther effect was coined by David Phillips in 1974, a sociologist who did a study between 1947 and 1968 that showed that “the number of suicides increased throughout the United States the month after the New York Times published a suicide-related story on the front page.”

An obligatory reference case that demonstrates the aforementioned effect is the “suicide epidemic” that became evident in 1962 after the death of Marilyn Monroe. There is also the effect produced by the suicide of the guitarist and vocalist of the group Nirvana, Kurt Cobain.

The story also recalls the “Yukko Syndrome”, a phenomenon referring to the suicide of 31 Japanese teenagers after their idol, the singer Yukiko Okada, jumped from a seventh floor.

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