Suicide: Men are more likely to end lives than women, says Neuropsychiatrist

Dr Uchendu Onyedika, a Neuropsychiatrist with the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, says though more women tend to attempt suicide; men are however, more likely to succeed in ending their lives.

Suicide (patrika)

According to him, men are more likely to end their lives because they are more decisive and they tend to complete whatever they decide to do.

He added that women on the other hand, were more emotional and more likely to try to seek attention by attempting to kill themselves than actually being able to do so.

Onyedika noted that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death globally, with approximately 12 in 100,000 people deliberately ending their own lives.

According to him, most people who commit suicide have been experiencing depression for a while, adding that causes of depression varies from sudden tragic life events such as accidents, which often lead to physical disability.

He further listed other factors as loss of livelihood, loved ones and jobs, as well as prolonged periods of hardship and diagnoses of chronic or terminal diseases.

Onyedika said though a significant number of people who often committed suicide might not necessarily have been depressed for a while; they could have suffered very disgraceful events of life and incurred shame and loss of their self-dignity.

For example an act of infidelity to one’s spouse uncovered and made public, especially when a lady is involved, or for persons with chronic medical illnesses such a seizure disorder, which often occurs in public.

“Also patients with mental illness who may have had a relapse in the open and only become aware of their environment after regaining consciousness.

“Another noteworthy cause of completed suicide is auditory hallucinations, which are voices of unseen persons, which sometimes instruct victims to go and kill themselves by various means.

“Some recorded acts of complete suicide and others of attempted suicide have been from victims’ obedience to these unseen voices,’’ Onyedika said.

He mentioned other factors that could predispose one to suicide to include substance misuse such as alcohol dependence which had been linked to higher risk of suicide and genetics.

Onyedika listed other signs of suicidal persons as loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities and loss of appetite.

Others he said, included disturbed sleep pattern, expressions of despair, hopelessness, helplessness, pulling away from friends and family, increased alcohol or psychoactive substance abuse, increased risk taking behaviour, rage and irritability.

Also, sometimes a sudden change in mood for the better, `usually close to when the act of suicide is to be committed’.

The Neuropsychiatrist said further that many victims of suicide had in one way or the other expressed their suicidal intents to their close friends, as well as on the social media, but were not taken seriously.

“Comments like, `he mentioned being tired of life a couple of times but I never took him seriously.

“Was there something I could have done? I should have seen it coming, are common words expressed by close friends and relatives of victims after the attempted or completed suicide.

“We must know that most people do not want to die; they just want the pain of the moment to stop.

“If we observe there is tendency to commit suicide by a person, we should commit to lovingly finding out the person’s problems and offer advice or help to resolve the problems, we will save such persons from death,’’ he said.

Onyedika said everyone needed high level of suspicion and awareness to recognise persons with such tendencies in order to offer a listening ear, advice and take them to a Psychiatrist for proper evaluation, psychotherapy and possibly, medications.

Suicide is not inevitable; we only need to be more sensitive and helpful, more conscious of signs and symptoms of depression, and more enlightened on likely predispositions to the act of suicide.

“If also, we are all ready to be our brother’s keeper, then we will help not a few souls in averting untimely death,’’ Onyedika said. 

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