Suicide is the act of intentionally and voluntarily killing oneself. Suicide rates are increasing globally. Adult males are three to five times more likely to commit suicide than females however females are more likely to attempt suicide. Most suicides occur in people below the age of 40.

Suicide is a complex act that represents the end result of a combination of factors in any individual. These factors include biological vulnerabilities, life history, occupation, present social circumstances, and the availability of means for committing suicide. While these factors do not “cause” suicide, some people are at greater risk of self-harm than others. There are risk factors for suicide which include:

  • Male sex.
  • Being over age 75.
  • A family history of suicide.
  • A history of previous suicide attempts.
  • A history of abuse during childhood.
  • Recent stressful events such separation or divorce, job loss, bankruptcy, upsetting medical diagnosis and death of spouse or partner.
  • Medical illness. Persons in treatment for such serious or incurable diseases as AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and certain types of cancer are at increased risk of suicide.
  • Employment as a police officer, firefighter, doctor, nurse, dentist or member of another high-stress occupation.
  • Presence of firearms in the home. Death by firearms is the most common method for women as well as men.

The recent high profile suicides of designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain prove that depression and mental illness affect both genders and fame and fortune does not make a person immune from stress, depression and mental illness. What we see is not a true reflection of an individual’s emotional and psychological wellbeing. The actor, Robin Williams, appeared to many to be fine yet suffered from depression for decades. When we ask someone how they are doing do we really pay attention to what they say and furthermore do you genuinely care? If someone says they are feeling down what comment do you make? Do you offer a listening ear or do you brush it off and tell him/her to perk up?

We must do more to reach out to those who we know or suspect to be going through a challenging time. Mental health professionals argue that suicide is potentially preventable when the early signs of depression and anxiety are treated as soon as possible. Being aware, kind and caring to those around us can possibly make a difference in saving someone’s life.

Ms. Jolene King has over 15 years business management and HR international experience gained in the UK, USA and Barbados. She holds a MA degree in Human Resource Management from University of Derby, a MSc. degree in Industrial/Organisational Psychology from Florida Institute of Technology and a BSc. degree in Sociology with Psychology from University of the West Indies, Cave Hill. Ms. King is an active committee member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) Northamptonshire branch and is an Associate member of the Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology (SIOP).