Suicide is the process of purposely ending one's own life. How societies view suicide varies by culture, religion, ethnic norms, and the circumstances under which it occurs.
Nearly a million people worldwide commit suicide each year -- about 30,000 each year in the United States.
Self-mutilation is the act of deliberately hurting oneself without meaning to cause one's own death.
Physician-assisted suicide is defined as a doctor ending the life of a person who is incurably ill in a way that is either painless or minimally painful for the purpose of ending suffering of the individual.
The effects of suicide on the loved ones of the deceased can be devastating, resulting in suicide survivors enduring a variety of conflicting, painful emotions.
Life circumstances that may immediately precede a suicide include the time period of at least a week after discharge from a psychiatric hospital, a sudden change in how the person appears to feel, or a real or imagined loss.
Firearms are the most common means by which people take their lives. Other common methods include overdose of medication, asphyxiation, and hanging.
There are gender, age, ethnic and geographical risk factors for suicide, as well as those based on family history, life stresses, and medical and mental-health status.
In children and teens, bullying and being bullied seem to be associated with their committing suicide, and being bullied may put them at risk for committing murder-suicide.
Warning signs that an individual is imminently planning to kill him- or herself may include the making of a will, getting his/her affairs in order, suddenly visiting loved ones, buying instruments of suicide, experiencing a sudden change in mood, or writing a suicide note.
Many people who complete suicide do not tell any health professional of their intent in the months before they do so. If they communicate a plan to anyone, it is more likely to be a friend or family member.
The assessment of suicide risk often involves an evaluation of the presence, severity, and duration of suicidal thoughts as part of a mental-health evaluation.
Treatment of suicidal thinking or attempt involves adapting immediate treatment to the sufferer's individual needs. Those with a strong social support system, who have a history of being hopeful and have a desire to resolve conflicts may need only a brief crisis-oriented intervention. Those with more severe symptoms or less social support may need hospitalization and long-term mental-health services.
Treatment of any underlying emotional problem using a combination of psychotherapy, safety planning, and medication remains the mainstay of suicide prevention.
People who are contemplating suicide are encouraged to talk to a doctor or other health professional, spiritual advisor, or immediately go to the closest emergency room or mental-health crisis center for help. Those who have experienced suicidal thinking are commonly directed to keep a list of people to call in the event that those thoughts return. Other strategies include having someone hold all medications to prevent overdose, removing any weapons from the home, scheduling frequent stress-relieving activities, getting together with others, writing down feelings, and avoiding the use of alcohol or other drugs.
Techniques for coping with the suicide of a loved one include nutritious eating, getting extra rest, talking to others about the experience, thinking of ways to handle painful memories, understanding their state of mind will vary, resisting pressure to grieve by any one else's time table, and survivors doing what is right for them.
To help children and adolescents cope with the suicide of a loved one it is important to ensure they receive consistent caretaking, frequent interaction with supportive adults, and understanding of their feelings as they relate to their age