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Student suicides: Interrelated and Underlying Contributing Factors

The Deadly Effects of Pain and Hopelessness

Pain according to a clinical study has been associated with the desire for hastened death but people experiencing severe depression and hopelessness are more likely to develop suicidal ideation.  Suicidal ideation according to the study performed by a Pain and Psychiatry Services group among cancer patients was not directly caused by intense pain but the degree of depression and mood disturbances. This is because although majority or 87% of the 185 cancer patients who had experienced significant pain and expressed their desire to end their lives, none of them intend to act.  Since patient’s perception of poor relief, a state often associated with aspects of hopelessness and subsequent desire for hastened death, pain is an indirect but powerful contributor to suicidal ideation.

Student suicides: Interrelated and Underlying Contributing Factors

Pain according to the literature affects a person’s quality of life, sense of control, and weakens the ability of family members to provide support; pain, not motives is the most cause of suicide thoughts and behavior on campus.  Along with risk factors such as difficulties in the relationship, substance abuse, impulsive and aggressive behavior, family history, and others, 1 in 10 college students seriously considers suicide due to significant depression.

The most common and most painful is the death of a loved one and associated grief as such can trigger an assortment of negative reactions such as anxiety, remorse, rage, and other. However, assessment of the student’s suicidal intention suggests that in terms of determining how far a student will go (including death), knowledge and understanding of student’s perception regarding the pain are more important than his or her situation.

This is because, in a suicidal person experiencing extreme psychological pain or “psychache” a term coined by Edwin Shneidman in 2005, anything that is perceived as a viable solution to escape his or her emotional desperation and unbearable emotions can lead to escalation.

Student suicides: Interrelated and Underlying Contributing Factors

Suicide occurs more often in older than in younger people, but is still one of the leading causes of death in late childhood and adolescence worldwide. This not only results in a direct loss of many young lives, but also has disruptive psychosocial and adverse socio-economic effects. From the perspective of public mental health, suicide among young people is a main issue to address. Therefore we need good insight in the risk factors contributing to suicidal behavior in youth.

This mini review gives a short overview of the most important risk factors for late school-age children and adolescents, as established by scientific research in this domain. Key risk factors found were: mental disorders, previous suicide attempts, specific personality characteristics, genetic loading and family processes in combination with triggering psychosocial stressors, exposure to inspiring models and availability of means of committing suicide. Further unraveling and knowledge of the complex interplay of these factors is highly relevant with regard to the development of effective prevention strategy plans for youth suicide.


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Warning Signs, Triggers, Risk and Protective Factors

Some of the warning signs that a person experiencing intense pain and extreme emotional desperation will take his own life  include withdrawal, giving away his or her prized possessions, talking about death, refusing help, verbal threats, and others. The conditions that will likely trigger pursuit of suicidal ideation, on the other hand, include embarrassment, bullying, sudden transitions or change of circumstances, substance abuse, conflict, bullying, and others. Risk factors are gender, race, cognitive or emotional, others.

Study of suicidal behavior in high school and college students suggests that predictors of suicidal ideation are similar to both genders and races. Males reported greater loneliness and substance abuse than females. Depression and suicidal ideation are common among females, but they fear death and injury more than males who, according to the study have greater fear of social disapproval.

Carrying a weapon at school is predictive of suicidal attempts among males of all ethnicities while perceived parent and family connectedness is a protective factor for black, Hispanic, and white boys and girls.  Finally, in terms of coping and help seeking attitude, boys often used maladaptive coping strategies such keeping the problem to themselves, hiding their feelings,  and using drugs and alcohol.

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