Aquarela starts September engaged with the life valorization campaign, bringing to light a subject that has to be talked about. All the way from schools until the corporate word, mental suffering can be silently present of with colleague, neighbor or relative and a refuge can make all the difference for them.
Suicide is a phenomenon that is presents in all cultures, since the beginning of human history. It relates to characteristics related to emotional, mental social and economical aspects.
The person suffers from feelings’ ambivalence; they do not want to die, but they want to put an end to their psychic pain (or physical when dealing with chronical cases). Since the subject is seen as a taboo, full of prejudice, the subject gets stigmatized, which difficulties the reaching of for help or simply for having a conversation. The subject is simply avoided.
However, this year, the ‘blue whale’ “fever” as well as the ‘13 Reasons Why’ TV-Series raised the public interest regarding suicide. Some parents lost their sleep and search for information and gathered help from health professionals. But, the thought of suicide, is not present only on the minds of the young; it is present in other age groups, including the elderly. And that is one more reason why suicide has to be discussed.
The good news is that suicide can be prevented, as long as it gets treated as a case of public health associated to information and prevention projects. Below follows some relevant data.
World Health Organization Data
According to the Pan American Health Organization (PATH/WHO):
- over 800 000 people die every year from suicide;
- suicide the the second main death cause of young people between age of 15 and 29;
- only 60 of the 172 member nations provide data that is considered to have good quality;
- it is estimated that 28 countries have national suicide prevention strategies;
- in the Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020, the WHO member states have committed to reduce the suicide rates in 10% until 2020;
- around 75% of suicides happen in countries of medium and low income;
- men from wealthy countries commit three times more suicide than females;
- in high income countries the highest suicide rates are related to abuse of alcohol and depression;
- 90% of all suicides can be avoided;
- in Brazil the average is of 6 to 7 death for every 100 000 inhabitants, which is considered low. However, that data is not reliable, since the quality of data in our country has a lot of room for improvements.
“Every 40 seconds one person dies by suicide”
Artificial Intelligence and suicide
Artificial Intelligence (AI) can provide means for identifying patterns and suicial behavioral tendencies, helping to refine preventive actions.
Recently suicidal movements, such as the previously mentioned ‘Blue Whale’, have gained visibility through their dissemination on the social networks. There are also cases of people who manifestate their feeling individually, also through the social networks.
Considering that, the implementation of Artificial Intelligence algorithms and big data techniques can provide precise inference regarding individuals which need help. Companies like Facebook, Instagram and Google have already announced that they will use AI on their platforms for providing warnings and prevention.
But much more can be done with the new technologies, putting together technologists, teachers, professors, psychologists and other professionals. They can provide preventive measures and identify possible suicidals, and they can also provide protection through means of a support network.
An analysis from Aquarela
Based on the death records of 645 municipalities from the state of São Paulo, Joni Hoppen, one of the Aquarela’s founders, found out that:
- from 300 000 deaths, 2.223 were suicides;
- he identified that most of the deaths are unknown or not informed professions. The exception were masons;
- the lack of professional identification can lead to suicide, or, health professionals and family have great difficulties describing those peoples’ jobs;
- Joni had difficulties trying to identify if masons really committed suicide, or if the deaths are related to work accidents which were informed as suicided due to labor issues;
- he applied a filter for “lawyers” which returned 18. The ratio of lawyers in the state in comparison which other professional occupations such as janitors, shopkeepers and security guards indicates that favorable economic situation are also present in the statistics;
- male with high scholarity commit more suicide;
You can see the whole post (in Portuguese) here.
Humans construct their identity based on personal, social and professional relations. Jobs represent socio-historical meanings, the role of an individual in the society and this roles affects how each person is seen by the other and also how they evaluate themselves. When those visions became dysfunctional health issues such as depression and suicidal thoughts can appear..
In order for people that are considering suicide not to be ashamed or afraid of reaching out for professional help, it is necessary to have information and welcoming environment.
It is necessary to be open to their pains and sufferings, without judgment or prejudices, showing interest and being available for them.
The discussion of the issue helps the population as well institutions to establish strategies and prevention. One of the objectives when intervening is to recover the self esteem, promote emotional well-being and to establish bonds of affection that can provide a support network for the individuals.
In Brazil, we have the Centro de Valorização da Vida (CVV) (Health Valorization Center), a NGO that provides free voluntary services of emotional aid and suicide prevention through chat, telephone, Skype and email. Alway with keeping the individual’s privacy.
Booklet distributed by the Conselho Federal de Medicina (Federal Council of Medicine): http://www.flip3d.com.br/web/pub/cfm/index9/?numero=14#page/1
WHO’s first report on suicide: http://www.who.int/mental_health/suicide-prevention/world_report_2014/en/