Suicide peaks in young people: A crisis that needs to be acknowledged

According to the Current Dutch Suicide Registration Committee (CANS) 2023 report, around 1885 people in the country died by suicide last year. What’s more disheartening is that the suicide rate among people under the age of 30 has increased by 17% since 2013. Although a downtrend has been observed in the suicide rate among middle-aged people, the vast majority of suicides are reported in young people.

It is shocking that suicide is the number one cause of death in young people, more than any other health condition. It is extremely important to approach this complex issue with utmost sensitivity and understanding. While individual experience varies greatly, multiple factors could contribute to suicidal ideation. The phenomenon of suicide is often individualized, allowing society to escape accountability.

Mental health disorders
Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are among the key reasons driving up the suicide rate. Unnoticed and untreated mental illnesses can result in such decisions. Trauma, such as psychological, physical and sexual abuse, community violence, neglect and other adverse childhood experiences, could have a long-lasting impact on an individual’s mindset. These reasons are strong enough to cause suicide if left untreated and inadequately managed. Peer pressure, bullying, rejection other social factors can also have a devastating impact on an individual’s sanity and thought process. Continuous bullying can lower self-esteem and instigate mental health issues, leading to suicidal thoughts.

Failed aspiration for a better future is also one of the reasons for suicides in young people. A better future is not just limited to an economic future, it also points out to a future in which young people have autonomy and freedom to make decisions. If they do not feel such a future is possible, suicide may be the result. It is also important to mention that most of the time, their aspirations are influenced by their peers or social media, and may be unrealistic.

Identity issues and discrimination
The LGBTQ community often faces criticism and rejection. It’s an easy target for stigma from society, peers and even their families. People who belong to this group often experience harassment, discrimination and bias in all walks of life. As a result, they are more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts and behaviour. According to the Social and Cultural Planning office, almost half of the people of this community have had suicidal thoughts at one point in their lives.

Substance abuse and addiction
Substance abuse and other lethal addictions are becoming global health concerns. This is an alarming situation for both developed and developing countries. Youngsters have been using these as a coping mechanism to lessen emotional pain and numb difficult feelings. However, this temporary relief is working as a silent killer for them and leading to suicidal behavior.

Financial instability
Unemployment and financial stress are other significant contributors that increase suicide risk. Financial woes give birth to negative thoughts and problems such as feelings of hopelessness, a sense of being a burden to others, and despair.

Lack of manpower in healthcare sector
The rising number of suicides could also be the result of a lack of capacity in healthcare. Due to less manpower, it takes more time for treatment of serious psychological problems.

A comprehensive and multi-faceted approach is needed to prevent suicide among young people. Some effective strategies could be facilitating access to mental health services, promoting mental health awareness, fostering a supportive environment, screening and early invention, helping young people learn coping skills and resilience, educating parents and caregivers, providing a positive environment, timely treatment of problems and many more. It is essential to acknowledge that suicidal thoughts are not just an individual problem, but a national crisis and that taking measures to address the issue should be our collective responsibility. Youngsters are the future of the country. It is high time to raise awareness about mental health in schools, college and offices and inform youngsters that there is no shame in asking for help.

Written by Parul Sachdeva