Addressing the Silent Pandemic of Suicide
Suicide is a growing problem that cannot be ignored. In Spain alone, over 4,000 people commit suicide annually. Claudia Tecglen, president of Convives con Spasticidad, psychologist, and Princess of Girona Award 2022 recipient in the social category, urges society to collectively address this issue. Suicide, although a widely-discussed topic, is rarely associated with people with disabilities.
Failing on Many Fronts
Failing to offer emotional education to children, promoting competitiveness over collaboration, and subjecting individuals to the tyranny of happiness are among the numerous factors contributing to suicide. In a hyper-connected society, individuals are continuously comparing themselves to others, which may lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. Moreover, the goal-oriented society that we are living in neglects personal growth, self-reflection, and perseverance.
The Impact on People with Disabilities
People with disabilities are disproportionately affected by suicide. Barriers in employment, education, leisure, and social relations often lead to low self-esteem and unwanted loneliness. Chronic pain and misconceptions about disabilities further contribute to feelings of helplessness and lack of purpose. Even more alarming, suicide rates among people with disabilities are higher than the general population.
Strategies for Prevention
Preventing suicide is essential, and there are several strategies to achieve this goal. Resources, such as mental health professionals and support groups, should be utilized. Additionally, a fully accessible National Suicide Prevention Plan and Survivor Support Network should be established. Research on autolytic and self-injurious behaviors and suicide is also imperative to develop better prevention models.
Detecting Red Flags
Identifying red flags is vital in suicide prevention. Phrases such as “life sucks,” “it’s better to end everything,” and “I would like to fall asleep and never wake up” should not be taken lightly. Withdrawal from previously enjoyable activities is a warning sign, as is a sudden change in behavior.
Messages of Hope
Suicide is not the only way out. Focusing on what can be done and applauding oneself for overcoming challenges is essential for positive mental health. Mental health problems are spoken about more frequently, but more depth and attention are needed. Cultivating authentic relationships and providing equal opportunities for people with disabilities can prevent unwanted loneliness and decrease suicide rates.