“Only those who live it understand the depth of pain”






“I understand you” is the message sent by Julia (not her real name), a 26-year-old girl who tried to commit suicide when she was convinced that she “wanted to be dead.” “It is a very extreme situation And, from the outside, problems are always seen as nonsense that may or may not have a solution. Only those who live it understand the depth of pain “. For her, young people face a “lack of outlets and understanding”, also bathed by the taboo, decreasing, yes, that surrounds self-inflicted death. “I try to speak as little as possible about the subject,” he tells RTVE.es, and adds: “Nobody wants to be near a person with suicidal ideation or depression because sadness is contagious.”

Death by suicide seriously affects Spanish youth: it is the leading cause of unnatural death in young people, even above traffic accidents. According to the Suicide Observatory in Spain, 300 people between the ages of 15 and 29 took their own lives in 2020. Julia acknowledges that she has not yet fully recovered, but is clear that deaths by suicide can be prevented. “I would have liked that someone close, from the circle, who knew how I was, had made me feel loved and not expendable.”

Young people are one of the most vulnerable groups with regard to suicidal ideation, as recalled by mental health professional Beatriz Jiménez. It is estimated that until the age of 21 the brain is not fully formed and during adolescence it undergoes a series of “important” changes at the hormonal, physical, identity and personality levels. “There are many insecurities, many fears, lack of communication with parents and poor emotional regulation “, he observed in a conversation with RTVE.es.

Rise in suicides in the youngest

According to the report Grow Healthy (mind) that Save the Children unveiled this Tuesday, the pandemic has affected this risk by tripling the number of mental disorders in children and adolescents, one of the many factors that can contribute to the development of suicidal behavior. However, for the psychologist Beatriz Jiménez, and as the report itself remarks, the coronavirus has been nothing but the last straw that has filled the camel’s back with “a problem that has been a problem for a long time and that is not being addressed.”

The National Institute of Statistics (INE) collects from 1980 to 2020 data on suicide deaths and self-harm. An increase in cases has been observed in the last decade, since 2010. In that year, 28 boys and girls between the ages of 15 and 19 died, while in 2019 they lost their lives 68 and, in 2020, 48. The same happens with children up to fourteen years: 3 died by suicide in 2010 compared to 13 in 2020 and seven in 2019.

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Another noteworthy piece of information offered by the INE is the difference between female and male sex. According to statistics, boys make up 75%. In 2020, 13 girls took their lives compared to 48 boys. A historical ratio of 1 to 3 that, although with certain nuances in the ages, the WHO also confirms when it echoes a suicide rate of more than double in men.

Risk factors, “a perfect storm”

Suicidal behavior, points out the psychologist Beatriz Jiménez, it is a multifactorial and multicausal phenomenon. “A mix of different factors can come together and lead to that situation.” It’s like “a perfect storm,” he adds. However, it is possible to take into account certain risks that have been shown to be related to death by suicide in young people and minors.

The depression, the substance abuse like alcohol and Eating disorder are some of the most associated. So are the autoexigencia, perfectionism, the tendency to dichotomous thinking, the low self-esteem, the withdrawn character and the “inability or difficulty to establish social relationships.” Minors who have experienced serious family conflicts, violent acts or abuse such as bullying are equally vulnerable, as well as young people from the LGTBI community who face social rejection.

Also, the unemployment, low incomes and the difficulty accessing services specialized health care services influence deaths by suicide.

Como recoge Save the Children, children living in low-income households are four times more likely to suffer from mental disorders or behavioral than those in high-income households. Jiménez also points to the false perfection and perennial happiness that the social networks as a cause of self-demand and emotional invalidation which can contribute to developing, for example, low self-esteem and eating disorders.

Red flags: apathy, habit changes, and closing behaviors

Most of the people who commit suicide, “Between 90% and 80% gave warning signs in the last week before committing suicide.” This is what Jiménez contemplates from his experience as a professional companion of a support group in Ávila, which among its objectives is to psychologically shelter those who have lost their loved ones in this sudden way along with that of preventing suicide.

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For Julia, “apathy, seclusion in personal space and loneliness” are characteristic. The psychologist also points to anxiety symptoms, change of habits sleep or feeding, the drop in academic performance Y closing behaviors how to distribute objects. Adolescents, moreover, “it is very normal for them to express emotional pain through physical complaints like stomach or headache pain, “he explains.

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The taboo and lack of education about suicide also means that even suicide bombers go unnoticed. verbal manifestations. “I am worth nothing”, “my life has no meaning”, “you would be better off without me” and “I am a burden to everyone” are some of the phrases that many of the people who try to end their lives express days before .

The psychologist Javier Jiménez, from the AIPIS Network Association, tells the story of a mother whose daughter said she wanted to take her own life the next day: “The mother told him not to wait for tomorrow as she believed that what he was saying was not true”. But the young woman, who finally received help, tried to do it that very moment.

“When people end up dead, those ‘calls for attention’ end up being ‘signals’ and the regrets come,” says Julia, who advocates “learning not to question the emotions of others.”

Emotional damage: a “tsunami” for families

As the psychologist explains, people with suicidal ideation tend to have a “high degree of distress” that they are unable to see themselves as transitory and to consider themselves expendable in their environment. But “they are two distorted visions,” he observes. Parents, friends, siblings know this well … Those known as “survivors” of suicide. “The tsunami that remains in families after a suicide should be known“, explains Emi Caidas, who lost her teenage son 10 years ago.

A part of your life is going away and you are not the same again

When it happens, “a part of your life goes away and you are not the same again and what you want is to die,” he tells RTVE.es. “Parents are not prepared to lose a child. That hopelessness and that painful feeling may be what they have felt “, he says, after putting himself in the shoes of young people. In his case, he had “no sign”, on the contrary, his son was “funny, loving, motivated”. For this reason, he recommends that those close to him listen to them, “that they let them express everything they have inside.”

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Marina (not her real name) also lost her son at the age of 21 and still cannot understand why: “He He didn’t see a future and the past weighed heavily on him “. When he took his own life, his brother was 20 years old and also needed, like his mother, psychological help. “They were friends and brothers. It affected him a lot and I had to sleep with him in his room for the first seven months,” she says. The guilt, the “why” and the “what would have happened if” haunt the whole family, as both mothers acknowledge.

Now, they want to help other parents who are going through the same grief, but also those who suspect suicidal ideation in their children or the children and adolescents themselves. “It is vital to make them understand how important they are in our lives”, contributes one of the mothers.

Family members of victims and mental health professionals call for a state plan for suicide prevention

Guides, apps and phones to prevent suicide

The following guides, apps and phones They have the objective of preventing suicide and also, in some cases, of helping both in the process of mourning a self-inflicted death and in recovery after an attempt to kill oneself. Prevention, as the psychologist Beatriz Jiménez recalls, must be “everyone’s job”. Many changes are necessary in the educational and health systems, both mothers, Julia and professionals acknowledge RTVE.es. But you can also contribute: download, share and talk about suicide.

– Guides

  • In the guide LIVE LIFE The WHO encourages measures such as bullying prevention programs and clear protocols for people who work in schools and universities when the risk of suicide is detected.
  • The Association for Suicide Research, Prevention and Intervention (AIPIS) has developed several guides for both teachers and bereaved relatives and to serve as self-help.

– Phones

  • Hope phone: 717 00 37 17
  • Helpline for Minors of the ANAR Foundation: 900 20 20 10
  • European Union Helpline for Children: 116 111
  • Anti-suicide telephone number of the Barandilla Association: 911 385 385

– Applications


www.rtve.es

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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