Most societies view suicide in a negative fashion, but the overall societal opinion of suicide does tend to vary depending on factors such as religion and culture. Some people are of the opinion that suicide is always the result of mental illness and that suicide is in fact a crime. Others can view suicide as an understandable way out of inescapable situations or even as an act of honor.
The statistics with regard to suicide can be frightening. There are apparently 10 to 20 million suicide attempts worldwide every year, with about one million of this number resulting in death. Occasionally, suicides are not recognized as such and thus this number could even be higher. Suicidal deaths are not limited to adults or even adolescents - a relatively high number of 10 to 14 year-old kill themselves each year. Statistics also show that suicide is more common in men - of all ages - than women, and minority groups such as the LGBT community are often more vulnerable to suicide. In fact, suicide is the third most common form of death in those aged 10 to 24 and, frighteningly, the number of suicides increased greatly in the 60 or so years after 1950 - by up to 300%.
So how do we treat those with suicidal tendencies. Firstly, it is necessary to adapt treatment to the individual. Patients who have a good family life and a reasonably developed support system often only require some brief intervention, but in the case of those with a heightened intent to take their own lives, more serious measures are clearly necessary. Suicidal tendencies might be worsened by alcohol or drug abuse. In severe cases, hospitalization may be required.
In order to defeat suicidal tendencies, it is necessary for the doctor or psychiatrist to implement an outpatient plan of action that will involve a change of lifestyle or a certain regime to be undertaken by the patient. The underlying psychiatric problems need to be urgently identified, addressed and, if at all possible, resolved. Since some patients will not be willing to adhere to the recommended outpatient regime, any dangerous weapons or medication should be removed from the abode or vicinity of the patient, if possible.
The therapy will focus on trying to make the patients understand their own thought processes. This is known as cognitive behavioral therapy. In many schools and colleges, intervention programs now exist in order to try and educate younger people about the risks of depression.
Numerous anti-depressant medications are used to try to treat those with suicidal tendencies. Some believe that these drugs only serve to increase the frequency of suicide attempts, but in reality, research has shown that the use of these medications has led to a reduction in the number of successful suicides. In fact, suicide levels were actually shown to increase in 2003 and 2004, years when the prescription of anti-depressant medication was reduced. The medications used may include lithium, clozapine, aripiprazole and risperidone.