(This is the second post in this series; my first post discusses the most popular current theory of suicide as well as some statistics on it.)
In the lead-up to this years WSPD I’ve seen many videos aimed at individuals who currently feel suicidal, encouraging them not to act on that feeling. But that can’t be the full story for such a large goal as preventing suicide. So, my question for today is- what does “suicide prevention” actually mean? What areas does it cover, and how does it work?
According to Wikipedia, suicide prevention is “the collective efforts of citizen organisations, health professionals and related professionals to reduce the incidence of suicide”. This is centred on direct intervention accompanied by four supporting parts: treating depression, improving people’s coping strategies, reducing risk factors for suicide, and giving people hope.
(This is the first post in this series; later posts will discuss suicide prevention strategies and the evidence supporting them.)
September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day, a day of awareness held by the International Association of Suicide Prevention (IASP) alongside the World Federation for Mental Health and the World Health Organisation.
After reading about the day and the organisations involved, I was curious about how suicide is understood from a research perspective, and what explanations or theories about suicide are used to talk about suicide prevention. This post covers a widely-used theoretical approach – the Interpersonal-Psychological theory of suicide. The interpersonal-psychological theory (IPT for short) was first created by Joiner (2005), and is the theory used to guide the IASP.
Trigger Warning: This whole post is about themes of suicidal thoughts and responses to them. There isn’t anything graphic or too detailed, but don’t read this post if that theme’s not a good idea for you.
I have a strange history with the word inevitable. One one hand, it’s a warning sign. It’s the red flag which warns me I’m about to lose days to the thoughts rattling around my head and blocking everything I care about. When I start to believe that returning to the past is inevitable, that failure is guaranteed while everything good that’s happened since was just temporary solace- that’s how I know a bad time is imminent. When things are bad, the word inevitable gets lodged in my mind, poisoning everything I experience. But at one point, the phrase “delaying the inevitable” was the most helpful thing I’d heard for months.