Suicide refers to the action of an intentional ending of oneself through self-inflicted death. Different societies have a varying understanding of suicide; the differences occur because of religion, culture or the nature of the society. For example, the western society as well as the Judo-Christian religion’s view of suicide is mostly negative. Certain societies, particularly in the East can have exceptions for suicide depending on the context. When carried out as a form of political statement as in the case of the Tunisian youth who set himself on fire to spark the Arab revolutions or the Japanese fighters in the Second World War, who killed themselves to avoid capture by westerners. Extremist jihadist sometime commits suicide to preserve the honor for the movements. Still, suicide has been part of some of the most worrying phenomenon of human history. Regrettably, suicide is a bad way of dying. The mental suffering leading to suicide is prolonged, intense, and uncontrolled. The suffering of a suicidal person is private and inexpressible often leaving family members, friends, and relatives with unfathomable loss and a sense of guilt. In fact, suicide’s aftermath carries a high level of confusion, and confusion that is beyond description. This paper explores the causes of suicide and recommends the use of the concept of emotional intelligence to help victims.
Approximately 1 million people commit suicide each year across the world. It is estimated that there are approximately 10 million to 20 million suicide attempts on a global scale. Had these attempts translated into suicides, suicide would be the leading cause of death in the world. In the United States, leading causes of suicide include drug overdose, intentional driving accidents, overdose, shooting, among other causes. Hollie Hendrickson (2012) report that suicide is the number two cause of death among Americans between the ages 25-34. For the younger people of the ages 15-24, suicide is the third leading cause of death according to a report published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. On average, suicide is the eight all-time leading cause of death for males while sixth leading cause of death for females. Gay or Lesbian youths are more prone to suicide than heterosexuals are. In the year 2008, more than 660, 000 people were examined for suicidal related injuries. The report highlighted that for every one suicidal death, there are close to twenty-five attempts. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and National Institute of Mental Health reported that 8.3 million adult Americans have serious suicidal thoughts. About 2.2 million make suicidal plans and 1 million have attempted suicide in their lifetime. Hendrickson argues that the causes of suicide include depression, mental illness, feelings of isolation, and family history of suicide. Other causes may include bolstering clinical care for mental, physical, and substance abuse problems.
The Nations’ Health Magazine August 2010 issue that violent deaths especially homicide and suicide are three times higher among adult males than women are. Suicide rates are highest among American Indians and American whites. Moreover, the report details that although the older people over the age of eighty have traditionally been having higher rates of suicide, the new statistics show that there have been a shift to a younger 45-54 years bracket. Thirty percent of people who committed suicide had told someone of their intent while 22 percent of them had attempted suicide before.
Durkheim’s Theory on Suicide
Paul Robison (1998) report that Durkheim’s theory attempts to explain the cause of suicide. Durkheim’s thoughts on suicide have been influential in the study of suicide even though his work was documented long before the evolution of science of research. In his work, Durkheim attempts to distinguish sociology from psychology by using social facts to explain the causes of suicide. In the study, Durkheim reasons that suicide rates vary across different societies and different demographics. During his time, suicide rates were higher for married people than they were for the unmarried. In that regard, suicide goes beyond individual explanation. Suicide from the social perspectives is explained using two explanations. People’s connection to the society or the degree of external interference influences the likelihood of suicide. His analysis of suicide included suicide arising from ego, altruistic suicide, anomic suicide and fatalistic suicide. Each of the suicide occurs because of the situation arising from either too much attachment or too much deregulation.
Why People Commit Suicide
Evidently, the reasons why people commit suicide are complex and hard to understand, however, life circumstances and self-defeating attitude may be some key reasons why people give up. Redfield (2001) argued that mental problem is the primary instigators of suicidal thoughts. Suicidal people are imprisoned into the mental state of despair, hopelessness, depression, agitation and irritability. Studies from victims diaries, notes or clinical interviews demonstrate that more these feelings are prime causes of the individuals decision to resort to self inflicted death. There is a compelling evidence from scholastic work that report that more than 90 percent of suicide victims suffers from some form of psychiatric or addictive illness. These could be depression, schizophrenia, drug abuse, and severe anti-social syndrome. Some of the most common exhibitions of such tendencies include break up of romantic relationships, loss of freedom, loss of a job or loss of face in the public.
While environmental emotional factors explain a substantial amount of suicidal causes, genetics components also account for some suicide cases. Redfield (2001), accounts that “there is a genetic component that is probably independent, but interacts dangerously with, the genetic factors implicated in the major psychiatric illness” (p.3). The Science Daily Newspaper of March 28, 2011 reported that people with bipolar disorder could have a genetic risk factors that have could influence their thought on suicide. John Hopkins scientist identified a small segment of the human brain that is associated with people‘s ability to take the risk of attempting suicide. The region of the brain has genes that contain a large number of proteins for people who have attempted suicide tan for people who have not. There are parts of the brain that are deeply enmeshed in the volatility and the impetuousness that characterizes violence and mood swings that are closely linked to self-murder. For example, the famous Sylvia Plath who had undergone treatment for depression later killed herself. She had described the intense feeling of anger that she was feeling in one of poems. She described how she was feeling like entangling a stranger in the park, or how she felt like hot blood running on my body.
Individuals are affected by their surroundings in life. The things people view, read, believe, discount and the people met shape individual’s understanding of life. In the human concept, this is what determines reality. However, the human understanding of reality is not subjective and inconclusive. The five senses in the human mind play a pivotal role in shaping one’s understanding of reality, which is complex and ambiguous. This perception of oneself although varying widely determines why other people are susceptible to suicide than others. A person’s self-view as well their perception of how other people think of them is relevant in the soundness of mind that is a critical determiner of suicide.
The self-concept and worldview are side-by-side influence alongside the biochemical factors. Even though people can hold negative views on some things, the optimistic facets of life are enough to avoid depression, and subsequently suicide. If an individual’s emotional temperament is positive, the chances of going through a turmoil are increased and the individual increases the likelihood of going without depression.
How help Suicide Victims Using the Concept of Emotional Intelligence
What is emotional intelligence? According to psychologist Hein (1996), “emotional intelligence is the innate potential to feel, use, communicate, recognize, remember, describe, identify, learn from, manage understand and explain emotion” (p.1). Goleman defines emotional intelligence as “a person’s abilities to perceive, identify, understand, and successfully manage emotions in self and others. Goleman the author of the renowned book Emotional Intelligence capture a more detailed and descriptive conceptualization of emotional intelligence. He identifies fives sections of emotional intelligence: knowing one’s emotion; managing emotions; motivating one’s self; recognizing emotions in others and handling relationships (Goleman, p. 43). Goleman further states that people’s abilities in each of the five segments of emotional intelligence may differ, however, that does not mean that they certainly have no room for improvement. In my view, emotional intelligence can help people with suicidal thoughts.
Apart from anger management, an emotionally intelligent person masters other skills such as social arts: the ability to make friends and keep them around. This includes the talents to know how to talk with people, connect with them, and build relationships. In addition, the emotionally intelligent person also has a very clear understanding of self. With self-understanding, one will have intrapersonal intelligence. Intrapersonal intelligence is the correlative aptitude that accurately assess oneself in order to function efficiently in life. Having understood him or herself, one will now easily possess a great deal of interpersonal intelligence which is the capability to identify with other people, knowing them well enough to understand what motivates them, and how they operate, and how to work in one with them. People with such skills are more “resilient, more adaptable to changing situations and more willing to step outside their comfort zone. They are also open to new ideas and opinions. Most importantly, people with these skills are not broken down psychologically and thus less prone to suicide.
Most importantly, the person with a clear grasp of emotional intelligence exhibits a high level of motivation, faith, and optimism. He always believes that things will turn out for the best. His energy is always focused towards success, and he looks at challenges as obstacles that have to be passed in order to achieve a target, (p.88). Positive motivation is a quality that most people adept with emotional intelligence demonstrate. According to Goleman, “positive motivation is marshalling of feelings like enthusiasm and confidence to enhance achievement,” (p.79). Perhaps the most notable example is demonstrated by Abraham Lincoln. Historian Doris Goodwin has noted that president Lincoln’s success as a leader is for the most part, a function of his emotional intelligence. “Positive motivation involves marshalling of feelings like enthusiasm and confidence to enhance achievement,” (Goleman, p.79). The negative emotion therefore means marshalling feelings of depression and lack of interest to discourage success in a particular project. Emotional intelligence also involves recognizing the emotions in others which means that the feelings of empathy, pain, happiness and sadness for others points to how emotionally intelligent or how unintelligent a person may be. Emotional intelligence also builds on the understanding of others and if people are self aware of themselves. One’s ability to bond with another for the sake of relationships is another test of emotional intelligence. The scope of relationship here includes social bonding for love, leadership, and teamwork among many other social groupings.
A productive and balanced management of one’s emotion is equal to emotional intelligence. a person must demonstrate self-awareness and empathy to other people to be emotionally intelligent. Being aware of oneself is a key element of this achievement. Literally, this includes qualities such as honesty to one’s emotions, identifying values and passions, knowing strengths and weaknesses, and most importantly finding meaning and purpose for one’s life. An individual with sufficient emotional intelligence is able to control emotions so that they do not spiral to harmful behavior. He or she understands that anger is a secondary emotion that comes from other reasons and the only way of disseminating anger is by understanding it. Goleman says that, “the train of angry thoughts that strokes anger is also potentially the key to one of the most powerful ways to diffuse anger: undermining the convictions that are fuelling the anger in the first place,” (p.60). Understanding anger enables an individual to effectively deal with anger and to move forward with life.
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