Mental health: what can be done to diminish increasing suicide rates?

mental healths

(Stefano Pollio, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Alvija Kučinskaitė, a second-year medical student at Vilnius University, Lithuania. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Over the last two decades, worldwide suicide rates have been continuously increasing and have consequently become the 2nd leading cause of death on a global level, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Not only does such statistical data reflect the result of unresolved issues in healthcare systems but it also indicates the poor condition of society’s mental health. However, pro-active measures can be taken in order to improve the current situation.

Mental disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc., have been shown to be one of the most prevalent factors of pre-suicidal state development. Nevertheless, the significance of impulsive suicides that happen in a moment of crisis, cannot be diminished. Both suffering from mental illnesses and dealing with stressful spontaneous breakdowns can lead people to seek suicide as a way to escape resilience and emotional resourcefulness requiring life events or mental states. Therefore, strengthening people’s emotional intellect can be one of the main root-cause eliminating precautions in order to decrease the number of suicides. This solution can be understood from the salutogenic standpoint – the more peoples’ sense of coherence will be developed, the less they will be likely to choose such marginal measures as suicide to cope with challenging situations.

Provided that due to various life circumstances (abusive, toxic families, traumas, etc.) not everyone is capable of developing a high level of emotional intelligence, kids from an early age should be educated on productive personality traits and healthy coping mechanisms. It is crucial that alongside traditional school subjects pupils would get to know at least the basics of human mental health, its risk factors, and most widespread disorders. Furthermore, educating adults is nonetheless important. By spreading knowledge and bringing the topic of mental health into the daylight, not only can people contribute to fostering a non-judgemental understanding of those who suffer but also develop an awareness of their own state of mind.

In addition to the stigma attached to mental issues, problems in the healthcare system also pose a great threat to the already alarming suicide rates. For instance, in Lithuania, an average of 15 minutes is provided to collect a thorough anamnesis, diagnose, prescribe medication and do the process of the documentation, during a consultation with a primary care physician. This time is not nearly enough for the precise and thorough examination of the patient, therefore, the mental aspect of the patient’s overall health tends to be overlooked. Additionally, this interferes with establishing connection between a patient and a doctor, leading to the unwillingness to share one’s emotional struggles that impair the quality of life. Hence, it is the healthcare systems’ disfunction that prevents the doctors to apply a biopsychosocial approach during a consultation, consequently contributing to undiagnosed and untreated mental disorders. In order to promote the progress of suicide prevention in medical care facilities, the notable changes in the healthcare system have to be made. In addition to the extended consultation time, there should be a particular group of extra anamnesis questions that would allow the doctors to quickly determine a patient’s state of emotional well-being and intervene if needed.

The striking suicide numbers are a desperate call for preventative actions to be administered. Nurturing emotional intelligence, destigmatizing harmful beliefs, and upgrading the medical care system can be extremely effective when trying to prevent suicidal behaviors to escalate further. These interventions can be extremely effective if applied solely by themselves, but only when the complex of actions will be exerted can we foresee the future where people from risk groups are not bound to become just a common number in suicide statistics.

About the author

Alvija Kučinskaitė, 19, is a second-year medical student at Vilnius University, Lithuania. She is a member of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations of Lithuania (LiMSA) and has been working with the SCOME team since 2019.

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Comments

  1. Harold A Maio Maio says:

    —-In addition to the stigma attached to mental issue

    Is better presented as: In addition to teaching us to attach a stigma

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