How can the state and the youth community actively help in preventing suicides?

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Panos Syriopoulos, a 23 years old and has studied Medicine in the University of Patras since 2017. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

“Young person commits suicide due to financial difficulties”, “Suicide attempts count up to three times more than the actual suicides”. These phrases are just a few of the headlines we read on our daily news. Deciding to end one’s own life is not only a personal choice, but also part of a major social phenomenon. Young people need to be convinced not to quit survival through specific state measures and youth community initiatives.

Governments’ first priority should be reducing the stigma around suicides. People trying to kill themselves should not be denoted as “mentally ill” nor their thoughts as “illogical”, since such statements incite feelings of remorse. On the contrary, authorities need to find the causes of suicidal ideas and avoid them in the first place by screening the population in order to identify risk factors and combat them. For instance, the average expenses should not exceed the average revenue. If this is not possible, high risk groups, such as the unemployed, should be subsidized. Moreover, the financial and mental burden of troubled people could be alleviated by health insurance covering mental health expenses, stabilizing house conditions, ensuring a healthy working climate and promoting open discussions between employers and directors or on a regular basis. Another important measure would be to reinforce universities and other institutions with more mental health experts, ranging from caseworkers and occupational therapists to psychologists and psychiatrists, readily available to arrange free meetings with a view to offering the proper help and therapy.

The most pertinent stakeholder, however, to raise awareness on suicides is the youth community, as the majority of victims of suicide belong in the 15-24 age group where suicide is the fourth cause of death. One method of informing the public is through social media campaigns on World Suicide Prevention Day (10/09) and World Mental Health Day (10/10) and interviewing people who have thought about commiting or have attempted suicide. Through peer to peer communication, adolescents and students will find an outlet to express their fears and conflicts and make a point on why someone may think of ending their life as the only way to resolve a grave situation. We can take initiatives such as forming interpersonal relations with anyone who needs support or creating applications and online tools as a form of the so-called “mental health watch”. We should recommend psychotherapy for everybody, regardless of the severity of their difficulties, so that suicidal ideas are prevented and preexisting psychological problems do not aggravate.

In conclusion, even though dealing with suicide is undoubtedly a hard challenge, a sensible approach can be planned and materialised in order to incite people to continue their life stronger than before. Of course, the way “the world goes around” cannot change as fast as we hope to; the point is rather to start shifting our mentalities and to demand an amelioration of living conditions so that soon suicide will not be considered “a solution” to our difficulties.



About the author

Panos Syriopoulos is 23 years old and has studied Medicine in the University of Patras since 2017. He comes from Athens, where he stays with his parents, and has no siblings. During his studies, he engaged in voluntary activities as a HelMSIC Patras member since 2018 and Local Officer on Medical Education for the terms 2019-2021. His primary interests are Mental Health, Medical Education, Medical Research, music and interpersonal communication.

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