Surviving Suicide
30 May, 2013
Surviving Suicide
When all the reasons to exist begin to gradually wane, some people decide to take matters into their own hands. In Georgia, factors like unemployment, poverty, harsh social conditions and impressment may drive individuals facing hardships to give up their lives.
According to the World Health Organization, “Men are almost 5 times more likely to commit suicides than women, in all countries of the European Region.” Georgia is no exception. Male suicide is identified to be more frequent than that
of females in Georgia.
“I think that in the picture of Georgia, where male of middle-age (35-50) commit more suicides - is rather symbolic and reflects the deprivation of men of productive age who can’t find jobs, can’t adapt to changed life rhythm and demands and can’t accomplish their goals or live according to expectations of their families and the society,” said Nino Makhashvili, Director of the Global Initiative on Psychiatry in Tbilisi.
The 2010-2015 Health Promotion Strategy for Georgia stated that poor mental health, the “neglected part of improving health”, can lead to suicide attempts. Psychologist Nino Akhalaia, member of Psychologists and Psychotherapists Association (PPA), said that a suicidal mindset is often characterized by a background of depression that increases suicidal attempts.
Georgia came 73rd on the list of countries by suicide rates, preceded by Seychelles and followed by Albania. Even though slitting wrists, ingesting a large dose of medical pills in the pursuit of a painless death, or jumping off of a tall building for a quick end are some of the most common suicide methods that are heard of, Akhalaia said that others prefer more extreme forms like drinking or soaking themselves in gasoline.
She also noted that the most prevalent form of suicide is that of a demonstrative nature, in which case, self-murder is not the goal. It is more of a signal or a cry for help, during which an individual provides a lot of hints towards the expected suicidal behavior.
“In my professional practice, I’ve dealt with a lot of suicides that were of a demonstrative nature. In the fear of directly confessing committed mistakes, he/she often resorted to suicidal attempts in public places. That’s how he/she notified family members about his/her problems,” said Akhalaia.
According to GeoStat.ge, the highest suicide rate is that of males and females of 20 years or older. “The probability of suicide typically increases with age. The three different groups are: children, adults, and the elderly. Suicide rates in children are relatively low, but it is alarming that they are increasing. The rates are particularly high in adolescents and the elderly,” said Akhalaia.
Besides the typical teen issues, Akhalaia said there are many other reasons that compel adolescents to commit suicide. For example, factors like feelings of failure, inability to form a sense of self-identity, family conflicts, unsuccessful romantic relationships, unemployment and low socio-economic statuses, take a toll on their mental state.
As for the elderly, a different set of reasons are responsible for suicidal behavior. Akhalaia lists physical and psychological disorders, stress from the loss of loved ones and poverty as some of the elements that play a direct role in their mental well-being.
According to Makhashvili, there aren’t any suicide prevention programs currently running to offer help to people with suicidal thoughts. The lack of such efforts places an impact, especially on teens. “Empirically, we know that a lot of teenagers here have attempts and are self-harming and there is no solid support, available information or services around,” said Makhashvili. Though, a big improvement came along in 2011 with the establishment of crisis intervention centers in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi and Rustavi. Despite the fact that their services don’t run 24 hours, 7 days a week, the centers offer support and counseling services free-of-charge. In Georgia, taking your own life is an idea that is frowned upon due to religious reasons.
Generally Georgians deem suicidal behavior as ungodly, despite the fact that there is some flexibility in absolving people who commit suicide due to mental illnesses from the sin. Makhashvili said that the distorted statistics on suicide rates “are caused by the belief that suicide is a sin and families are ashamed because of this”.
But even current statistics are sufficient to recognize the prevalence of death by suicide as a growing issue. Hopefully, the information will warrant more medical attention to help those who are tainted by suicidal thoughts upon the conceptions of such urges.

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