The Role of Parents in Suicide Prevention

Many experts hold the view that parents have a role to play in suicide prevention. This is to say that there are things a parent can do, to lower the chances of his or her child being suicidal later in life. It is by now a well-settled fact that suicide is caused by mental illness – specifically depression. Suicide is therefore essentially a complication of depressive illnesses. And there are practical things that a parent can do, to make his or her child less prone to depression.

To be sure, depression has a biological (neurochemical) basis – meaning that some people are born with a natural predisposition to depressive illnesses. But usually, there has to be a trigger, for the depressive illness to manifest. And this is where the role of the parent comes in: where, with proper parenting, one can make his or her child less prone to such ‘triggers’ — now and in the future.

Therefore, the role of parents in suicide prevention is that of consistently using proper parenting methods. If you use the proper parenting methods consistently, you will end up with a resilient, well-adjusted child. The child will grow into a resilient, well-adjusted adult. Such a person will be less prone to depressive illnesses later in life. And consequently, such a person will be less prone to suicide in the future. As an adult, he or she will be able to consistently do what is expected, without being too harsh on himself or herself. If, for instance, he gets a job at CVS, he will be able to work diligently – coping well with the workplace pressures and the daily struggles of human life. Then, fortnightly, he will be able to go to the myhr CVS portal, login and find his paycheck: that being the reward for his effort and diligence at work. And he or she will be well satisfied with that arrangement. So we see a well adjusted life there. On the other hand, a person who was brought up using the wrong parenting methods may have turned to drugs, lapsed into depression and eventually developed suicidal tendencies.

By the way, when we make reference to ‘proper parenting’, we refer to the approach where you are generally nice to your kids, and where you handle them like real human beings, with respect. The idea is to nicely tell them what is expected of them. Then you should go ahead and help them (in their earliest years) in living up to the expectations. This is opposite to the approach where you don’t tell the kids what is expected of them, but where you expect them to figure it out somehow! That is the approach where you are quick to punish them for the smallest of ‘mistakes’ — even those that are inadvertent. Kids who are brought up in the latter (harsh) way tend to develop low self esteem. Low self esteem is a precursor to depression. And depression, if it goes untreated, can lead to suicidal tendencies.

Enhancing the Role of Psychiatrists in Suicide Prevention

Psychiatrists are among the key professionals who can play an important role in suicide prevention. Unfortunately, psychiatrists are often left out in suicide prevention initiatives. Sometimes, they are inadvertently overlooked. At other times, they are deliberately left out by people who should know better. Yet, in the final analysis, if we are to make any real progress in suicide prevention efforts, we need to enhance the role of psychiatrists. That is because psychiatrists are, for the most part, the relevant professionals in these matters. It is the psychiatrists who really understand the mental processes that predispose some people to suicide. It is psychiatrists who know how such mental processes can be dealt with, to end up with better outcomes. Ideally, in suicide prevention efforts, other professionals should play supporting roles, with psychiatrists providing the leadership. But what we tend to see is different. What we tend to see are scenarios where psychiatrists are relegated to supporting roles, even as other professionals (who really know nothing about these matters) take the leading roles. That is why many suicide psychiatrists initiatives don’t seem to make much headway.

To enhance the role of psychiatrists in suicide prevention, we need to get people to view suicide as a mental health issue. Currently, many people are still in the stage where they view suicide as a moral issue or as something that is purely caused by life frustrations. Until we can get people to view it as a mental health issue, we won’t make much headway.

Further, having gotten people to view suicide as a mental health issue, we need to get them to understand that it is from psychiatrists that they can get real help.

On the other hand, psychiatry courses need to emphasize more on suicide prevention. In many medical schools, the topic of suicide prevention is dealt with as a ‘by-the-way’ – when tackling illnesses such as depression. We need to move towards a scenario where suicide prevention can be offered as a course unit on its own, with many credit hours going to it.