Our thoughts and prayers are with Jeremy Witsten and his family as Last Sunday Man City football club confirmed that the former teamer player had tragically passed away at the hands of suicide. The sudden death of the 17-year-old comes at a shock as tributes were paid to the promising young defensive who had recently been released from the club. Witsen joined Man City in February 2016 for the Under 13 squad and was said to have been suffering from depression and mental health issues which could of led him to take his own life. His mother Yakosah is devastated at her loss and is yet to make a statement.
Senior Players Aymeric Laporte and Raheem Sterling responded with a rose emoji and prayers whilst Laporte tweeted “Horrible and disturbing news…Rip young man”. Giant Serie A league team AS Roma also paid their respects to the young footballer and increased levels of mental health issues amongst players.
Sadly suicide rates in Britain have increased sharply to its highest since 2002, with official figures reporting three quarters of people who took their own lives last year as men.
In 2019 the coroner’s office registered 6,691 cause of deaths by suicide in the UK. This is up 13.2% since 2017 and approximately 12.8 people per 100,000 according to data. A high concern for the rate of young people between the age of 10-24 killing themselves was raised with it reaching an all time high especially for young females. Last year there were 5.3 deaths registered per 100,000 women in wales.
A person choosing to take their own life is a tragic response to wanting to escape the pain of pent up emotions from stressful situations in life. The causes of suicidal thoughts stem from feelings of hopelessness overwhelming anxiety and thinking that one can’t cope. There may also be a genetic link in people who suffer with suicidal thoughts and behaviors with there usually being a history of it in the family.
Despite attempted suicide rates being higher in women, men have an increased chance of following through to completion because they are more likely to use more lethal ways of doing it such as by hanging or firearm.
‘The rate among 10 to 24-year-old females has increased by 83% since 2012 to its highest recorded level in 2018. Males of the same age also saw a 25% increase in their rate from the previous year.’ ~ National Statistics
An article by the Internal Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in 2018 wrote “Classical suicide risk indicators such as suicidal ideas, depressive symptoms, emotional distress, and hopelessness were significantly more common among White British inpatients than other ethnic groups. Male inpatients from Black African backgrounds were significantly more likely to have committed suicide than White British men (SMR 2.05, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.12-3.43). Women committing suicide as inpatients were significantly less likely to be of South Asian (SMR 0.4, 95% CI: 0.17-0.78) and Black Caribbean (SMR 0.26, 95% CI: 0.09-0.62) backgrounds than White British women. Suicide rates and classical indicators of suicide risk among inpatients committing suicide vary by ethnic group.
A person is more at risk of suicide if they:
- Feel worthless, hopeless, agitated, socially isolated or lonely.
- Have attempted suicide before.
- Are going through a stressful time in life, such as a breakup, loss of a loved one, losing your job, financial or legal problems, military service, illness, study etc.
- Have a problem with substance abuse such as alcohol and narcotics which make suicidal thoughts worse and increase the chances of somebody acting impulsive and reckless.
- Have access to firearms and have suicidal thoughts.
- Suffer with an underlying psychiatric disorder such as post-traumatic stress syndrome, major depression, or bipolar disorder.
- Come from a family with a history of mental health disorders, alcohol and substance addiction and emotional, physical and sexual violence.
- Have been diagnosed with medical condition that can be linked to depression and suicidal thoughts such as terminal illness, chronic pain and disease.
- Are a black male who comes from a hostile or unsupportive environment.
Rates of those are much higher in those suffering with depression. BAME reported “In England and Wales, nearly a fifth of people come from a BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) background. The mental health of BAME communities is important because people from these communities often face individual and societal challenges that can affect access to healthcare and overall mental and physical health.
Depression is a widespread disorder of the mind that causes individuals to experience low mood, feelings of guilt and low self-esteem, loss of interest or pleasure, low energy, poor concentration, disturbed sleep and or appetite changes amongst other things.
Depression is the biggest health problem around the world followed by anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder which are all linked with or back to depression.
Suicidal thoughts and warning signs include:
- Often talking about suicide or making statements towards it such as “I wish I was dead”, “I’m going to kill myself”, “I wish I hadn’t been born”.
- Stockpiling pills or purchasing dangerous objects such as firearms.
- Wanting to be left alone and isolating and withdrawing from society.
- Being unbalanced emotionally. Up one day and down and depressed the next.
- Being fixated on dying, death and violence.
- Feeling hopeless and trapped about a situation.
- An increase in the intake of alcohol and drugs and other risky behavior.
- A change in daily routine such as sleeping and eating patterns.
- Telling people goodbye like they won’t see you again.
- Giving away personal belongings and organizing their affairs with no logical reason for doing so.
- Personality changes and signs of severe agitation and anxiety.
Whilst the above are common warning signs it must be said that symptoms vary from person to person. Warning signs are not always obvious. Some people openly make their intentions known, whilst others do not admit their feelings and instead keep them in secret.
Samaritans Chief Executive Ruth Sutherland commented “With the impact of mental wellbeing taking a huge toll on people’s mental wellbeing, we should be even more concerned.”
Research based on calls to the charity Samaritans helpline found that the pandemic had increased the associated risks to those who are already vulnerable.
“Volunteers are telling us that many callers have been worried about losing their job and/or business and their finances, with common themes around not being able to pay rent/mortgage, inability to support the family, and fear of homelessness.” – Samaritans
The Head of policy and campaigns at the charity ‘Mind’ Vicki Nash said “Not all suicides are mental health-related but many are, and we know that a significant proportion of people who take their own lives have asked for support for their mental health within the last 12 months, which means that services are failing people when they need help the most.
“With more and more people seeking support for their mental health, it is absolutely crucial that services are equipped to meet the demand. No one in touch with services, asking for help, should reach the point of taking their own life.”
Deciding to take your own life by committing suicide is a heartbreaking answer to dealing with stressful life events – it is even more tragic because it also has devasting effects on those around you. If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts:
- Reach out to a loved one or close friend — no matter how hard it is talk about your feelings.
- Draw write sing and pray about your feelings. Relief is usually found in expression.
- Get in contact with spiritual leader, minister, or someone in your faith group
- Call a suicide Samaritans suicide helpline on 116123
- Go see your doctor of other mental health professionals or services.
- If suicidal thoughts are uncontrollable and you feel like you or others are at risk call 999 immediately for emergency services.
Don’t be afraid to Get Help
When the underlying cause of suicidal thoughts are not identified and treated mental health problems are more likely get worse or keep on returning. Do not feel embarrassed to get treatment as seeking treatment for a depressive disorder will keep you safe and make you feel better and more positive about life.
It may be hard to talk to family and friends about suicidal feelings but reaching out and letting people know how you are feeling can help establish a support system. Inform the people who care about you what is going on and how they can help. Making connection with support groups, your place of worship, or other community resources can help a lot to people at risk of suicide. Try to remember that suicidal thoughts are only temporary and pass. If you are feeling down and like life is not worth living try to remember that getting help will help you to understand what you are going through and that you are not the only one. Things will get better and your life will improve.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from suicidal thoughts please contact the Samaritans on 116 123 for help and guidance.