To save life

Agnieszka Strzepka

According to the latest data of the World Health Organisation, in the world there is one suicidal attempt every third second and someone commits suicide every 40th second. Consequently, in the world about one million people commit suicide per year… How can we effectively save life, stopping these alarming statistics? As a conscious behaviour aiming at laying hands on oneself, a suicide is a multi-dimensional event, which from the point of view of a potential suicide is a solution to solve accumulating problems. When one decides to discuss the problem of suicide one can ask first of all the following questions: What inclines people to take this step? Why can they not see other solutions? What situations make them take such actions?


The increasing number of suicides and suicidal attempts is called ‘the black list’ because of the difficulty to estimate the number correctly. There exists no general register of suicidal attempts and the registered cases define ca. 25-30% of those receiving medical care after their suicidal attempts. According to the World Health Organisation in all age groups suicides are the causes of the top ten deaths and in the age group 15-34 is one of the two causes of death. The alarming thing is that an increasing number of suicidal attempts concerns children under 15 and the youngest suicides are in the age group 5-14 (!). According to the data of the Polish Police Headquarters, 53 children at the age of 9-14 and one child under 9 have attempted at their lives in 2008. The police reports for the whole Polish population and the date of the WHO say that men commit suicides more than women and men choose radical methods whereas women prefer pharmacological means.


‘Why does one man facing difficulty want to live and the other chooses suicide?’, wonders Dr. Marian Ledwoch from the Institute of Psychology at the Catholic University of Lublin. In the first place we can speak about values for which man toils and in the second case we ask about the reasons, motifs of the suicidal act. As Dr. Ledwoch says, ‘Because the suicidal act is strictly related to ways of facing difficulties applied in one’s life and it must have some causes. One can observe the so-called pre-suicidal syndrome, i.e. certain behaviours, ways of dealing with difficult situations characterised by some limitation of psychic life, lack of interests in one’s hobbies, isolation from one’s environment or blocking aggression that provokes self-aggression. Although one can classify suicides in various ways the common point is to see it as a solution for problems and the common emotions are helplessness and hopelessness, lack of control over situations and ambivalence – no way out and at the same time longing for life. ‘Our way of thinking, cognition, predispositions or psychological factors make man less or more prone to hurts and consequently, to suicidal behaviours’, Prof. Stanislawa Tucholska stresses. At the moment of suicide someone must feel hopeless; critical moment here and now, accompanied by aggression, hostility and impulsiveness, that yield to such behaviours.

How to prevent

Attempting to discuss suicide one should remember that suicides always communicate their intentions. Unfortunately, the outsiders can discern them only post factum. Long-term researches have led to the conclusion that the risk to commit suicide is related to the lack of support and feeling of security and one can claim that our sensitivity, the ability to listen others and showing empathy can save someone’s life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2258) says, ‘Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being’.

The text was written on the basis of the conference entitled ‘Thin Line of Life – the Problems of Suicides’, held at the Catholic University of Lublin on 27 February 2009.

"Niedziela" 14/2009

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
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