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Suicide Does Not Imply Mental Illness

02/14/2020

According to this study in AJPM, a majority of those who kill themselves have no history of mental illness. According to the study, "More than three fourths of suicide decedents did not disclose their suicidal intent." Might they fear that disclosing their intent will lead to involuntary hospitalization and other intrusions into their lives and plans based on the mistaken impression that suicide always stems from mental illness?

Also, according to the study, most used firearms to end their lives. Might they have turned to firearms and other violent methods because they did not have access to non-violent methods?

We should encourage voluntary disclosure of plan to die by establishing a right to die for competent adults. This might lead to a change of plan, but even if the suicide still takes place, involving significant others in the decision might reduce negative fallout for them.

Even those with a mental illness may choose to end their lives for circumstances unrelated to said mental illness. We should focus on reducing suffering rather than futile attempts to control the behavior of those who do not conform to the values and mores of religious and other groups in society.

Berry Edwards, MD