Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people; however the incidence of attempted suicide is much more. It has been observed that after puberty, rate of suicide increases with age until it stabilizes in young adulthood. This increase in suicide may be associated with the onset and increase in depressive and other disorders during adolescents as compared to childhood.
Suicide ideation, gestures and attempts are frequently but not always associated with depressive disorders, reports indicate that as many as half of suicidal individuals express suicidal intention to a friend or a relative within 24 hours before enactive suicidal behavior.
It is a time proven fact that all the living organisms on this earth fight for survival and existence. What then makes the man to risk his own life? The tragedy of self – inflicted death has always attracted the attention of the medical as well as the legal fraternity. People who have committed suicide or have been thinking about committing suicide probably feel overwhelmed by their problems. They might not be able to handle that kind of pressure and feel that death would be the only way to escape it.( Alonso J,2008).
Although suicide was condemned in the Dharmashastras, yet, there is also a chapter on allowed suicides. But the earlier scriptures, of Manu’s and Kautilya’s were against suicide. These sentiments were echoed for ages in India. Even though today, attempted suicide is also a crime in India under the Indian Penal Code system. The neighbouring country Sri Lanka has removed attempted suicide as a punishable offence. In India, even the assisting and abetting suicide is also a punishable offence.
The striking aspect of Indian data is the large variation in different parts of India in relation to attempted/committed suicide. The states and cities with rapid social change are associated with higher suicide rates in the year 2010, such as the states of Tamilnadu (5470) and Andhra Pradesh (5675),Maharashtra (6289), West Bengal (5302).(NCRBI 2007).
Adolescence is a stressful developmental period filled with major changes: body changes, changes in thoughts, and changes in feelings. Strong feelings of stress, confusion, fear, and uncertainty, as well as pressure to succeed, and the ability to think about things in new ways influence a teenager’s problem solving and decision making abilities.
For some teenagers, normal developmental changes, when compounded by other events or changes in their families such as parental divorce or moving to a new community, changes in friendships, difficulties in school, or other losses can be very upsetting and become overwhelming. Problems may appear too difficult or embarrassing to overcome. For some, suicide may seem like a perfect solution.
The adolescent suicide rate has greatly increased in recent years. Suicides in those ages 15 to 24 years once accounted for 5% of all suicides but now it is increased to 14%. This makes suicide the third leading cause of death among adolescents. Suicide rates for males within the age group of 10 – 14 years have tripled, whereas rates for males aged 15 to 19 years have quadrupled. Rates for females have doubled. Males aged 15 to 19 years are nearly 5 times more likely to kill themselves than females in the same age group. Although female adolescents attempt suicide 2 to 3 times more often than their male counterparts. Recorded suicide attempts peak between the ages of 15 and 19years.(WHO 2008).