What gets measured gets managed.
What are the drivers of suicide, besides having an overt or covert mental health condition? Adverse events and/or the difference between expectations and what a person is experiencing in their life are a driver of unhappiness. Being unhappy, lacking hope, and lacking meaning may make individuals vulnerable to negative ideas and negative behaviors, such as suicide, addictions, violence. These are nihilistic and/or misguided shortcuts to attempt to relieve suffering, feel better, and gain a sense of importance. They lead to reduced life expectancy, being called “deaths of despair”.
Vulnerability to suicide may be due to an individual’s perception of being suffering or being damaged (lack of happiness about one’s past life and current life), with no future (lack of hope for success in the future), unimportant (lack of importance and meaning to one’s life, not being needed), or all of the above (Niculescu et al. 2015) (“Life is Bad”). This corresponds to the types of suicidality my group has identified: anxious type, depressed type, psychotic type, and mixed type (Niculescu et al. 2017). Suicide may be perceived as:
- escaping the pain of a bad life (anxious type),
- eliminating a burden to others and freeing resources for progeny and extended kin, or for a larger cause (low mood type), or
- as a way of making people who have harmed you suffer/feel guilty (psychotic type).
The other components are the idea that it is an acceptable solution (“It is OK to do it”), and the environment is opportune to do it (“I can do it”).
Our research over the years has translated into practical applications and tools, available now from MindX Sciences. The Life x Mind consumer phone app measures suicidal ideation, as well as anxiety, mood and psychosis, permitting individuals and their clinicians to gain insight and track feelings and thoughts. The SX Prevent prescription web app provides a suicidality risk score integrating all the risk factors listed above and more, and generates a personalized risk reduction plan. The prescription MindX Blood Test-Suicidality provides matching with nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals that can reduce risk.
In the end, suicides are preventable tragedies. Reach out and talk to somebody lonely today, you may save a life.
Live. Happier. Longer.