A brief overview:
Most suicides appear to be associated with a long-lasting depression; they are often "a permanent solution to a temporary problem." In North America, they seem to peak annually in the early springtime. One theory is that individuals decide to commit suicide while profoundly depressed in the dead of Winter, but lack the ability to organize their own death. Later, when the weather improves and they feel more in control and are able to arrange their suicide.
Others who commit suicide are not depressed. They kill themselves because of terminal illness, intractable pain, and/or the loss of dignity, control, and autonomy -- or anticipated loss -- which often accompanies terminal diseases.
Emergency support services are available to help persons with suicidal ideation, often on a 24 hour basis. Suicide prevention hot lines (sometimes called distress centers, crisis centers, hotlines, Contact, Telecare, etc.) offer non-judgmental, confidential, caring support by trained volunteers. Telephone numbers are often listed on the inside front cover of local telephone books.
Throughout North America, the act of committing suicide is no longer a crime. Except for certain cases in the states of Oregon and Washington, assisting a person to commit suicide remains a criminal act.
Certain groups within the population are much more at risk for suicide. These include Aboriginals, persons who suffer from various mental disorders, lesbians, gays, and bisexuals Persons who are transgender and transsexuals may be at the highest risk to commit suicide.
Topics covered in this section:
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