The World Health Organization defines suicide as active, intentional self-inflicted injury with the intention of taking one's life.
- When life is difficult
It is common to experience difficult periods in your life, for example the loss of a close family member or someone else you love, heart ache or other agonizing life events. Sometimes everything feels hopeless and you feel that you can’t bear it. that your life is wrecked forever. In these situations, it is common to experience a chaos of emotions and even have suicidal thoughts. In most cases these don’t last very long and they “fly past” without resulting in anything else.
In the academic world there is a strong focus on achievements, and people put high demands on themselves. Employees and students alike can experience great disappointments and defeats that in some cases can feel like a life crisis.
Students are in an exciting phase of their life, most often you move away from home to a new place, you meet new people, learn new things and expand your horizons. This time in your life you often have less structure and more freedom. You are left much to your own devices. This gives you new possibilities, but also more strain. You may be disappointed with your own achievements, relationships and loneliness before you settle in a new environment. Many can also have pessimistic thoughts about their future.
- Why does someone take their own life?
There are many and complex reasons why a person take their own life.
A person with suicidal thoughts often feels isolated, lonely and feels that nothing will help, and nobody understands their mental agony. When you don’t see any other way of coping with the despair and pain, suicide can feel like the only way out. When you go through loss or life crises you expect to cast shadows over your future, this can increase the risk of suicide. Examples of such life crises can be:
- Loss or breakup in a close relationship
- Other losses (job, education, finances)
- Exposed to violence or psychological trauma
- Serious illness and chronic physical pain
- Loneliness and social isolation
The Norwegian author Jens Bjørneboe once said: «Depression and alcoholism mutually aggravate each other». When using intoxicants in a life crisis that is perceived as unbearable, the risk of suicide increase. Intoxicants increase impulsiveness and many suicides are carried out in an intoxicated state.
- Mental disorder and suicide
Many suicides are linked to mental disorders. Suicide is a relatively rare phenomenon to begin with (a rate of 13 out of 100 000 persons in the Norwegian population). It is therefore also rare that people with mental disorders take their own life.
There are many effective forms of treatment for mental disorders. If you believe you have a mental disorder, contact your GP, who will assess whether you should be referred to further examinations. For study related physiological challenges, contact the health services at your student association.
Should you prefer to be anonymous, you can call TIPS (early detection and treatment of psychosis) (NO) at 51 51 59 59 (weekdays at 08-15). At TIPS you can talk to professionals who can and will help you. They uphold confidentiality, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t quite know what to say.
It is normal to be sad at times, but when you are depressed, you are feeling down for much longer and it affects sleep, relationships, work and appetite.
Depression is one or the other form is one of the most common metal disorders. Moderate or severe depression may include a permeating sense of anxiety, pain and hopelessness, and a firm belief that the future holds no hope for change. This sense can be dangerous because it is the certainty that things will pass that makes us endure or cope with pain.
Should you wish to read more about psychosis or bipolar disorders (formerly called manic depressive disorder), you will find information at psykose-bipolar.no (NO).
Self-harm is to intentionally inflict injury and pain to your body, but without the intent to commit suicide. Some people use self-harm to try to cope with overwhelming painful thoughts, feelings and situations and to cope when life feels too difficult.
Do you harm yourself or do you know somebody who does?
- Information and help about self harm (NSSF) (NO)
- Do you have suicidal thoughts? This is where you get help
If you have immediate suicidal thoughts or plans:
The emergency room can also contact a psychiatrist or psychologist if it is needed. You don’t have to come alone; you can bring someone you trust.
Do you need to talk to someone right now?
- 24-hours helpline: Mental Helse: 116 123 or Kirkens SOS: 22 40 00 40. The help is free of charge, and you can be anonymous.
- Contact someone you trust, a friend or family member, your GP or a counsellor or psychologist at your place of study.
- Chat: SOS-chat (18:30-22:30) and Sidetmedord.no (you will receive an answer within 48-hours).
- Do you worry about a colleague or a fellow student?
As a fellow human being we can see the signs that someone is struggling. You cannot predict suicide, and unless you are a professional health care worker it is not your responsibility to assess suicide risks. If you have observed changes in someone’s behaviour and you get an overall sense of worry, you can look for these signs that someone have suicidal thoughts or plans:
- Changes in behaviour, absence or work performance
- Talking about a death wish or disappearing
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Depression, anxiety and restlessness
- Increasing use of intoxicants
Many people in crisis are unable to seek help themselves. It is therefore important that you who are close by, take the initiative and talk to them.
- Ask direct questions. Ask if the person is thinking about taking their own life. If the answer is “yes”, ask what their plans are and when they plan to go through with it. If the person has spesific thoughts or plans, you must make sure that the person gets professional help. You can offer to call, make an appointment and to accompany them to the appointment.
- In an emergency, contact the emergency services: 113
- If you want to discuss the situation with qualified health personnel, contact the emergency room at: 116 117
- For advice, call Mental Helses 24-hour helpline: 116 123 or Kirkens SOS: 22 40 00 40
- Read more about what you can do if someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts (NSSF) (NO)
What you can do
- Ask direct questions. Ask if the person is thinking about taking their own life. If the answer is “yes”, the person should seek out professional help. It is not your role to be the therapist, but you can offer to call, make an appointment and to accompany them to the appointment.
- In an emergency, contact the emergency services (113) or the emergency room at (116 117). You are entitled to immediate medical assistance if you have specific suicidal thoughts or plans.
- For advice, call Mental Helse 24-hour helpline: 116 123 or Kirkens SOS: 22 40 00 40. The help is free of charge, and you can be anonymous.
- Read more about what you can do if someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts (NSSF) (NO)
Are you afraid that someone will attempt to commit suicide in the near future? Call the emergency room at 116 117 and have them assess the situation. It is better to call one time too many.
Read more about what you can do:
- RVTS has made a guide for conversations with people who feel that life is unbearable. You find the guide at learning material at RVTSs page on prevention of suicide (NO)
- Vivat selvmordsforebygging has made a film about how to detect suicidal thoughts, ask about suicide and help the person to contact the emergency services (Vivat selvmordsforebygging)
- This is how you support a friend who struggles (NRK) (NO)
- What can the educational institutions do?
A good learning environment and a good work environment, a sense of social belonging and close relationships can contribute to good psychological health. It is important that the educational institutions are aware of the importance of health promoting measures, raise the level of competence and routines for handling difficult situations.
Some examples are:
- Raise the level of competence, such as courses in suicide prevention for employees working in the front line (Vivat) (NO), conference on Student First Year Experience (EFYE).
- Have available information on who students and employees can contact at their place of study or work, should they need help.
- Arrange campaigns and events to promote a sense of community, for example in connection with the World Suicide Prevention Day on October 10th (NO).
- Participate in national networks on improving learning environments, including First Semester (NO).
- Facilitate a safe and including buddy program at the start of the study programmes.
- Educate the students through the buddy game. Read more about the buddy game at kunnskapsspill (NO) and how the buddy games is used at studiestart (sikresiden.no) (NO).
- Build a safe study environment, where everybody knows how they can contribute to preventative work and what to do when something happens.
- Make sikresiden.no known, for example by showing the film Kunnskap gir trygghet – der du er (4:28 min), or the short version (1 m in) format adapted to social media.
- Arrange study buddy courses and courses about “The Necessary conversation” in cooperation with Lykkepromille (NO).