Concepts and social perceptions behind suicide have changed greatly over the ages. Contemporary views of suicide see it as a form of violence – self-inflicted violence –, one of the three unnatural (or violent) causes of death, the other two being homicide and accidents. However, the relation between suicide and violence is a particular one, in what it is inwards directed, the same individual causing and receiving the violence unto him/herself. Along the path of the suicidal process (whose outcome can be classified as death or suicide attempt), different forms of external violence can be identified as contributors to the development of that process. In this chapter, the magnitude of the problem as well as its determinants (i.e. protective and risk factors – both predisposing and precipitant) are presented and discussed. The association of social inequities with suicide rates is highlighted; this is particularly evident in relation to the elderly. Finally, the main effective suicide prevention strategies are reviewed indicated and critically discussed.
Violence and Mental Health: Its Manifold Faces