Coinciding with Mental Health Day which was October 10th, Sharon Osbourne has confided that after an attempt to take her life in 2016, she ended up admitting herself to a facility to seek help. Talking candidly on an episode of ‘The Talk’ Osbourne, 68 said that ‘everything turned around for her’ after meeting two young girls at the facility where she was treated and hearing their stories regarding their struggles with drug addiction that came about when both their mothers had commited suicide. ‘And it, messed them up so bad, that they couldn’t cope with their lives,’ she explained. ‘And that shocked me into…. Come on, am I going to do this to my family, my babies? No way. And that shocked me.. It was like an electric shock, and it was like. “Get it t together.” Osbournes ‘babies’ are her three children, son Jack, 34 and daughters Kelly, 35, and Aimee, 37 she shares with husband Ozzy Osbourne.
HOW IS SUICIDE DEFINED?
Suicide is defined as death caused by self-inflicted injurious behavior with the intent to die as a result of the behavior. A suicide attempt is a non fatal self directed potentially injurious behavior with intent to die as a result of the behavior. A suicide attempt may or may not result in injury. Suicidal ideation refers to thinking about, considering or planning suicide.
GLOBALLY 800,000 PEOPLE DIE FROM SUICIDE EVERY YEAR
Suicide is one the leading causes of death worldwide. Twice as many people die from the self inflicted death of suicide every year as from homicide. The suicide rate for men is twice as high as it is for women. About one person in 5,000 to 15,000 dies by suicide every year. The most suicidal country in the world by a large margin is Greenland, Europe is the most suicidal region in the world, while the Eastern Mediterranean is the least. In much of the world, suicide is regarded as a stigmatized act and exhibiting suicidal behaivours in some countries is viewed as a criminal offence and is punishable by law. Suicide is often due to its taboo label a secretive act and is therefore often unrecognized, misclassified or deliberately hidden in official death records. The most common form of suicide in the United States is from firearms. This method is globally one of the most common methods of suicide and is responsible for approximately 8 percent of global deaths, playing an even larger role in some countries.This is followed by self poisoning from pesticides. Imposing bans on some pesticides has had some effect in reducing suicide rates. Among all age groups the prevalence of serious suicidal thoughts was highest among young adults aged between 18 -25. In 2019 in the United States 12 million adults experienced serious thoughts of suicide with 3.5 million adults making a suicide plan, with 1.4 million adults attempting suicide. On average there are 132 suicides every day, with suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
RISK FACTORS FOR SUICIDE AND SUICIDAL TENDENCIES
Sharon Osbourne confirmed in 2014 that she battled with depression and had been taking medication for over 16 years. ‘Somedays are better than others and some days you feel like you just want to pull the sheets over your head and just stay in that bed and not do a damn thing except rot.’ she explained on The Talk. ‘I think if you are born with (depression) you have it all your life, and it’s an ongoing battle.’ Depression and other mood disorders are widely recognized as the most important risk factors for suicide, followed by economic recessions. This is worrying health experts as multiple lines of evidence indicate that the coronavirus pandemic has inflicted profound psychological, social and economic effects that are likely to persist for months and years to come.
HOW THE EFFECTS OF COVID-19 COULD INCREASE THE GLOBAL SUICIDE PANDEMIC
The advent of the drawn out coronavirus pandemic which has resulted in deleterious mental health effects for many exacerbated by the combined whammies of job stress and insecurity, unemployment, bankruptcy, strained relationships, increased social isolation and a staggering increase in drug and alcohol misuse is now also reflecting in a higher incidence of suicide and suicidal behaviours. It is well established that severe economic downturns correlate with increased rates of suicide. Given that it is predicted that the effects of the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic may be worse than the Great Depression of 1929 – 34 it is alarming to note that during that crisis the suicide rate increased overall by 16 percent. ‘We have people now who don’t know how to feed their family.’ said American Psychiatric Association President, Jeffrey Geller. ‘There are masses of people who are quite worried today, because they don’t know what is going to happen to their benefits. That kind of anxiety exacerbates fragility.’Centre for Disease Control (CDC) Director Robert Radfiled also commented in July on the jump in suicides. ‘There has been another cost that we’ve seen particularly in high schools. We’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides now than we are deaths from COVID. We’re seeing far greater deaths from drug overdose.’ he said. Young people caught up in lockdowns unable to attend school and participate in sports and activities can feel particularly vulnerable during these extended periods of isolation and feel depressed and overwhelmed to the point where they take their own lives. Extended periods of social isolation, anxiety, fear of contagion and economic hardship can exacerbate suicidal tendencies in individuals with pre existing psychiatric disorders, low resilient persons or people who have lost a family member or friend to the virus. It is well documented that social connectedness is a critical factor in the ongoing maintenance of emotional and social health. Studies have shown that both objective social isolation (living alone) and subjective sense of being alone are associated with major depression and generalized anxiety which can in many affected individuals manifest into suicidal ideation and ultimately suicide. As many countries experience ongoing lockdowns and restrictions which inhibit the ability to socialise it is believed that mental health issues will substantially increase and with it the suicide statistics.
STEPS TO PREVENT A CORONAVIRUS INDUCED SUICIDE PANDEMIC
When Osbourne tried to take her life she was experiencing feelings of despair that suicidal victims endure before resorting to an act of desperation. ‘I tried to take my life, and it wasn’t for attention. I just couldn’t bear it.’ she said. Osbourne has previously spoken openly about her mental health challenges. In May, 2019 Osbourne shared that being cheery all the time just isn’t realistic. ‘I wish everybody could think flowers and daisies and princesses, but you can’t .. and we lived happily ever after .. No we don’t’ she said. Osbourne shows the growing number of people all over the world struggling with ever increasing anxiety and depression through the Pandemic that no one is immune to the debilitating effects that mental illness can unleash. Even the rich and famous struggle to crawl out of the black hole of depression. Osbourne worries about her children. ‘I always (am ) afraid that my kids (will) get my depression because my mother was a big-time depressant and I am too…And I just watch my kids all the time, just praying they don’t develop this in later years, “cause it’s a terrible thing.” she said. Getting people through this challenging time and preventing deaths not just from COVID-19 but also from higher suicide rates due to the devasting effects the virus has made to all lives should be a priority. People need to be encouraged to stay as connected as possible and maintain relationships through means of phone or video, make sure that they eat as healthily as possible, get enough sleep and exercise regularly. People that are living alone are more at risk and should be monitored by family and friends. Now more than ever we mustn’t ignore signs that someone is faltering, we need to remain vigilant and look out for one another to stop a coronavirus induced suicide pandemic.