06.04.2018 change 06.04.2018

Suicidologists: Suicides result in more deaths than accidents in Poland

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

More people die in Poland because of suicides than traffic accidents, experts said at the 1st Suicidology Congress in Lodz. Approx. 800 Polish and foreign experts in the field of suicide prevention participated in the meeting.

Suicidology is the scientific study of suicidal behaviour, the motives of suicides and above all suicide prevention. According to the police data cited by the Congress organizers, more people die in Poland as a result of suicides than traffic accidents. Last year it was over 5.2 thousand people, 80% of whom were men. Every fifth death of a teenager in Poland was caused by suicide. According to the Police Headquarters, a suicide attempt takes place every 47 minutes.

"We focus on victims of traffic accidents - rightly so, but at the same time we do not pay enough attention to suicide victims. This is a problem of the social policy of the state. When it comes to traffic accidents we can say that drivers are guilty, road infrastructure, drunk driving. We know who and what to blame. But who do we blame for a suicide?" - President of the Polish Suicidology Society Prof. Brunon Hołyst said at a press conference.

According to Prof. Łukasz Święcicki from the Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology in Warsaw, the number of suicides in Poland is probably higher than shown in police statistics, because many incidents are not recorded at all. It was not until 2018 that the obligation to register suicide attempts in hospital treatment cards was introduced; before that there was no obligation to report intentional self-injuries with the intention of taking one`s own life and information about people under the care of medical facilities following suicide attempts was not transferred to the Police Headquarters.

"General data are incomplete and unclear - the Central Statistical Office gives a different number of suicides than the police, and the difference between those numbers reaches 30%. We would like to know the structure of suicides, the most frequent reasons, but we do not have the necessary data. Specialists know the situation in their own clinics, but the general situation in Poland - that we do not know" - he noted.

It is estimated that 60-90 percent people with suicidal behaviours (depending on the age group) suffer from various mental disorders, including depression.

"Surveys conducted among suicide survivors indicate that most of them suffered from various forms of depression in the period before the incident. During one of Congress lectures, a specialist from the Netherlands cited analyses showing that good depression treatment and prevention methods result in a suicide rate decrease" - added Prof. Święcicki.

Suicidologists stress that the cause of suicide is always a combination of many factors, and the most important part in the prevention of tragedies is the support given to the person in a crisis. According to Prof. Hołyst, it is worth showing interest in people who are in need. "Words heal, but also kill. Choose the positive version" - he stressed.

Help can be found, for example, in the Support Centre for People in the State of Mental Crisis of the ITAKA Foundation, which has a 24/7, free hotline number 800 70 22 22, as well as the website at www.liniawsparcia.pl. The Foundation We Give Children the Strength also has a 24/7 Support Line for Children and Young People (phone number 116 111).

Suicidologists have signed a declaration in which they demand measures to prevent suicidal behaviour and social exclusion, improved access of people suffering from depression and other psychiatric disorders to free, comprehensive help, as well as effective state policy in the area of addiction prevention and treatment. They also propose to include suicidal risk groups when planning and implementing the Polish Suicide Prevention Strategy, and draw attention to the need to ensure financing of the strategy and coordinate its implementation.

The 1st Suicidology Congress was covered by the media patronage by the Polish Press Agency and Serwis Zdrowie financed by the National Health Program for the years 2016-2020.

PAP - Science in Poland

author: Agnieszka Grzelak-Michałowska

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