Since 2003, the month of September won the milestone of being the month of suicide prevention and received Yellow as a reference color, recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO). In memory of the 17 year old who restored a car and painted it yellow and unfortunately committed suicide in 1994.
According to a WHO report published in 2020, suicide rates indicate that in more than 90% of cases, there was a related mental illness. Mainly among young people, about 96.8% of suicide cases were related to mental disorders. They highlight situations such as unemployment, feelings of shame, dishonor, romantic disappointments, in addition to a history of mental illness among the risk factors for suicide. A great piece of news from the aforementioned WHO report is: suicide is preventable in 90% of cases. This important point will be discussed later.
:: In the state of Rio, self-inflicted violence mainly affects people between 20 and 39 years old ::
Global data also show that the highest rates are located in peripheral and low-income populations, even in the richest countries. In Brazil it is no different, the highest rates come from indigenous, black, LGBTQIA+ populations who are the ones that suffer most from the structural violence of our reality, those whose lives are historically marked by the triple strength of colonization that dehumanizes, capitalizes on nature and militarizes the lives. Around here, since 2015 the theme has been remembered throughout the month – the Yellow September.
A campaign mobilizes society and the topic of suicide prevention gains strength and openness to debate. The subjects on the agenda revolve around the causes of suicide, ways to identify signs of suicidal ideation and even how to help or seek help.
It is noted that, generally, the debate focuses on the particular relationship line between people, and the issue is addressed by focusing on the subject’s internal motivations or on what people around him can do to help avoid the break with life. Focusing the analysis of the phenomenon of suicide on the psychological dimension of people puts us in front of the “danger of a unique story”, which as Chimamanda warns us: “it creates stereotypes and the problem with stereotypes, it’s not that they’re lies, they’re incomplete”. Therefore, they end up reducing the focus by treating a multifactorial and collective issue individually, focusing only on the person’s psychic dynamics.
:: Yellow September: “Suicide prevention is also a fight for social justice” ::
In this sense, the absence of important points to broaden the debate is evident. One cannot talk about an issue that involves biological, environmental, psychological factors, among others, only from a motivational perspective. It is also not possible to talk about illness, psychic suffering without considering the society we live in, its structure, its socioeconomic model and its determination in the formation of the internal dynamics of the people who comprise it.
It is not natural that the most raped populations historically raise the highest suicide rates in Brazil. We are talking about the explored base of the population and this contextualization, as well as the intersections of ethnic, racial, gender, class, age vulnerabilities, among others, cannot be left out of the debate raised by Setembro Amarelo.
Speaking of prevention, in terms of public health there are four levels of prevention in any topic, namely:
1. Create healthy conditions – health promotion actions designed to prevent any disease from taking hold in individual or population health;
2. Detect an early stage disease – actions taken to facilitate early diagnosis, ensure treatment to reduce its effects or spread;
3. Diagnosing and caring for health as a focus on not expanding the damage caused by the already installed disease and,
4. It is when there is risk in the actions/interventions that can be carried out, that is, the excess of intervention can produce more damage.
In this sense, speaking of suicide prevention, studies on the subject must always be updated, as well as epidemiological data of subjects who attempt or consume the suicidal act, so that health care policies and programs are implemented in a way that address the demands of specific populations.
However, even if health promotion policies achieved expanded coverage in the municipalities, it would not be only the health policy, nor only these actions that would be able to expand protection actions and, therefore, prevention of the suicide act.
Considering the political, socioeconomic context, the ceiling on public spending, the precariousness of emergency aid, food and nutritional insecurity, unemployment, income concentration, the humiliations suffered by being who you are, hunger, misery brought about in Brazil a outside, we have already arrived at the prevention logic, starting from the minimally secondary or tertiary dimension.
Given this, the question emerges to deepen the debate: is it possible to implement preventive actions at the primary level, when the risk factors are structural?
In this sense, if global data show, for example, mental illness in more than 90% of cases for the general public and more than 96% among young people, with a direct correlation to the act of taking their own life, it is necessary understand what generates and produces this psychic suffering.
Here I emphasize the urgent studies by the Laboratory of Social Theory, Philosophy and Psychoanalysis (Latesfip) at USP, the Cerrado and Latin America, on neoliberalism “not only as a socioeconomic model, but also as a manager of psychological suffering”, and also its discourse disciplinarian crossed by moral and psychological categories. In this sense, it also approaches neoliberalism as a way of life, as it shapes our desires, codifies identities, values and ways of life.
Complex questions and phenomena call for complex answers
The Brazilian State’s response, however, has been weak and riddled with contradictions. Despite Law 13,819/2019 establishing the National Policy for the Prevention of Suicide, we have a precariousness of policies to promote the mental health of the population in general and the treatment of people already diagnosed, which logically increases damage rather than reducing it. In addition to the investment in the release of weapons and pesticides for the general population, a frightening and irresponsible fact and why not say a promoter of genocide, considering that the use of weapons as well as pesticides appear as the most used resources for suicide attempts and consummation.
:: “Suicide is linked to intense psychological distress that needs care” ::
Prevention of suicide cannot be uncoupled from valuing human life in its entirety, with absolutely no exceptions, or it will be just rhetoric.
For the Yellow September in Brazil, the greatest inspiration may come from Emicida’s Amar-Elo, as “It’s all for yesterday”.
*Andreia Crispim is a social psychologist, specialist in public policy, childhood, youth and diversity.
**This is an opinion piece. The author’s vision does not necessarily express the editorial line of the newspaper Brasil de Fato DF.
Source: Federal District BdF
Edition: Flávia Quirino