Stress from External Causes More Likely to Lead to Suicide

      December 21, 2017 12:38

      News of the suicide of Jong-hyun of SHINee on Monday came as a shock to many. Reasons for suicide are always complex, but one current trend is to group the most common factors together as "adjustment disorder."

      Adjustment disorder is a broad church and covers essentially any serious trouble coping with a major life event, from divorce and bankruptcy to change of job, typically within three months of the event.

      Min Young-gi at Ajou University Hospital in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province studied 323 patients who were taken to emergency centers in the region for attempted suicide in 2015. He concluded that 202 or 62.5 percent suffered some kind of adjustment disorder, followed by depression (14.9 percent), alcoholism (10.5 percent) and bipolar disorder (4.6 percent).

      The orthodoxy so far has been that depression is the major cause of suicide, but Min's findings suggest that palpable external causes have a bigger role to play.

      Noh Jai-sung at Ajou University Hospital said, "People build a protective mechanism that protects them from external stress as they grow up. But if people suffer violence early in life, or are sick for a long time, they often lack that protection."

      The key is learning to cope with stress. "You should not hide something that causes you stress. Talking about it and getting sympathy from someone close to you can effectively relieve stress," Noh said. "Even exercise can help people forget the stress they're suffering from for a while." But alcohol should be avoided because it can trigger suicidal impulses.

      Fortunately, adjustment disorder can be effectively treated. "More than 90 percent of patients get better within three months with counseling and medication to relieve anxiety and depression," Noh said.

      But if symptoms last for six months or more, they can develop into chronic depression. Anyone suffering from stress caused by an external shock should seek professional help as soon as possible if it seriously affects their everyday life. 

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