What is the suicide situation in Colombia?
According to the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensics, an average of 7 suicides and 95 suicide attempts per day have been reported in Colombia so far in 2022.
Legal Medicine figures up to July 31, 2022 show that there have been 1,564 suicides in the country this year. For its part, data from the National Institutes of Health (INS) show that as of August 27, 2022, a total of 22,834 suicide attempts were reported for the same time period.
Preliminary figures for suicide attempts show an increase over what was expected from territorial units, which for the same cut-off date estimated a cumulative 18,000 suicide attempts.
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Psychiatrist Rodrigo Córdoba spoke to Colprensa and stated that he views the known figures with concern. The specialist is part of the working group that seeks to destigmatize suicide, given that it is a public health problem in the country that is often surrounded by stigmas, myths and taboos.
“Certainly suicide, which is a public health problem, has seen a significant increase in attempts and numbers in recent times, and we believe that to what has been in situations of underdiagnosed mental disorders has been added the element of despair that has become constant and common among young people at this time,” the specialist told the national media.
For his part, Dr. Andrea Oteromedical specialist in clinical psychology and president of the Colombian Association of Psychiatry, emphasizes that 90% of suicides in Colombia are related to a mental disorder.
For the president of the Colombian Psychiatric Association, “depression is present in more than 50% of suicides and the risk is greater if the person also suffers from anxiety. In addition, alcohol consumption can worsen the depressive picture, which increases the risk of suicide.
According to official data, 50% of suicide attempts occur after previous consumption of alcohol or abuse of psychoactive substances.
“Almost all mental illnesses increase the risk of suicide, with more than 10% of people with bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, or antisocial personality disorder dying by suicide. Likewise, it should be considered that painful and chronic medical conditions contribute to 20% of suicides in the elderly,” explained Dr. Andrea Otero.
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In Colombia, a total of 1,241 men have committed suicide this year, while women have committed suicide at 323, according to data from Legal medicine cut off by the month of July.
Regarding the behavior of the notification of attempted suicide by departments with a cut-off date of August 2022, Bogotá registered 3,578 cases, followed by Antioquia (3,401), Cundinamarca (1,422), Cali (1,120) and Santander (1,017).
Dr. Otero, a psychiatrist specializing in clinical psychology, confirms that the help and support of family, friends and health professionals can have an important impact in a situation where there are suicidal thoughts.
1. If a person is showing warning signs, ask about their moods and thoughts, show interest, and that person may know they are not alone.
2. Accompany, don’t judge, listen, be available.
3. Take action by encouraging the person to seek professional help and support people.
4. Continuous support from family and friends is very valuable as suicidal thoughts do not go away easily.