A slow, smoldering build-up of tension and demoralization or an impulsive thought can take away the future of a person with a great potential in an instant.

This act called suicide is a global phenomenon killing close to 800,000 people annually, specifically one person every 40 seconds, worldwide and there are uncountable suicide attempts each day.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported in its latest research on the global suicide rate that suicide accounted for 1.4 percent of all deaths worldwide, making it the 17th leading cause of death in 2015. However, it concluded that suicide was the leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year olds globally.

There are indications that for each adult who died of suicide, there may have been more than 20 others attempting suicide.

WHO predicted that the rate of death will increase to one every 20 seconds by 2020, which would be more frequent than before someone dies somewhere in the world due to murder or in armed conflicts. In particular, studies show that a homicide occurs every 40 seconds and armed conflicts kill a person every 100 seconds.

Just consider that for a moment: One person dies every 20 seconds. Do the math and that’s three deaths in a minute, about 4,300 in a day, and upwards of 1.5 million people who will have shattered the hearts of their family and friends in a single calendar year — it is a truly frightening figure that ought to give us a pause.

In Mongolia, a total of 2,055 people (1,729 men and 326 women) killed themselves between 2012 and 2016, according to the first major research on suicide by the General Prosecutors’ Office. The director of the Institution to Study Causes and Conditions of Crimes at the Training and Research Center of the General Prosecutors’ Office, B.Unurmaa, brought attention to the fact that over 30 percent of all suicides in the reference period were committed by young people aged between 10 and 29.

Enhancing independence and
problem-solving abilities of children

“The Mongolian public health policy has been too focused on physical illnesses that it neglected pressing mental problems. A study on the behaviors of people who committed suicide indicates that 72 percent were introverts incapable of properly expressing themselves, had solitary life, and suffered from loneliness. The most tragic thing is the annually increasing number of children and young people committing suicide because they can’t find a solution to their problem or due to temporary distress. It’s long overdue for us, Mongolians, to change our ineffective method of upbringing children, which involves constantly scolding of children to be quiet, be on best behavior and do their homework at school and at home,” B.Unurmaa said.

She advised teaching children the ability to openly express themselves, voice out if there is a problem, and solve problems on their own starting from kindergarten.

Many people have already criticized the Mongolian education system for staying the same since socialism when other countries have and are changing to a better child-focused system.

“Educational institutions of all levels must pay attention to providing creative education through history, literature and philosophy lessons to children. For example, ask children what the proverb ‘khun akhtai, deel zakhtai’ means and have children openly debate its meaning amongst peers. This can be a start to their philosophical education. Yet, children are unable to learn about philosophy even when they’ve gone into their senior years in high school. A person can’t go far in life in this crude society without basic philosophy. Socrates said, ‘The unexamined life is not worth living’. Suicide has become common among Mongolian children because they don’t understand the meaning of life. Learning philosophy will help people become ready for any occurrence in life,” said famous educator and State Honored Cultural Worker L.Nyamaa.

Rather than comparing your child with others and scolding them for not performing academically well or winning a contest, parents need to regularly check on their child’s mentality and make sure they are improving their problem-solving skills and independency. A child who gets scolded for every action he or she takes often becomes fearful of doing anything, or grows rebellious. Those who are more sensitive are easily affected by mockery and offensive comments by peers, making them vulnerable to suicidal ideation, a psychologist explained.

More men commit suicide than women

Gender differences in suicide rates have been shown to be significant. There are different rates of completed suicides and suicidal behavior between males and females. While women more often have suicidal thoughts, men die by suicide more frequently, according to researchers.

The General Prosecutors’ Office reported that 84 percent of all suicides recorded from 2012 and 2016 were committed by men, out of which 47 percent were unemployed.  In particular, out of 2,055 people who died from suicide during this period, 1,729 were men and 326 were women.

Numerous factors have been put forward as the cause of this gender paradox. Part of the gap was explained by heightened levels of stress that result from traditional gender roles. For example, the death of a spouse and divorce are risk factors for suicide in both genders, but the effect is somewhat mitigated for women because they are more likely to maintain social and familial connections that they can turn to for support after losing their spouse. Another factor closely tied to gender roles is employment status. Men’s vulnerability is often heightened during times of unemployment because of societal expectations that men should provide for themselves and their families.

Psychologists recommended for schools and offices

An article in the Law on Primary and Secondary Education specifies teaching children to resolve a problem through non-violent methods but this article isn’t put to practice in real life, according to prosecutors.

It was explained that the lack of surveillance body for this particular role is the main reason the law is not implemented.

“Our basic research on suicide has been sent to the Ministry of Justice and Internal Affairs, and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports. The ministries have assigned a working group to take necessary action. The number of children and teenagers is growing each year, which is a social phenomenon the state must pay more attention to,” noted M.Gantulga, the head of the Training and Research Center of the General Prosecutors’ Office.

He accentuated the importance of having a permanent psychologist at schools for helping children talk about and together seek solutions for their issues with their family, classmates and friends.

M.Gantulga also said that numerous psychologists are trained in Mongolia every year but they are unable to find a job in line with their profession. “General school boards think that social workers have to fulfill the role of a psychologist,” he complained.

‘30 percent of suicides are completed after one or two failed attempts’

Without a doubt, it’s alarming that children and young people who should be passionate about making a difference in the world and striving towards their dreams are the most vulnerable people to suicidal thoughts.

WHO mentioned that 216 Mongolians committed suicide in 2016 in its mental health report, but the General Prosecutors’ Office reported that 333 Mongolians committed suicide in 2016. This indicates that the national database recording suicides is poor and associated organizations are in need of an integrated network. Doing so will contribute to making psychological assistance services accessible to people with suicidal tendencies and prevent suicide attempts and deaths by suicide.

Researchers noted that almost 30 percent of 2,055 Mongolians who took their own life had attempted to kill themselves at least one or two times beforehand. Had these people received proper psychological assistance and support after their first attempts, they might be enjoying their life now.

Suicide is a terrible act that gravely affects other family members and friends. For this reason, it needs to be prevented and in order to do that, experts must record every suicide attempt and occurrence, identify the reason people get suicidal ideation, and intensify preventive measures. According to experts, the most preventable death is suicide. So, don’t count on the police and social workers to detect people with suicidal thoughts, take a look around you and if you notice a person in need, talk to them because that small act might be the decisive move that can save a valuable life.


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