Suicide and Crisis Intervention in the USA

Suicide and Crisis Intervention in the USA

Suicide is seemingly becoming an enormous social issue in the society. In the United States, suicide is ranked tenth among the leading causes of death with a total of 38,364 deaths reported annually. In 2012, firearm suicides accounted for the highest number of deaths, in which 19,392 cases were reported. On the other hand, suffocation and poisoning suicides accounted for 9,493 and 6,599 deaths, respectively (CDC, 2013). It has also been found that, suicide mortality rates have been assuming upward trends in the last two decades while epidemiological predictions reveal that the rates may increase by 2020 (Bertolote & Fleischmann, 2002). These statistics are worrying; thus, crisis intervention measures are needed to address the issue. Therefore, this paper will provide an overview of crisis intervention. It will discuss the dynamics of suicide, moral dilemma and the common characteristics of people with suicidal behavior. It will also discuss the similarities between suicide and homicide.

From a psychological perspective, dynamics of suicide involve an array of aspects which are attributable to suicidal incidences in the society. Some of the principal aspects include stimulus, psychological factors and communication of intent. Moreover, environmental conditions are also believed to be among the factors related to suicide. In most cases, psychological factors influence suicide behavior. For instance, mental inability to solve problems in an individual’s life causes a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. Consequently, the individual’s problem-solving inability leads to a cognitive state in which suicide appears to be the only option to escape emotional distress. In most cases, emotional stress occurs over a considerable period, and the affected individuals manifest suicidal behavior before committing suicide. This emotional stress can be caused by various situations. Some of the pre-suicidal experiences include loneliness, sudden loss of a relative, changes in lifestyle and social isolation. In addition, failure to achieve personal goals may lead to suicide.

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Moreover, suicide victims give suicide warnings, which serve as significant indicators of suicide. Therefore, crisis intervention may relay on some of the psychological factors in the identification of people with suicide behavior.

Ordinarily, people who commit suicide are believed to have the desire for death, and they are capable of killing themselves. This aspect is explained by the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicidal behavior. This theory states, “An individual will not die by suicide unless he has both the desire to die by self-inflicting injury and the ability to do so” (Joiner, 2009, par. 2).

Suicide is associated with a moral dilemma on the family of the suicide victim. In most cases, family members are faced with immense bewilderment after learning that one of their family members has committed suicide. In reality, moral dilemma occurs often because most suicide victims do not communicate their intentions to commit suicide. As a result, relatives do not get psychological preparation to withstand the moral impact of death of their loved ones.

However, the impact of suicide depends on the nature of the suicide. For instance, assisted suicide does not cause immense moral impact because relatives are prepared psychologically to cope with the loss. This is so because; the procedure of carrying out assisted suicide involves counseling to the relatives before it is done. In addition, relatives play a significant role in the decision-making process to determine the family wish.

In most cases, people with suicidal behavior can be identified by the use of behavioral changes in the individuals’ lifestyle. It is believed that, people who commit suicide show significant changes in their mental attitudes. For instance, loss of personal ability to cope with stressful moments in life serves as a significant indicator of suicide behavior. Moreover, they exhibit ambivalent attitudes, owing to the hopelessness feeling.

Suicide and homicide are believed to show numerous similarities although there are significant differences between the two forms of death. One of the most common similarities between suicide and homicide is the aspect of aggression among the victims. Research indicates that, most suicide and homicide victims are aggressive. Corey and Guohua (2005) state that the general idea “that homicide and suicide be explained analogously in terms of aggression furthers the argument that the two are mutually associated” (par. 8).

In regard to crisis intervention, the triage assessment form is commonly used in addressing lethality. In the triage assessment, a psychologist is required to understand the individual’s plan of action. It is believed that most suicide victims follow a structured plan of action to accomplish their intentions. Therefore, detailed plans of action are more dangerous than simple action plans. Secondly, intervention requires the identification of the available suicide methods, as well as, understanding the lethality of the involved methods.

In conclusion, suicide is one of the challenging social issues, which require crisis intervention measures. Ordinarily, people with suicide intentions can be identified using psychological approaches such as change of attitude and social isolation. Ideally, intervention helps suicide victims to gain recovery and abandon their suicidal plans. However, intervention approaches should be designed to address all aspects of suicidal behavior and provide social support to the concerned individuals.


Bertolote, J., & Fleischmann, A. (2002). A global perspective in the epidemiology of suicide. Sociology, 7(2), 6 – 8. Web.

CDC (2013). Suicide and self-inflicted injury.

Corey, B., & Guohua, L. (2005). Correlating homicide and suicideThe International Journal of Epidemiology, 34 (4), 837-845.

Joiner, T. (2009). The interpersonal-psychological theory of suicidal behavior: current empirical status.


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