University of São Paulo: Suicide may be linked to socioeconomic and gender identity

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This month we celebrate Yellow September, a public awareness campaign about suicide, created in 2014 by the Brazilian Association of Psychiatry (ABP) in partnership with the Federal Council of Medicine (CFM). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people between 15 and 29 years old and 77% of them occur in poor countries.

The article Prevalence and social determinants of suicidal ideation among Brazilian students in public high schools seeks to fill a gap in suicide statistics among young Brazilians. Commonly associated with mental illness, suicide can be linked to social reasons, “to economic inequality, a growth in unemployment, job flexibility, the lack and destruction of social protection policies”, as the professor at the Institute of Psychology explains. from USP and leader of the study, Vera Silva Facciola Paiva. She also points out that this problem “has been associated with gender inequality”.

The study reveals that the suicide rate is higher among boys and that it is directly linked to socioeconomic factors, social well-being and belonging, such as low income, bullying and even studying at night. Still, young people who are directly exposed to LGBT+ phobia and who come out as part of the LGBTQIA+ community are the most affected group.

Even though the number of suicides has not increased considerably in the pandemic, what has happened is a change in the groups that idealize it. “We didn’t see a significant increase, we saw changes in the groups that are more or less affected”, explains the teacher.

the role of school
The project, funded by Fapesp and led by professor and Marcos Roberto Vieira Garcia, from the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCAR), emerged from a demand from schools and professors for the issue of mental health to be addressed in schools.

“The school is not fully capable of solving this issue, but it is able to avoid discrimination, bullying based on any of these elements and share the situations of suffering”, Vera emphasizes. “Teachers are not trained to deal with a mental health event or deal with families,” she notes.

The role of schools in suicide prevention and in reducing the psychosocial suffering of these most affected groups is very important, however, it must be directed. Addressing the issue, promoting a safe environment for these groups, guiding topics such as LGBT phobia and being attentive to signs are measures that can be taken by these institutions. One of the best forms of prevention, according to Vera Paiva, is the feeling of belonging and being able to talk and meet with similar people.


Health system
Blaming patients and referring them is not recommended. The Unified Health System, which offers follow-up in these cases, does not have individualized care, which is essential. “Most of what is offered to them is group assistance, and on their first arrival they want to be received individually, they want to be heard individually”, explains the researcher. “It is necessary to change the way in which the health service welcomes young people”, concludes Vera.

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