Understanding suicide

Why do people take their own lives?

There are no official figures on how many people in Bermuda take their own life every year or attempt to do so. However, research by LOSS reveals that since 2009, the Coroner's office has recorded 25* deaths in Bermuda by suicide and we know that every year suicide has a devastating impact on families, friends, workplaces and communities. 

For those left behind, a suicide brings more questions than answers. The thought of a loved one ending their life is incomprehensible and we search for reasons to explain it. The truth is, suicide is a very complex issue that can never be completely understood. Even if they left a note, it may not provide answers – it can be open to different interpretations or it may simply be impossible to comprehend and accept. Sadly, only the person who died knows the answers.

When someone takes their own life, it is usually because of several factors and circumstances rather than one single cause or incident.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention states:

“Not all people who die by suicide have been diagnosed with a mental illness and not all people with a mental illness attempt to end their lives by suicide.

“People who experience suicidal thoughts and feelings are suffering with tremendous emotional pain. People who have died by suicide typically had overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, despair, and helplessness. Suicide is not about a moral weakness or a character flaw. People considering suicide feel as though their pain will never end and that suicide is the only way to stop the suffering.

“Many factors and circumstances can contribute to someone’s decision to end his/her life. Factors such as loss, addictions, childhood trauma or other forms of trauma, depression, serious physical illness, and major life changes can make some people feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. It is important to remember that it isn’t necessarily the nature of the loss or stressor that is as important as the individual’s experience of these things feeling unbearable.”

Could I have done something?

It is very common for those bereaved by suicide to feel guilty and ask if they could have done something to prevent it. Did we miss a sign or, if there were indications, should we have done more? We may be upset that the person didn’t come to us for help.  Survivors often say that even when someone had appeared troubled, they seemed to be getting better and were in a happy, positive mood in the days before they died.   

Blaming yourself is a common reaction but can be damaging to your health and recovery. As hard as it is to accept, we cannot be responsible for what happened, no matter how close we were to the person or how much we loved them.  

It is important to know that these questions and feelings are normal reactions to a suicide and that talking with others who share something of your experience can help you reach a place of relative peace and acceptance.

Suicide and the media

Suicide is a public health issue. How the media covers suicide can have a negative and positive effect - sensational reporting may lead to "copycat" behaviour while informed coverage can play a significant role in de-stigmatising suicide and encourage people to seek help.  If you work in the media, we ask you to follow the recommendations of ReportingOnSuicide.org

These recommendations were  developed by leading experts in suicide prevention and in collaboration with several international suicide prevention and public health organisations, schools of journalism, media organisations and key journalists as well as Internet safety experts.

​* as of June 15, 2018. Does not include suicides of Bermudians or residents while overseas, nor where evidence of suicide was inconclusive and death ruled as accidental or misadventure.