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Paths Out of Darkness

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Paths Out of Darkness


5 min read
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There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to preventing suicide, but help may come from unexpected places. 

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  • Scientific
  • Applicable
  • Inspiring


Why do people take their own lives? There’s no single answer to this question. Suicide is complex and often misunderstood. For a long time, suicide was a taboo topic and funding for research into its causes and prevention was lacking. Yet scientists and health professionals are making inroads into finding new and at times surprisingly simple ways to throw a lifeline to people at risk of committing suicide. This collection of articles provides an excellent overview of and insight into recent advances in tackling suicide. 


Suicide is a global problem, but suicide rates differ widely between countries.

Many countries have seen a decline in suicides over the last 20 years. Middle Eastern countries and Indonesia lead the way with the lowest suicide rates worldwide. Yet others, such as Eastern European countries, Africa and the United States, are experiencing a rise in the number of people committing suicide.

In the United States, it is particularly men in rural areas that are in danger of taking their own lives. Also, for young people aged between 10-34, suicide is one of the top causes of death in the United States. 

Treating depression as a single disease can increase the risk of sufferers attempting suicide. 

While those who suffer from depression don’t necessarily have suicidal tendencies, there is a clear correlation between unsuccessful depression treatments and suicide attempts.

Researchers have found that some people who suffer from depression don’t respond to regular treatments such as antidepressants or therapy. This is because depression is not a single disease, but actually has many sub-types. These sub-types affect different parts of the brain, ...

About the Authors

Jennifer Couzin-Frankel and Kelly Servick are staff writers at Science. Program Coordinator at Science Meagan Weiland provides data analysis and research support. Emily Underwood is a Science reporter. Greg Miller is a science journalist in Portland, Oregon.

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