Suicide: Learned Helplessness and Suicide Awareness Voices Essay

Submitted By actionbrianna
Words: 851
Pages: 4

Do you ever feel like life is too hard to handle, or you have absolutely nothing to live for? Thoughts like these plague the minds of people around the world every day, and some people actually act on those thoughts. Suicide is defined as the act of voluntarily and intentionally taking one’s own life. Some people might say that suicide is involuntary; that the victims don’t want to die; they just can’t find another solution to an unbearable dilemma. My love for the human mind lead me to further pursue this idea. There is a plethora of reasons as to why someone would make a drastic decision as to killing themselves, but I would like to discuss what learned helplessness is, how it leads to depression and suicide, and the ways in which you can spot and help a potentially suicidal person. What is learned helplessness? A psychologist by the name of Martin Seligman defined learned helplessness as when a person (or animal) is conditioned by past experiences in which they were unable to escape punishment. This conditioning then leads them to accept punishing consequences in later situations when they could avoid them. For example, let’s take the woman who is being abused by her spouse. We often question why she hasn’t left, why she accepts the punishment that she doesn’t deserve? Well, she fails realize that she doesn’t have to live with the abuse. She begins to accept her way of life because previous attempts to escape have gotten her into more trouble. This is the most common example of learned helplessness. An American psychologist by the name of Lenore Walker studied the behavior of women who stayed in abusive relationships. She then theorized that women stay in abusive relationships because the violence strips them of their will to leave. The victims tend to feel helpless and most likely depressed as a result. Learned helplessness and depression go hand in hand. Martin Seligman noted that the effects of learned helplessness resemble the symptoms of depression. He proposed that people become depressed after developing a general belief that they have no control over the reinforcements in their lives. This theory was later noted as the Learned Helplessness Theory of Depression. This ideology has been revised to a certain degree in the past twenty years. To dovetail on this theory Dr. Lyn Abramson proposed the attribution-helplessness theory. According to this theory, when people view events to be out of their control, they ask themselves why. If they attribute their lack of control to an internal cause (a deficiency in themselves), that is both global (deficiency that is wide ranging), and stable (a deficiency that is long lasting), they may not feel inclined to prevent future negative outcomes and may experience depression. In other words, learned helplessness leads to depression, and untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide. According to the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, over 90% of the people who die by suicide have an existing mental illness at the time of their death. The most prevalent is depression. The most common signs of depression are low mood and losing the interest to participate in everyday activities. Even though those are the easiest to spot,