A conflict with colleagues or relatives, a love break and even giving a speech of more than three minutes before an audience generate “social stress” in adolescents. When at the same time there is “high stress in interpersonal relationships”, which accumulates, can arise suicidal thoughts and behaviorswhose manifestation ranges from planning suicide, trying but interrupting it and carrying it out, affirms a study by scientists from the universities of North Carolina, Duke, Illinois, California and Harvard (all in the US). With a sample of 185 women between 12 and 17 years old who attended centers specialized in mental health, the research proposed understand the causes of suicidal behavior from the onset of puberty.
This cocktail does not, however, have the same self-destructive effect on all individuals. The context and sensitivity of each person They were also determining factors in the possibility that the young woman would harm herself. “The individual differences in cognitive processes may help explain why adolescents process and respond to social stress in ways that increase their vulnerability to suicidal behavior,” according to the article published Thursday in the Journal of Psychopathology and Clinical Science.
Suicidal ideas arise when young people fail to create a “self-protection” to “something unpleasant” or perceive a decrease in the “affection” they receive. Vulnerability increases when taking one’s own life is associated with “running away.” Adolescents who choose to die seek evasion and alleviate their grief, the authors indicate. “People with suicidal tendencies have shown a bias towards an active response to escape,” indicate the results of the simulated tests carried out within this investigation endorsed by the American Psychological Association.
In these cases, the key is to help them develop skills to overcome “social stress” situations that can lead young people, especially girls, to consider that suicide is a way to resolve anguish. This phenomenon has been called “active escape bias”.
The results revealed that the ability to solve problems decreased in the episodes that generated acute stress, as can be considered the bullying. The response to external pressure ranged from self-blame and defeatism to feeling trapped, which increased the inability to make the right decisions.
Suicidal behavior, they conclude, occurs if there is a combination of several causes. In this sense, this study empirically and theoretically supports what the organization Anar maintains in Spain, which calls for “do not attribute suicide to a single cause”, like bullying, which is what has happened with the six cases of minors who have taken their lives in recent months. “Suicide is a multifactorial phenomenon that can never be attributed to a single cause,” says Anar.
“Social stress can negatively impact the way problems are dealt with, affecting self-esteem and problem-solving effectiveness,” the study maintains, “which can perpetuate the Adverse effects of the social elements that produce stress”.
The participants were subjected to theoretical conflictssuch as preparing a task in one minute that would later be viewed by a virtual audience, while being followed up for nine months to learn about their real problems and how they solved them.
“These findings from practice support the theory that the lack of skills to effectively manage and resolve problems in relationships with other people are related to suicidal behavior,” said Olivia Pollak, a researcher at the University of North Carolina at Hill, and lead author of the paper. “Clinically it’s an important result because teaching how to achieve problem solving is crucial in therapies for suicidal or self-injurious behaviors”.
Anxiety also produces a reduction in the ability of the individual to adopt solutions to the stressful situations that he lives. Effective problem solving includes engaging with the facts and developing greater resilience, which the authors call “short-term tolerance”to the discomfort experienced, overcoming “interferences” such as “distraction, socio-environmental information or a wrong understanding of the problem”.