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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 November 2005, 16:46 GMT
By Their Own Hand
First broadcast October 2005

Suicide is often the result of a complex web of factors. Psychiatric problems, family and relationship difficulties, money worries and drug and alcohol abuse each may feature in the decision to take one's own life. The result is tragic, especially to those left behind.

But as devastating as this is, there are wider implications. Suicide rates are at a critical point in some societies: in some countries it is claiming more lives than war, and in others it is claiming more lives than road accidents.

By Their Own Hand investigates this disturbing phenomenon, asking why some people choose to take their own lives and what happens when they do so.

The programmes take us to Lithuania, which suffers the highest per capita suicide rate of all, and to Japan, where, for centuries, suicide has long been seen as a way out of impossible situations.

However, there is hope. Alternatives to suicide exist for those willing to seek them out. But what can others do? The programme uncovers the protective measures that friends, family and governments can do to help suicide from happening.

By their own hand - Part 1 - Why Suicide Happens?

In this programme, the various factors involved in a person's decision to take his or her own life are considered.

A seemingly unbreakable sense of hopelessness is usually involved. Often this stems from psychiatric illness such as depression, from drug or alcohol dependency, or from deep-rooted family problems such as child abuse.

But this is not the whole story. For, if it were, suicide rates would be relatively constant over time and across different countries, reflecting the more or less stable incidence of these problems. So, what else is involved?

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