Suicide is a complex phenomenon wherein multiple parameters intersect: psychological, medical, moral, religious, social, economic and political. Over the decades, however, it has been increasingly and almost exclusively come to be viewed through a biomedical prism. Colonized thus by health and more specifically mental health professionals, alternative and complimentary approaches have been excluded from the discourse. The review questions many basic premises, which have been taken as given in this context, particularly the ‘90 percent statistic’ derived from methodologically flawed psychological autopsy studies.
An alternative perspective posits that suicide is a societal problem which has been expropriated by health professionals, with little to show for the efficacy of public health interventions such as national suicide prevention plans, which continue to be ritually rolled out despite a consistent record of repeated failures. This view is supported by macro-level data from studies across national borders.
The current framing of suicide as a public health and mental health problem, amenable to biomedical interventions has stifled seminal discourse on the subject. We need to jettison this tunnel vision and move on to a more inclusive approach.