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Increase in suicide among young adults – Bastiaan (21) also saw no outcome

Last June, 33 young people, up to the age of 30, died by suicide in the Netherlands. In August there were 34. And this while the monthly average in this age group is just above twenty. These are Foundation 113 figures, and they are worried.

Best friend

The saddest stories are hidden behind the numbers, Sophie Heesen knows from experience. Like the story of her brother Bastiaan. “He was intelligent, creative, caring and social. A very nice brother, actually my best friend.”

To immediately add: “People may have a certain image of someone who is suicidal. That someone is very alone, or does little. This did not apply to Bastiaan. He spent the last summer of his life in France, where he was a dancer. at a children’s summer camp, which he wanted.”

Her brother did have depressive thoughts, for which he also sought help earlier. “He didn’t really feel fit in society.”

Not long before he turned eighteen, Bastiaan came out. At the kitchen table he reads a letter in which he says he likes boys. “My mother has already bought an educational book about dealing with your sexuality, she already expected it a little. We were also brought up with the idea: whoever you fall for, we will always love you. That he is gay, was welcomed very positively.”

Not a wrestler

Outside the safe family, Bastiaan did not always find only warmth. “I remember he was called ‘gay’ once when we were walking down the street together. I then responded with: can you keep your face for a while? Bastiaan didn’t say anything, he didn’t like to don’t argue..”

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Sophie didn’t know if he got reactions like that often. But according to the survey of 113, it appears that of the young people who sometimes think about suicide, 43 percent identify as part of the LGBTI community.

Often there is an ‘accumulation of factors’, the researchers write. And Sophie is convinced that this also applied to her brother. “He was very intelligent and had great ambitions. He wanted to be a diplomat, he always said. If you have a good brain, you can achieve a lot. But he also felt pressure to perform, I think.”

The last six months of his life did not go well. Bastiaan had discussions at a care institution. But nothing could stop him from choosing to “go to heaven”, as Sophie says.

‘Hardness remains’

Did she see it coming? “No. It was a shock. I was 19 years old. Bastiaan was my big brother, I saw him as my example. You don’t think that he can do something like that. I’ve never had such thoughts myself. “

How is she now? “I’ve come to terms with a lot in recent years. The sadness always remains, but it gets better.”

Also research RIVM

Research by, among others, the RIVM among young people between 12 and 25 years old last June, shows that sixteen percent sometimes have suicidal thoughts. This is 1 percent less than in December last year, when the country was closed due to the high number of corona infections. The study was conducted in June and the results appeared on Thursday.

The actual number of suicides among young people increased by about 15 percent last year.

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The RIVM research is separate from that of 113 Suicide Prevention, but the results also appeared this week.

Sophie is a councilor for the PvdA in Gouda and therefore also thinks in terms of political solutions. In this way, care can be much better, she says. She cites as an example how young people sometimes have to leave a youth care institution when they turn 18, while they are in the middle of a process and do not yet feel mature at all. “Extended youth care does exist, but vulnerable young people have to prove every six months that they still need that help. It really could be done better.”

She also hopes that there will be attention for young people who struggle outside of healthcare, for example from schools or employers. “That someone notices if things aren’t going well. If someone doesn’t turn up, for example. And that people are then asked further.”

Renske Gillissen, chief investigator at 113 Suicide Prevention, agrees. “Schools definitely have a big role to play.”

In the figures, provided by forensic doctors, she and her colleagues saw that an above-average number of young people committed suicide in June and August. An emergency investigation ensued. CBS data was viewed, chat conversations of 113 Suicide Prevention with young people in the month of August were analyzed, and a questionnaire was sent to more than 1,300 young people asking: “Have you ever seriously considered ending an end ? make your life?”

Many school dropouts

Psychological problems such as depression and anxiety, money worries, relationship problems and problems making social contacts; these are examples of problems that young people with suicidal thoughts often struggle with, says Gillissen. “They also have concerns about corona, the war, climate change. But no more than the people who have no thoughts of suicide.”

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Many of the young adults with suicidal thoughts join the LGBTQ community. This is perhaps the most remarkable result, according to researcher Gilissen: “Statistical figures show that many young people who committed suicide in 2021 were school leavers. 52 percent of the men stopped an education without a diploma, 40 percent of the women. . “

‘Talk about your problems’

Which brings us back to the role for schools: “Staying in touch and engaging with young people who are at risk of dropping out, that’s very important. What’s going on in your life? How are you really? How do your days look? But also: do you ever think about death?”

Sophie Heesen adds another message to the young people themselves: “Talk about your problems. Don’t be ashamed of it, but ring the bell. Don’t make it smaller than it is. And give yourself help, even if you think you deserve it not that.” She continues: “If you’re afraid to go to a family doctor, see a student psychologist, or a teacher you’re close to.”

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