Increase in suicides among young adults – Bastiaan (21) also saw no way out

Last June, 33 young people up to the age of 30 committed suicide in the Netherlands. In August they were 34. And that while the monthly average in this age group is just over twenty years old. These are Foundation 113 figures and they are concerned.

Best friend

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

To add immediately: “People may have a certain image of someone who tends to commit suicide. That someone is very lonely, or does little. This was not true of Bastiaan. He spent the last summer of his life in France, where he was dancer in a children’s summer camp, who wanted to have fun. “

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

Not long before he turned eighteen, Bastiaan came out. At the kitchen table he read a letter saying he liked boys. “My mother had already bought an educational book on how to deal with your sexuality, she was expecting it for a while. We were also raised with the idea: whoever falls in love, we will always love you. That he is gay was very positively received. “

Not a brawler

Outside of the safe family, Bastiaan didn’t always find just warmth. “I remember he was once called ‘gay’ as we walked down the street together. Then I said, can you hold his face for a while? Bastiaan didn’t say anything, he didn’t like fighting at all.”

Sophie doesn’t know if she has often had such reactions. But according to the 113th poll, it appears that of the young people who sometimes think about suicide, 43 percent identify themselves as part of the LGBTI community.

There is often an “accumulation of factors,” the researchers write. And Sophie is convinced that this also applies to her brother. “He was very smart and had big 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 the pressure to perform, I think.”

The last six months of his life have not gone well. Bastiaan had conversations in a nursing home. But nothing could stop him from choosing to “go to heaven”, as Sophie puts it.

‘The sadness remains’

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

How is she now? “I have elaborated a lot in recent years. The sadness always remains, but it is getting better.”

Also research RIVM

Research conducted by RIVM among others among young people between 12 and 25 last June shows that 16% sometimes have suicidal thoughts. This is 1% less than in December last year, when the country was shut down 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.

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

Sophie is a councilor of the PvdA in Gouda and therefore also thinks about political solutions. That way, assistance can be much better, she says. She cites as an example how young people sometimes have to leave a youth welfare institution when they turn 18, while they are in the middle of a process and still don’t feel like adults. “There is extensive youth care, but vulnerable young people have to prove every six months that they still need that help. This really can be done even better.”

He also hopes that there will be attention for young people who are struggling outside of health care, for example from schools or employers. “Let someone notice if things are not going well. If someone does not show up, for example. And that people are then questioned further.”

Renske Gillissen, principal investigator of 113 Suicide Prevention, agrees. “Schools certainly have an important role to play.”

In data provided by the medical examiners, she and her colleagues saw that an above-average number of young people committed suicide in June and August. An emergency investigation followed. CBS data was viewed, 113 Suicide Prevention chat conversations with young people were analyzed in August, and a questionnaire was sent out to more than 1,300 young people, asking, “In the past 12 months, have you ever seriously considered to end a finish? make your life? “

Many drop out of school

Psychological problems such as depression and anxiety, economic worries, relationship problems and difficulties in making social contacts; these are examples of problems young people with suicidal thoughts often struggle with, says Gillissen. “They also have concerns about the crown, war, climate change. But no more than people who don’t have suicidal thoughts.”

Many of the young adults with suicidal thoughts join the LGBTQ community. It is perhaps the most remarkable finding, according to researcher Gilissen: “Statistics show that many young people who committed suicide in 2021 had dropped out of school. 52 percent of men had dropped out of school without a degree, 40 percent of the women. . “

‘Talk about your problems’

Which brings us back to the role of schools: “Keeping in touch and talking to young people at risk of dropping out of school is really important. What is happening in your life? How are you really? How are your days looking? But also: do you think? never to death? “

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

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