Today marks International Mental Health Day. One of the most relevant indicators to measure mental health in a society is the incidence of suicides. In Mexico, the institution responsible for measuring this type of events is the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), which measures mental health levels based on two main indicators: the number of registered suicides and the percentage of deaths by suicide with respect to the total violent deaths.
The number of suicides has increased steadily in Mexico. In 2006, INEGI reported 4,277 cases of suicide, while in 2016 they increased to 6,370 cases. This means that in just 10 years the number of suicides has increased by 67.2 percent. According to the International Journal of Conflict and Violence, homicide and suicide a close related behavior, as these represent the taking of human life by a human and a similar motivation. “Contemporary thinking in cultural domains postulates that homicide and suicide are acts of violence that differ only by the direction of aggression,” it says.
In 2016, INEGI reported that the average percentage of deaths by suicide in relation to the total number of deaths in the country was 8.7 percent. This means the cause of death of 8.7 percent of the total number of deaths in Mexico were suicides. The state of Yucatan headed the list with a 26.3 percent of suicides, while Guerrero was the state with the lowest percentage: 2.2 percent.
Depression is also an indicator used to measure mental health. “A person experiencing depression will experience intense emotions of anxiety, hopelessness, negativity and helplessness, and the feelings stay with them instead of going away,” explains the Mental Health Foundation.
A positive mental health indicator is happiness, that beyond being merely a state of the mind, can be seen as the composition of several elements that make up well-being. “Those countries that head the rankings have a high performance in offering the population good income opportunity, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity,” says the World Happiness Report (WHR) published in 2018 by the United Nations (UN). Mexico holds the 24th position in this ranking, above countries such as Chile, Brazil and Argentina.
Latin American and Caribbean countries occupy a higher place than other countries in the region, suggesting that happiness could be linked to a cultural characteristic. According to an article published by the University of Oxford, cultural differences play a role in the way people feel and demonstrate positive states such as happiness. “The focus on personal care of warm and close interpersonal relationships with family and friends, as well as the centrality of the family, encourages the experience and expression of emotions and a relative disdain for materialistic values,” the report explains.
Industry Analyst and Journalist at Mexico Business Publishing