Suicide is a Baobab Tree: A Narrative Medicine Case Study.


This case study is an example of applying narrative medicine as a useful tool for health professionals to manage an existential and complex scenario such as the suicide of a sibling. Some suicides are like baobab trees—these large and resilient trees grow deep roots for many years, only spreading their limbs above ground once they are firmly established. Like the baobab, when suicide or a suicide attempt occurs, suicidal ideations are well cultivated and have often already been repeatedly planted. Consequently, suicide is often difficult to prevent: once the death seed is planted, it is difficult to recreate life. Every year, more than 800,000 people die by suicide worldwide (1.4% of all deaths), which is approximately 1 person every 40 seconds. These unexpected deaths, predominantly occuring among young and middle-aged adults, have a continuing ripple effect and result in a huge economic, social, and psychological burden for individuals, families, communities, and countries. The complexity of suffering and pain experienced by suicidal individuals and their families, regardless of the success or failure of the suicidal act, is intensified by strong stigmas attached to traditional concepts of sin and eternal damnation. This unfortunate reality emerges in the narrative as a tragic family drama, which is permeated by deep feelings of helplessness. But suicide is preventable. Prevention requires 3 important factors: knowledge, public support, and creation of strategies to enact social change. Now is the time to act and make suicide prevention an imperative goal.

DOI: 10.7812/TPP/14-201

Cite this paper

@article{Facioli2015SuicideIA, title={Suicide is a Baobab Tree: A Narrative Medicine Case Study.}, author={Adriano Machado Facioli and F{\'a}bio Ferreira Amorim and Karlo Jozefo Quadros de Almeida and Eliana Mendonça Vilar Trindade}, journal={The Permanente journal}, year={2015}, volume={19 3}, pages={90-4} }