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Psychologist Enrique Echeburúa: ‘People who die by suicide want to stop suffering, not to stop living’ (


Enrique Echeburúa at his office, in San Sebastián, Spain.© Javier Hernandez Juantegui (EL PAÍS)

To read more of Daniel Mediavilla's article, please click here.

Enrique Echeburúa (San Sebastian, Spain, 72 years old), Professor Emeritus of Clinical Psychology at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), says that when a suicide occurs, there are other victims beyond the deceased, and they do not receive adequate support. “The first thing [we need to do] is make it easier for the family that has lost a child, or the person who has lost their partner, to unburden them, to be able to talk about it,” he explains. “Silence is the worst thing, because many people don’t talk to them, even their social circle of neighbors and friends, because they don’t know how to approach [them], which leads to social isolation,” Echeburúa continues in a video call conversation.

The psychologist just published a book entitled Death by Suicide. In just over 150 pages, Echeburúa summarizes the fundamental aspects of a particularly human and painful phenomenon. “We have a very high cognitive capacity that can make us experience suffering and disappointments very intensely, and it makes us aware that we can put an end to our lives. People who attempt suicide want to stop suffering, not stop living,” he says. In the book, he presents suicide as a public health problem and explains it so we can better understand it and combat the stigma that has made it difficult to take adequate prevention measures and increased the suffering of survivors.

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