Suicide is an act of purposefully ending ones own life which is not only a personal tragedy but a loss which affects an entire family and nation.
The good news is that it is preventable and we can do something about it.
According to WHO data, the age standardized suicide rate in India is 16.4 per 100,000 for women (6th highest in the world) and 25.8 for men (ranking 22nd). Around 150 million Indians are are suffering from mental illness but only ten percent can get the treatment and this treatment gap could be one of the prime reason for this high rate. Other important reasons could be lack of acceptance and awareness regarding mental health, lack of infrastructure and support.
The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day on October 10th is suicide prevention and awareness which is entitled ‘Forty Seconds of Action’ – referencing the fact that, every forty seconds, a person commits suicide!!
In India, most suicides occur among those aged fifteen to 39, with women more likely to take their own lives than men.
Preventive factors: Strong connections to family and community support, skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, and non-violent handling of disputes, personal, social, cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self-preservation, restricted access to means of suicide, seeking help and easy access to quality care for mental and physical illnesses, strong belief in the administration
Complicating factors: Presence of depression, past suicidal attempts, poor social support, strained family and work environment.When faced with a suicidal person- TALK. The first and most immediate step is mentally to allocate adequate time to the person , establish a positive rapport, open ended remarks like “you look very upset; tell me more about it” are useful, listening with empathy is in itself a major step in reducing the level of suicidal despair.
Everyone can become a suicide gatekeeper.
We can help a suicidal person by being a parent, being a friend, being a teacher , being a family,being a social worker. Being parents, continue to take threats seriously, access school supports and maintain communication with school. Being a friend, do not leave a suicidal friend alone , talk to the friend, show concern to the friend , try to solve the problem and conflict resolution. Being a teacher, take suicide talk seriously, get help from professional doctor. Being a family, educate teen about suicide, and be available for them always. By doing so we can become the Suicide gatekeepers.
If someone you know may be thinking about suicide, immediately seek professional help.