After His Best Friend Died By Suicide, This Man Established A Suicide Prevention Foundation To Help People

Poorbita Bagchi

June 1st, 2018

This photo was shot a few years before Ryan died in 1999. (L-R: Ryan with spectacles, a mutual friend in middle and Nelson on the right)

“Oh, you’re not depressed, it’s all in your head.”

“Well, get over it. It’s not depression, you’re just sad.”

These are often the responses one gets when they try to talk about depression. Mental illness and depression are often mentioned in hushed tones behind closed doors. More so, in India, seeking help is a taboo too. About 800,000 people died because of suicide worldwide every year, of these 135,000 (17%) are from India. It’s high time people realise the perils of depression and not talking about it.

Depression is not the only reason for suicide. In India only 40-60 percent of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental health issue, for the rest, the reasons are psychosocial including physical illness, family problems, relationship issues, poverty, exam related and so on

Nelson Vinod Moses, an award-winning journalist and the founder of Suicide Prevention India Foundation is here to change the discussion around mental health.


Suicide Prevention India Foundation

The NGO, Suicide Prevention India Foundation (SPIF) was founded by Nelson after (because of) the tragic loss of his best friend. “When my best friend died by suicide it affected me quite badly and it took me a few years to find the right response to what could be done. After lots of research and thinking, I decided to work in the area of suicide prevention and awareness,” Nelson says.

He started Suicide Prevention India Foundation (in September 2017). “I sold my car to start the company,” Nelson says while mentioning that it is completely self-funded. SPIF aims to create a community-based platform for organizations and individuals involved or interested in awareness creation, self-care, research, advocacy, training and suicide prevention to come and fight suicide together.

“One of the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended suicide prevention strategies is to train individuals as “Gatekeepers” who learn to recognize early warning signs of suicide, provide the necessary intervention, and help those who are suicidal to access mental health services. While there are millions of trained Gatekeepers in the USA, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, India has less than a 1000 trained Gatekeepers. SPIF is targeting training 25,000 Gatekeepers and 150 Gatekeeper instructors across India in 2018-19,” Nelson says while talking about suicide prevention.

SPIF’s basic aim is to 1) Suicide prevention through online and offline training programs 2) Mental health professionals directory to refer those who are suicidal consisting only of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists 3) Conducting suicide awareness workshops to highlight the serious issue that India faces, busting myths and talking about how suicide can be prevented 4) Suicide survivor India Project chronicling stories of those who have survived suicide.


Impacting Lives

Suicides are usually done with no one watching and it always comes out of the blue. There are some beautiful stories on the SPIF website that talks about hope and how suicide is never the answer to any problem.

One person, Anurag Khanna, who is a suicide survivor and has been depressed for a certain period writes “Suicide is not the answer. Firstly, eradicate the concept of failure from your mind. You are better than you think, you just need to improve.”


The Logical Indian Take

Suicide is never the answer. If you ever feel down, seek help. “Some days were fine but on some days, I would not feel like leaving my bed and would call-in sick in office. Previously, there were days when I would have only one meal a day, would try to avoid people, and isolate myself. Support from my loved ones kept me going. It still is,” Anurag writes. So, it is always good to remember that there is help out there. There are loved ones hoping to support you through the tough times.


If you are currently feeling depressed or suicidal, please call one of these 24/7 suicide prevention helplines:
Vandrevala Foundation Helpline – 1 860 266 2345
Aasra – +91 22 2754 6669
Sneha – 91-44-2464 0050/ 91-44-2464 0060
iCall – 022-25521111 (Mon to Sat from 8am – 10pm)

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