On Suicide Prevention Day, Heres How We Can Collectively Reach Out And Help Those In Need

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The Logical Indian Crew

On Suicide Prevention Day, Here's How We Can Collectively Reach Out And Help Those In Need

More than 7,00,000 people die due to suicide every year. This, however, can be prevented to an extent by creating awareness and a safe space for people to express themselves. Here's how you can help and seek help.

World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is a day that has been earmarked since 2003 by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), along with the World Health Organization (WHO) to help prevent likely attempts at suicide by people across the world. WHO estimated that more than 700,000 people die due to suicide every year, and for every suicide, there are many more who have attempted it or have thought about committing suicide.

It's a worrying concern that has impacted families, communities, and countries at large. Bringing all these affected elements together, the WSPD 2022 is being observed under the theme "Creating Hope Through Action". Under this banner, the institutions have been encouraging understanding, reaching out and sharing experiences to provide a source of hope for those who may have felt suicidal.

It all leads to amplifying the message that suicide can be prevented.

History, Theme & Significance In India

September 10th has been marked as the suicide prevention day across the globe, and it is observed to raise awareness and prevent people from committing suicide. It was established in 2003 by the IASP in collaboration with the WHO. They highlight the role each and every individual plays in reaching out to people and creating a safe environment.

An article by News18 reflects on this idea and says that be it a parent, sibling, or even a colleague; every individual can bring change to someone's life by identifying the person at risk and creating a safe environment for them to express and find help. The theme followed from 2021-23 is in accordance with this idea, which says "Creating hope through action".

Recent reports by the National Crime Records Bureau 2019-21, revealed that over four crore individuals died by suicide in the 54 years of records available with them. The numbers had peaked during the pandemic, with 1,65,033 suicides reported in 2021 alone.

A report by the Free Press Journal, quoted Dr Naresh Purohit, advisor of the National Mental Health Programme, who noted that "India holds the record of the highest number of deaths by suicide and two-thirds of them are youths. Nearly 150 million Indians need active psychological intervention. However, the prevalence rate is much more, and about one-sixth of all suicides are said to be caused due to mental health issues".

Identifying it as a major public health issue, he quoted data by WHO which said that globally there is a death by suicide every 40 seconds. In India, it was the third leading cause of death in 15-29-year-old females and the fourth leading cause for males of this age group. It goes beyond this data, as for every death by suicide, there are over 60 people who are impacted by the loss of a loved one and 20 among them who attempt suicide.

Elaborating on the same, he said that "severe depression, traumatic stress, interpersonal problems, failed marriages, unemployment, financial issues, academic failure and substance or alcohol addiction" are among the many reasons that push youngsters and others to the edge. Substantiating this is the NCRB data of 2020, which found that a student in India took their own life every 42 minutes, and over 30 students died every single day by suicide.

Watch Out For The Signs

A practising psychology professional told the Logical Indian, "A suicide victim is constantly sending out signals, we just have to be able to read them right and reach out to them. It's not always an easy task, but with a little effort we can help many out there".

Among the many agreed-upon risk signs to look out for are, talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, making comments on losing hope or feeling worthless, expressing that they have lost all reason/will to live, finding no sense of purpose in life, referring to quitting.

These are verbal signs that one can look out for to identify a suicidal person. However, it is a lot more complex than that and can extend to signs that we often ignore, such as withdrawal from friends and family, impulsively indulging in risky activities, dramatic mood swings, increased alcohol/substance abuse, and so on.

The space for risks had increased right at the onset of the pandemic and mental health experts had warned the possibility of a concurrent increase in suicide rates. Family and friends are often categorised as the first groups to recognise the signs. These are also the groups that happen to have the power to make the change by initiating a conversation and suggesting seeking help.

Normalise seeking professional help for mental health issues in a similar manner to how a general doctor would be consulted for physical health issues. Encourage them to talk about it and support them by every little means, such as accompanying them for their first session, ensuring with them, and openly sharing emotions.

Also know that it's never wrong to openly ask them how they are feeling, or if they are feeling suicidal. It plays a key role in identifying their emotions and keeping them safe accordingly. While one may be hesitant to straight up ask "Are you thinking of killing yourself?" research has shown that it has been helpful to put it outrightly.

Hear them out and acknowledge how they feel without downplaying it, and help them around with finding help.

Stories Of Survivors On Social Media

An article by the Indian Express quoted Dr Pratima Murthy, director of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (Nimhans), saying, "We can play a significant role by preventing suicide, and we can do that by supporting those who are experiencing any kind of crisis. We need to avoid stigmatising suicide".

She spoke about the importance of sharing personal stories of hope, survival, and recovery, as it showed people at risk that they're not alone in their journey. This kind of social support has often been linked to providing a safety net for those who are prone to suicide, as it helps them believe that they too can express themselves without being judged or criticised.

On the day of World Suicide Prevention Day, many netizens took to the internet to share their stories, and many found it reassuring to know about shared stories.

Help Is Around The Corner

Speaking to the Logical Indian, Nirosha Malik, a master's graduate in psychology currently working as an HR Assistant, said that "People easily think that people who commit/attempt/or even think of suicide are cowards, but please know that they are anything but cowards". Being compassionate and understanding plays a huge role in preventing such incidents.

Especially in a community which attaches taboo around mental health issues and finds it problematic to seek help, breaking it down into a supportive environment can help change the narrative.

She added that "Triggers do not necessarily have to be huge. A minor inconvenience could drive me to a dark place of thoughts such as 'I am not worth living'". She said that what helped her out through many such scenarios were talks with her professors who have specialised in psychology, and on some days, she simply reminds herself that "I don't want to deny myself the opportunity to get better; I know there may or may not be a way out of this".

During the pandemic, many psychology students like her had come forth to provide support. They offered pro-bono therapy sessions and helped create a positive space where students and others could come to talk openly and seek help. It was also a time when several additional helplines and toll-free numbers made their way as the number of people needing help increased.

Some free helplines that work around the clock and can be reached out to are, iCall (9152987821), Aasra (91 9820466726), Maithri (91 484 2540530), and others. You can also access the collated list of working free helplines across different states in India through the suicide prevention helpline directory of Aasra.

Also Read: COVID-19 Pandemic Disrupted Mental Health Services In 93% Countries: WHO

Contributors Suggest Correction
Writer : Laxmi Mohan Kumar
Editor : Snehadri Sarkar
Creatives : Laxmi Mohan Kumar

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