World Suicide Prevention Day: 10th September
10th September every year is observed globally as World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) in order to conduct various events, campaigns, workshops and action-oriented programmes to contribute towards making our world free of suicides and attempts to commit suicide. It was launched in 2011 by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), the World Health Organization and the World Federation for Mental Health. The theme for this day this year as decided by IASP is ‘Connect, communicate, care’
Numbers speak volumes:
Every 40 seconds a life is lost through suicide (Worldwide as per WHO data). In India, in every 3 seconds, a person attempts to die. According to WHO report, “Preventing Suicide, A Global Imperative” in 2012 there were a whopping 8 lakh suicide deaths all over the world. It is the leading cause of death in the age-group between 15-29-years. Based on this parameter, the worst countries were North and South Korea, Guyana, Lithuania and Sri Lanka. India had nearly 2.6 lakh suicides, overtaking China which counted 1.2 lakh.
While the world average number of suicides due to all causes is 11.6 per 100, 000. India’s annual suicide rate is 10.5 per 100,000. It occupies the 12th position in the world. The least rate of suicidal deaths comes from the Scandinavian countries which are often perceived as societies with high suicide rates.
Internationally, suicide accounts for 50% of all violent deaths in men and 71% in women. In India, the male-to-female ratio is 1.6. In 2012, 1.6 lakh men committed suicide though there has been a decline in the suicidal rate since then.
If we talk about suicide rates state wise, the southern states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu along with eastern state of West Bengal, Tripura and Mizoram have a suicide rate of greater than 16 while in the Northern States of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the suicide rate is less than 4.
What drives people to take the extreme step?
Marriage-related issues, bankruptcy or indebtedness, non-settlement of marriage (misuse of Section 498(A) of IPC and the Domestic Violence Act of 2005), dowry related issues, extramarital affairs, divorce, failure in examination, impotence / infertility, family troubles, illness, AIDS / STD, cancer, paralysis, insanity, mental illness, bereavement of a dear one, drug addition, fall in social reputation, love affairs, poverty, unemployment, property dispute, suspected / illicit relation, hero worshipping and property dispute are the major causes of suicides as per the records of 2014.
How do they do it?
The most common methods for committing suicide in 2012 were poisoning (33%), hanging (31%), burning oneself (9%).
Government’s stand on suicide in India:
Suicide is a legal crime in India inviting maximum punishment of one year according to Indian Penal Code 309. Indian government classifies a death as suicide if the death is unnatural, the victim himself / herself thought of the death and there was a known on the unknown motive behind the death.
How to combat this crisis?
In 2003, a three-pronged method to prevent suicides was suggested. – reducing social isolation, preventing social disintegration and treating mental disorders. It is here that IASP’s theme, ‘Connect, communicate, care’, becomes central in dealing with this crisis. Although reasons behind attempts to suicide or suicides by different individuals vary in nuances, it is often fallout of events and circumstances which have been playing out in the victim’s mind for a long period of time. Connecting with family members of such victims help understand these circumstances better which becomes crucial in preventing such contexts from building up in the lives of our near and dear ones.
Instead of shrouding the event of suicide in silence, considering it as a taboo, it is important that those having suicidal thoughts or those who have been bereaved openly and honestly communicate about their feelings to others. Regarding it as a public health issue which need not be swept under the carpet, training people to use different approaches sensitively, compassionately and non-judgmentally in order to make the sufferer comfortable and speak out their minds, goes a long way towards providing a safety valve to vent out those negative emotions and look for ways to channelize their energies in a positive and fulfilling manner. Those having suicidal thoughts have to be made aware of the fact that suicide does not end pain, it simply passes on to the loved ones who live on with the memories. If need be, medicines may be prescribed.
At the crux of all the above efforts lay the “care” provided to this important public health issue by the global citizens, health care specialists, policy makers, strategists and governments else the very aim of observing World Suicide Prevention Day would fall flat.
One such initiative taken to create awareness on World Suicide Prevention Day, 2016 is by The Logical Indian with Swati Kumari, a young Indian author who lost her mother to suicide on 27th October, 2013. At that time Swati had been diagnosed with tuberculosis and undergoing treatment for the same with no visible results when one day she was not able to reach her mother since both her mobile phones were switched off. Later she got the news that her mother had thrown herself in front of a moving train and all that was found for cremation were body pieces.
Who would not have broken down in the face of such an event? It was no surprise that Swati did, too. However, she did not give in to the emotions welling up inside her. Instead, she decided to brave the challenge by writing a book, Without A Goodbye on what drove her mother to take the extreme step in order to spread the message to her readers that committing suicide is only a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Swati asserts that suicide is not the answer to any questions. On the contrary, the juncture at which suicidal thoughts invade us should become the “dot”, the full stop provided at the end of one phase of life so that another fresh phase can begin again. This is the theme of Swati and Saurav Anuraj’s next book, Amayra: The Essence Of Life which happens to be the world’s first ever photo-story book to create awareness on the topic.
The Logical Indian community requests our community members to seek help for people who are having suicidal thoughts.
Let us together find solutions to the factors that lead to suicide – together we can make it a new beginning instead of an end! After all, life is precious and needs to be cherished, not wasted away to death!