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Suicide in India And Ways to Address It Healthily, Dr Keerti Sachdeva, Psychologist Tell Us How

World Suicide Prevention Day 2020: As India reels under the burden of the Covid-19 pandemic, another psychological pandemic seems to have exacerbated as well. While the country already has a high incidence of suicides, they pose a threat even more now with the increased anxiety levels, uncertainty, insecurity, and in those with existing mental health issues. Statistics by the World Health Organization indicate that death due to suicide occurs every 40 seconds. As per the National Health Profile 2018, about 44,593 of the 1,33,623 suicides (33.37%) were committed by people between the ages of 30 and 45. It is a public health crisis that needs urgent attention and intervention – in ways that are aimed at helping people who are susceptible in a healthy manner. Also Read – Mediterranean Diet May Protect Against Rheumatoid Arthritis Suggest Studies

Depression and other issues are often passed off as a temporary phase especially when they manifest in the younger generation. What further worsens the situation and prevents people from opening up is the stigma surrounding mental health and lack of awareness. It is important to understand the emotional rollercoaster that the person undergoes and the fact that they lose complete interest in life. Suicide is a huge step and people do not die because they want to but because they feel there is no hope left. An additional “factor” here is the pressure exerted by social media, a medium that feeds on anxiety. The fact that mental illness and suicidal tendencies do not manifest physically makes it difficult for people to understand what a person is going through. Also Read – COVID-19: Experts Says Obese Young Adults More Likely To Get Affected From The Deadly Virus

There are ways in which one can help loved ones to cope with their condition and offer support, in a healthy manner. It is important to be open to communication and offer understanding, empathy, and respect. The fact that someone confides in you is a sign that they want to share something with you. However, make sure to not bombard them with questions and allow them to open up on their own – and above all, respect their privacy. While therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes can take their own time and course, at a micro level, people around can help take charge. Also Read – 7 Indian Destinations For Solo Travel If You Are A Woman

There is also a need to create large-scale awareness of the fact that suicide is a huge issue. This is more so because our society places a lot of emphasis on being strong mentally and emotionally and it is often considered abnormal to remain low for longer periods. The stressors of life and something like the recent pandemic can add to this burden. Mental health issues must be addressed in educational institutions through workshops and counselling must be provided to those who need it. Making it a mainstream topic of discussion will help people facing mental health issues or anxiety, etc., to eventually come out, discuss, and seek help.
There is a common misconception that suicide cannot be prevented and people have already made up their mind to die. However, the need is to identify and correct the underlying problem. The WHO has endorsed what is called the QPR (Question, Persuade and Refer) Gatekeeper Training online through which people learn how to understand warning signs, identify risk factors, and encourage those contemplating suicide to seek help. Preventing suicide is everyone’s business and it is important to encourage people to undertake this training.

The decriminalization of suicide was a welcome step but the need of the hour is to recognize it as a public health crisis. A national suicide prevention policy addressing the entire population should be given utmost priority and this should focus on increasing awareness, reducing stigma, collecting data, and media reporting of suicides in a more responsible manner. It is time to make a concerted effort as a country to tackle this issue and ensure that the physical health pandemic does not grow into a mental health one.

(The following article has been written by Dr Keerti Sachdeva, Clinical Psychologist, United We Care)

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