Focus on mental health to curb suicides

The NCRB data showing an increase of 7.17% suicides over previous year is also understandable given the unhealthy lifestyle and values we continue to embrace
Last Updated : 07 September 2022, 23:58 IST
Last Updated : 07 September 2022, 23:58 IST

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Failure to qualify in civil service exams or secure admission in a college of repute after Grade 12 are enough reasons for hundreds of students to commit suicide every year in India though at least four times more attempt suicide, and still more are beset with depression for not achieving what they had long been aspiring to. Unable to cope with family disputes, chronic illness, unreciprocated love, loss of dear ones, grievous guilt or wrangles over division of property, many are pushed to commit suicide.

Suicide prevention remains a universal challenge. It is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages, responsible for around eight lakh deaths annually, which translates to one suicide every 40 seconds.

In India, the daily wagers have emerged as the largest segment of suicide victims, a fourth of the total 1,64,033 suicides in 2021, as recently reported by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Coming in the backdrop of huge loss of livelihoods due to Covid-19 since March 2020, the NCRB data may be on the expected lines but still unconscionable.

The NCRB data showing an increase of 7.17 per cent suicides over previous year is also understandable given the unhealthy lifestyle and values we continue to embrace. The data further reveal that gender, marital status, education and income do not make a significant difference in suicide figures.

The fact that suicide rates are not much different among students in coveted medical and engineering institutions or those serving in key positions, from other segments of population, attests that decision to end one’s life is related to individual’s mindset and not to the one’s present status and circumstances. The case of a POCSO judge who hung himself in Cuttack recently, is a case in point. Faced with a difficult situation, one may surrender while another may take up cudgels, more invigorated.

Among celebrities, mostly in the film world, many have called it quits in life: Mya-Lecia Naylor, Anthony Bourdain, Stephanie Adams Clay Adler, Ross Alexander, Gia Allemand, Keith Andes et al; closer home: Sushant Singh, Saibal Bhattacharya, Pallavi Dey, Bidisha De Majumder, Manjusha Niyogi, Saraswati Das and Rashmirekha Ojha.

With a belief that appropriate education and awareness can mitigate the incidence of suicide, World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is observed on Septemeber 10 every year by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the WHO, a co-sponsor of meetings and events related to WSPD. The IASP and WHO work with governments, civil society and philanthropic partners to ensure suicide is no longer stigmatised, criminalised or penalised. Care and concern for someone at risk of suicide and also the bereaved are major modalities. Taking the ‘at-risk’ into confidence with words like ‘how can I help’ can be a succour to one engulfed in pessimism. At home, agencies like AASRA, Snehi, Fortis MentalHealth, Connecting NGO and Vandrevala Foundation have been able to infuse hope among the aid seekers.

Shedding isolation

A friend is deemed more effective in treating a psychiatric patient than medication. Absence of friends and subsequent isolation increases the risk of suicide. A strong social connection is a known protective cover against it. Various studies have concluded that people with intimate friendships lead a stress-free, happy life in old age.

Except for people with terminal illness, who are a strain on family and community, suicidal thought is a reflection of a diseased perception about life. In moments of extreme anguish, a weak person may be oblivious that the hardships on our path are meant to strengthen us, not to destroy us and that each obstacle has to be viewed as an exercise to be solved.

There are no roses sans thorns that too must be accepted. “Don’t pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one,” said Bruce Lee.

It is time we taught our children the joys and value of sharing whatever is in excess of actual needs and live a connected life; and learn to live life spontaneously peppered with intimate interactions, which are vital for positive life.

(The writer is a Delhi-based journalist & blogger and writes on social, health and spiritual issues.)

(Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author's own. They do not necessarily reflect the views of DH.)

Published 07 September 2022, 17:29 IST

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