Suicide prevention: From darkness to light

From darkness to light

Suicide prevention

Sa-Mudra's #LOVE-LIFE Campaign

One morning in 2008, Bharathi Singh sat with a cup of coffee to read the newspaper hoping for some good news. Instead, the headline ‘Karnataka is one of the leading scorers in suicide’ caught her attention.

This reminded her of a turbulent incident many summers ago, in which her son, a teenager, stuck a note to the door. It said: ‘I need help.’ He wanted counselling to resolve his many issues, but he wanted only a young and non-judgmental counsellor.

The statistics that the age group from 13 to 29 years is more vulnerable to suicides pushed Bharathi to quit her academic-related job to study the alarming trend of self-harming tendencies and explore possible solutions.

She obtained many professional courses, including a short-term course at NIMHANS, to understand why youngsters chose death over life.

Through her own primary data collection interviews, which included 300 college-goers, she found out the main reasons to be peer or parental pressure, low self-esteem, unrealistic expectations of academic institutions, anxiety driven by the need to score high, job security and relationships gone sore.

This is when Bharathi thought of creating a one-window platform to
handle youth issues, for, she believed that every young person could be helped through psycho-social interventions.

Sa-Mudra Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, began in August 2008.

Multi-pronged approach

This suicide prevention squad has seven approaches, taken in combination or not, depending on the case. 

Through the helpline Yuva Sahaya Vani, the underprivileged andthose with depression can reach out to a counsellor who will offer solutions to reach the brighter side of life.

The Santhwana Samalochana team, comprising psychologists, student counsellors, personality-development trainers offer face-to-face or telephonic counselling and guidance in matters related to exam stress, anxiety, depression, relationship conflicts, and also impart study skills required for SSLC and PUC exams.

Basic support

The two-month Moulya-Kaushalya (capacity building) programme offers the underprivileged skill and personality-development lessons and helps them get jobs. 

Take Jayesh’s (name changed) case. The 24-year-old, who lost his mother at birth, was troubled by his step-family. “I tried to end my life on several occasions and that’s was when I was referred to Sa-Mudra and met Bharathi ma’am. Through the Moulya-Kaushalya course, I realised how precious my life is. Today, I happily work in retail industry,” Jayesh says.

In addition, the campaign #LOVE–LIFE creates awareness among youngsters about the available help and early intervention to prevent suicide.

Gita (name changed), 31, mother of a two-month-old daughter had a troubled marriage. Her life changed after she found out about the foundation. “They directed in saving my marriage. Bharathi ma’am helped me come out of my possessiveness, made me accept my mistakes, and ended my fear and anxiety. I’m now reunited with my husband and live a happy life,” Gita says. 

In addition, Kala-Hrudaya (Art and Heart) is a suicide-prevention awareness campaign that uses theatre. 

The foundation has been recognised at the regional, state, national and international forums. 

“If youngsters are not nurtured well, it can be disastrous for the family, society and the country. We are happy to be associated with Sa-Mudra as it works consciously at the grass root with young people and leading them to love life. We hope Bharathi will extend her support to other parts of India as well,” says Raja R, deputy manager of a leading player in the automobile industry.

Way forward

So far, Sa-Mudra has positively
impacted over 1,40,000 youths and
parents. Bharathi Singh hopes to conduct workshops and seminars on confidence-building and coping skills, and also build more #LOVE-LIFE forums to support bereaved parents and families. To address the issue of addiction in girls, she hopes to build a girls-only, ‘home away from home’ rehabilitation centre, Harmony House.

Sa-Mudra subsists on paucity of funds and limited human resource.

It welcomes volunteers. To know more, visit: www.sa-mudra.org. 

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