Let’s talk about suicide prevention

Dr Raminder Jit Singh

“Suicide is not a blot on anyone’s name; it is a tragedy.”
– Kay Redfield Jamison.
Suicide is can be defined as the intentional destruction of oneself by a human being. Suicide is one of the major Public health problems across the World. According to World Health Organization (W.H.O) approximately 800,000 people die by suicide worldwide every year, of these 135,000 (17%) are residents of India, a nation with 17.5% of world population. According to the Report most suicides in the world occur in the South-East Asia Region (39 per cent of those in low- and middle-income countries in South-East Asia alone) with India accounting for the highest estimated number of suicides. Reports of suicides are a routine feature in major newspapers in India.
According to the report on statistics available on the ‘Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India’ published by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) of Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India, in the year 2015, 1,33,623 in the country lost their lives by committing suicide. The number of suicides in the country during the decade (2005-2015) have recorded an increase of 17.3% (1,33,623 in 2015 from 1,13,914 in 2005).
Majority of suicides were reported in Maharashtra (16,970) followed by 15,777 suicides in Tamil Nadu and 14,602 suicides in West Bengal, accounting for 12.7%, 11.8% and 10.9% of total suicides respectively. Karnataka (10,786 suicides) and Madhya Pradesh (10,293 suicides) accounted for 8.1% and 7.7% of the total suicides reported in the country respectively. These 5 States together accounted for 51.2% of the total suicides reported in the country. The remaining 48.8% suicides were reported in the remaining 24 States and 7 UTs. Family Problems, Illness, Marriage Related Issues, Drug Abuse/Alcoholic Addiction and Failure in Examination and Unemployment are some of the major reasons behind suicides in India. It is estimated that one in 60 persons in our country is affected by suicide; it includes both, those who have attempted suicide and those who have been affected by the suicide of a close family or friend.
Prevention of Suicides: Suicide Prevention is a term used for the collective efforts to reduce the incidents of suicides through preventive measures. To prevent suicides requires a collective, concerted effort from all groups in the society. Education seeks to decrease the incidents of suicidal behaviours and depression. Educational programmes for Health Care Givers, Police, Welfare workers who are likely to come in contact with people who are at risk of taking this extreme step of suicide. Such a group can be trained to deal with such problems. Special awareness programmes can be organized for high risk population especially the students, professionals, security personnel working in conflict zones and victims of domestic violence who succumb to depression and suicide. Efforts to contact these groups and provide counseling, socialization, vocational and recreational programmes, up to large extent can reduce number of depressions and suicides. Educational programmes that increase vocational skills can help the individual to develop concept of self-reliance which consequently decreases feeling of powerlessness and helplessness. In Educational Institutions, the counseling staff should be trained to recognize the students with early symptoms of depression. The students who exhibit such signs should be properly counseled or referred to mental health professionals.
Another effective way to counter suicides is education about religion and culture. Faith in God and one’s own culture helps in providing strength to the individual. Almost all religions through their teachings oppose suicide and suicidal thoughts.
Religious discourses can help in negating suicidal tendencies in an individual. The Religious Centers in cities and towns should have some trained religious personnel with whom the people can discuss their problems and off load their issues.
The diminishing traditional family support systems leave people vulnerable to suicidal behavior. A person with suicidal tendency needs someone in whom he could confide and off-load some of his apprehensions and problems. If he finds someone who listens to him, his suicidal tendencies diminish to large extent, hence there is an emerging need for external emotional support. The enormity of the problem combined with the paucity of mental health service has led to the emergence of NGOs in the field of suicide prevention. The NGO’s can work for long time on specific, focused and end-oriented programmes to eradicate the problem of suicides in consultation and coordination with civil society, police and health care givers.
World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), on 10 September, is organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP). WHO has been co-sponsor of the day. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented. ‘Working Together to Prevent Suicide’ is the theme of the 2019 World Suicide Prevention Day.
To prevent suicides all professionals and status groups in the society, especially doctors, lawyers, academicians, journalists, bureaucrats, teachers, scientists, politicians, resear-chers, intellectuals and others need to work consciously and with commitment against the problems of tendencies and committing of suicides.
Last, but not the least there seems basic and urgent need for the citizens to keep social vigil on the attempts of suicides and give rise to positive views about life and society.
Kathnai Aan Pade Tau Gabraney Se Kya Hoga,
Jeenay Ke Tarkeeb Nikalo, Marr Jaaney Se Kya Hoga !!
(The author is the Founder & Director of Registered Suicide Prevention Organization THE – SARA)