Suicide Prevention – How can you help? #WorldMentalHealthDay

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World Mental Health Day, 2019

Every year, ‘World Mental Health Day’ is observed on October 10 as decided by World Health Organization (WHO). This year, WHO has chosen Suicide Prevention as the major focus area for World Mental Health Day. I encourage you all to raise awareness about the topic and recognize the role that each one of us can play to prevent it.  Let us look at it in detail –

Death. Decease. Expire. Demise.

We may be filled with sadness when we hear these words but passage from life to death is an inevitable part of being human and thus we come to accept it over time. The means by which a person dies on the other hand can stir up varying degrees of emotions within us.

Old Age? Accident? Untimely? SUICIDE?

When a person dies by suicide (taking their own life), an almost instinctive feeling it hits us with as a society is that of shame and stigma. We grapple between feeling sorry for the person, the family that survived them and question everything they did thus far in their life. We are sad yet curious. We offer condolences yet lack compassion.  

Why the need to bother?

The numbers are alarming. As estimated by World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 800000 people die due to suicide every year around the globe. These numbers are enough to jolt us into taking notice of this growing epidemic. 1 person dies by suicide every 40 seconds. Let that sink in!

Our national statistics are also worrying. India accounts for over one third of the world’s female suicides annually and close to one fourth of male suicides (Lancet, 2018). 

Suicide statistics – TOI

Who is at risk?

Contrary to a popular myth, not all those who die by suicide have a mental illness. Mental illness is only one of the risk factors of suicide. Suicide is a complex, multi-layered concern and a combination of individual, relational, and societal factors contribute to the risks. Some common risk factors include: family history of suicide, history of mental disorders (especially clinical depression), history of substance abuse, physical illness, trauma, and loss (relational or financial) among others.

The tipping point

We may not understand everything about suicide, but we know for certain that there are three important factors that contribute to the final act.

Worthlessness. “My life has no meaning. It is not worth living.”

Hopelessness. “What is the point of carrying on? Every time I feel better something or the other bogs me down.”

Loneliness. “Nobody understands me. Will anyone even care if I die?”

The person is often faced with the dichotomy of willing to live but also desperately wanting to end the pain they are experiencing. They are drained of all their resources to cope with the spiraling emotions.

Signs to look out for

Individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts have mastered the art of masking their pain because of the stigma and shame attached with the topic. Common warning signs to look out for:

Uncharacteristic changes in mood, excessive sadness

Withdrawal from social activities

Poor self-care

Recent trauma or crisis

Self-harming behavior

Pre-occupation with death

Giving away personal possessions

How you can help

If you notice any warning signs of suicide, approach your loved one and offer support. Talking about suicide with them will NOT encourage them to do it, in fact, it will assure them that there is someone who cares about them enough to notice the pain they are going through.

Helpful statements: I have noticed XYZ, would you like to share what you are going through? Let’s talk about it. How can I help you feel better?

If a loved one has mustered the courage and shared that they are feeling suicidal with you then don’t panic or dismiss them. Thank them for trusting you and assure confidentiality. Hear them out patiently without offering advice or passing judgements.

Helpful statements: I’m sorry that you are going through this and happy to know that you could share this with me. Thank you for trusting me.

Unhelpful statements: What is wrong with you? How can you be so stupid? Have you not thought about what your family will go through? People face worse problems than this, be strong. Just have a drink, you’ll be fine.

Get Professional Help

Despite best intentions, there is only a certain amount one can do to help a loved one when they are suicidal. While being there for them unconditionally is invaluable and irreplaceable, it is important that you seek professional help (from a psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, or counselor). If your loved one had a fracture you would take them to a doctor, right? This is no different.

Accountability

As a society, we need to take more accountability for our collective mental well-being. Make more time for real-time emotional contact. It’s easy to hide the warning signs behind the screen.

This is a guest post written by

Priyanka Bajaria is a Psychologist, Arts-based Therapy Practitioner, and Sex Educator. She has completed her Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Maniben Nanavati Women’s College, Mumbai and has experience working in the mental health care field with a diverse range of populations. She is the founder of Advaita an initiative to provide quality services for mental health care and honor the uniqueness of every individual.

Post Author: Neha Tambe

Neha Tambe is a freelance social media marketer, writer and influencer. I studied mass communication and worked in various capacities spanning from journalism, copywriting to social media marketing. Blogging from the past 4 years. Founder and Owner of nehatambe.com.

29 thoughts on “Suicide Prevention – How can you help? #WorldMentalHealthDay

    Ruchi Verma

    (October 10, 2019 - 3:40 pm)

    Neha I just loved the post … It’s really important to open up if you are going through something or if you feel someone who changed his/her behavior give them ears to listen and we can really avoid such unwanted events!!

      Neha Tambe

      (October 14, 2019 - 12:43 pm)

      Very true Ruchie, just being there is important too

    Salma Shajahan

    (October 11, 2019 - 7:41 am)

    A neat information on how to help the needy. I liked the way you have penned it down

      Neha Tambe

      (October 14, 2019 - 12:42 pm)

      Thanks, Salma, it was a guest post by a psychologist.

    Gurjeet Chhabra

    (October 11, 2019 - 8:52 pm)

    This happen in my family and know how bad it can be. So talk and help each other

      Neha Tambe

      (October 14, 2019 - 12:41 pm)

      Hope you found the tips helpful

    Snehalata Jain

    (October 12, 2019 - 5:34 am)

    Totally agree that real time interaction with people is must for the mental well being and to know each others mental status.Today in this digital world ,our real emotions doesn’t come out and that leads to psychological disorders.Very informative post.

      Neha Tambe

      (October 14, 2019 - 12:41 pm)

      thanks for dropping by

    Neha Sharma

    (October 12, 2019 - 11:01 am)

    This is such a strong and helpful post and I am sure it will help people understand a little more about the mental health and how to deal with such situations which involve suicidal thoughts.

      Neha Tambe

      (October 14, 2019 - 12:40 pm)

      thanks for reading

    Deepika

    (October 12, 2019 - 8:08 pm)

    Very informative post for those who are suffering from any kind of mental issues and for those also who need to understand how to deal with the people who are suffering from the disorder.

      Neha Tambe

      (October 14, 2019 - 12:38 pm)

      thanks for reading

    Jhilmil D Saha

    (October 12, 2019 - 10:33 pm)

    Depression is the cause of most suicide and this depression can be the outcome of varied situations. Its good that we have these helplines now to seek for imnediate assistance.

      Neha Tambe

      (October 14, 2019 - 12:37 pm)

      True, its time to sensitize

    Judy Morris

    (October 13, 2019 - 1:02 am)

    Yes mental health is a very important subject that we need to discuss more openly. Suicide is one of the ill effects of mental deterioration but the number is alarming!

      Neha Tambe

      (October 14, 2019 - 12:37 pm)

      Thanks for reading

    Varsh

    (October 13, 2019 - 7:11 am)

    The staggering stats are proof that reaching out or seeking professional help is lot more easier than losing a life. Suicide can be prevented with proper counselling and guidance.

      Neha Tambe

      (October 14, 2019 - 12:36 pm)

      Thanks for reading Varsha

    Roma

    (October 13, 2019 - 7:35 am)

    Found the article very informative Neha and I have a lot of take homes from it

      Neha Tambe

      (October 14, 2019 - 12:34 pm)

      Glad you found it useful

    Tina Basu

    (October 13, 2019 - 9:31 am)

    talking to others, taking professional help is going to help people feeling suicidal. Its important that we realise mental healt, suicidal feelings are clinical and important.

      Neha Tambe

      (October 14, 2019 - 12:34 pm)

      Thanks for reading

    Gunjan

    (October 13, 2019 - 11:14 am)

    Suicide is something which is very unfortunate. And somewhere I feel we as a society are the culprits to put so much pressure on everyone. Great post

      Neha Tambe

      (October 14, 2019 - 12:32 pm)

      Thanks for reading Gunjan

    Amrit Kaur

    (October 13, 2019 - 11:22 am)

    It is high time that we all should spread awareness on sucide prevention and help people around us.

      Neha Tambe

      (October 14, 2019 - 12:32 pm)

      Very true Amrit

    Aishwarya Sandeep

    (October 13, 2019 - 11:48 am)

    It is high time we talk about it than victim shaming and blaming

      Neha Tambe

      (October 14, 2019 - 12:32 pm)

      True that Aishwarya

    Surbhi Mahobia

    (October 15, 2019 - 1:28 pm)

    The mental health issues and addressing then through medical intervention shouldn’t be taboo anymore. It’s high time that the seekers should come out openly to ask for help.

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