Suicide in India and ways to address it healthily

According to WHO, at the rate of 16.5 every 100,000 people, India has the largest number of suicides amongst south-east Asian countries. In the World Population Reviews’ list of countries with the highest number of suicides, India is at the 21st position with 2,20,481 suicides every year.

Although, as a society, we have continuously denied the existence of suicide and pushed it under the rug. However, when the rug became too small to hide the mess, we labelled it as cowardly and disgraceful. We have stigmatized mental health and suicide to such an extent, that it is now one of the reasons individuals find ending their life easier than talking about it.

With the current statistics, it is clear that there is a need to work on creating mass awareness on mental health, suicide and its ground reality. Read below to understand the reasons, recognize the symptoms and to be able to help a person in need.

Possible factors that can push a person towards suicide include:

  1. Depression

Depression is a medical condition that can be a result of traumatic life experiences and, or clinical imbalance. It creates a constant feeling of worthlessness, extreme sorrow or pain that can transcend into physical pain, loss of the ability to feel happy or hopeful.

Depression often leads to suicide. Therefore, it is only wise to not dismiss the possibility of a depressed person having suicidal thoughts.

  1. Psychosis

Psychosis is a mental health condition that disturbs a persons’ mental ability to differentiate between inner-thoughts or voices and reality. It can be caused due to other mental health problems, intake of drugs or medication.

Often in such condition, the inner voices dictate self-destructive and suicidal ideas.

  1. Gender and Sexuality

Gender and sexuality play an important role in defining the identity and hence the social, physical and mental safety of an individual.

Multiple reports have suggested that men and people from the LGBTQIA+ community have higher suicide rates. People from the LGBTQIA+ are exposed to hostility, rejection, denied safe spaces and support of any kind. While men are stereotyped to be more emotionally and mentally balanced than the other groups of people. In both scenarios, individuals become victims of isolation with little to no emotional and mental support.

Behaviours that indicate suicidal tendencies are:

Self-imposed Isolation

Constantly thinking and talking about death or specifically their death.

Looking for or buying lethal substances or items like guns.

A sudden change in their behaviour from extremely depressed to clam or indifference to everything.

Actively commenting on how much they hate themselves or how the world or peoples’ lives would be better without them.

Steps that allow you to effectively and sensitively help are:

  1. If you are worried about someone, voice your concern politely. Ask them how they have been feeling lately or what’s going on in their life. Ask them if you can help them in any capacity, and ensure them that you genuinely care and want to help.

Do not get into an argument with them, blame them or yourself or offer suggestions to fix them.

  1. As soon as your doubts are confirmed, act quickly. Often people who are sure about killing themselves have a plan in place. Try to understand the immediate danger they are in, what is their plan, do they have a decided time, place, means of taking their life, and if they have a clear intention.

  2. Proactively offer help and support in all means possible. Get professional help for them, follow-up with them time and again, positively influence them, join them in their daily activities and bring them along for activities they enjoy or have enjoyed in the past.

Make sure they don’t have easy access to objects that can be potentially used for harming themselves in any way, and put together a safety plan they can follow to reach out for help as or when they need immediate help.

Behaviours that indicate suicidal tendencies are:

Self-imposed Isolation

Constantly thinking and talking about death or specifically their death.

Looking for or buying lethal substances or items like guns.

A sudden change in their behaviour from extremely depressed to clam or indifference to everything.

Actively commenting on how much they hate themselves or how the world or peoples’ lives would be better without them.

Steps that allow you to effectively and sensitively help are:

  1. If you are worried about someone, voice your concern politely. Ask them how they have been feeling lately or what’s going on in their life. Ask them if you can help them in any capacity, and ensure them that you genuinely care and want to help.

    Do not get into an argument with them, blame them or yourself or offer suggestions to fix them.

  2. As soon as your doubts are confirmed, act quickly. Often people who are sure about killing themselves have a plan in place. Try to understand the immediate danger they are in, what is their plan, do they have a decided time, place, means of taking their life, and if they have a clear intention.

  3. Proactively offer help and support in all means possible. Get professional help for them, follow-up with them time and again, positively influence them, join them in their daily activities and bring them along for activities they enjoy or have enjoyed in the past.

    Make sure they don’t have easy access to objects that can be potentially used for harming themselves in any way, and put together a safety plan they can follow to reach out for help as or when they need immediate help.

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