Building Bonds Of Hope For Suicide Prevention

Across the so-called modern education, better living, and bustling streets, a dark shadow looms. Behind the sounds of secular success and developmental riches, many hearts silently bear the weight of despair. The harsh reality that people are opting to give up their lives certainly makes us feel helpless and think, in hindsight, what we could have done to give them a ray of hope, a shoulder, a helping hand, or just an empathetic ear, to ascend them back and breathe peacefully. It is time we took a pause from our progress to the unknown and faced reality, talked openly, and attempted to weave a safety net of compassion for those teetering on the edge. 

Suicide is a tragic and complex issue that affects individuals and communities worldwide. In India, the high prevalence of suicide has become a matter of great concern.

By understanding the causes and implementing effective prevention measures, we can work towards reducing suicide rates and promoting mental well-being. It is crucial for the government, communities, healthcare providers, and individuals to come together and prioritize mental health, support those in need, and create a society that fosters hope, understanding, and resilience.

As we observe Suicide Prevention Day, let us shed light on the factors contributing to suicide in India and the steps that can be taken to prevent it.

Suicide rates in India are a pressing concern

Each suicide is a personal tragedy that prematurely takes the life of an individual and has a continuing ripple effect, affecting the lives of families, friends, and communities.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) every year, more than 1,00,000 people commit suicide in our country. A total of 1,64,033 suicides were reported in the country during 2021 showing an increase of 7.2% in comparison to 2020 and the rate of suicides has increased by 6.2% during 2021 over 2020.

Facts About Suicide

  • Most suicidal persons want to live but are unable to see alternatives to their problems.
  • Most suicidal persons give warnings of their intentions, but others are either unaware or do not know how to respond.
  • Talking about suicide does not cause someone to be suicidal.
  • Just because a person talks about suicide (expresses his/her feelings), does not mean he/she is no longer at risk for suicide.
  • Most suicide attempts are expressions of extreme distress, not harmless bids for attention.

What Are the Risk Factors for Suicide?

  • Depression and other mental disorders, or a substance-abuse disorder
  • Stressful life events, in combination with other risk factors such as depression
  • A prior suicide attempt.
  • Family history of mental disorder, substance abuse, or suicide
  • A history of family violence or abuse
  • Access to a firearm or other lethal means such as medications

What Are Some Warning Signs?

  • Deteriorating academic performance
  • Depression, dramatic mood changes
  • Hopelessness
  • Preoccupation with death
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Uncontrolled anger or rage

When Should Someone Seek Immediate Assistance?

When they are…

  • Threatening or talking about wanting to hurt or kill him/herself
  • Looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms or other means
  • Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide

How Can I Help Someone Who May be Suicidal?

  • Show interest and be supportive.
  • Be direct; ask them if they are considering suicide or have a plan.
  • Don’t be judgmental, give advice, or try to talk them out of suicide.
  • Don’t swear to secrecy.
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available.
  • Don’t leave the person alone.
  • Act, remove means, and assist them in getting the help they need.
  • Inform Residence Life and Housing staff if you live in a residence hall.
  • Consult with a counsellor as needed.

Why Is Suicide So Common Among Adolescents?

If we look at only students, according to NCRB’s 2020 data one student died by suicide in every 42 minutes, or 34 student deaths a day. Students accounted for 8 per cent of the total deaths by suicides during the year.

In India, academic abilities are a major factor driving adolescents towards suicide, however, research published in the Industrial Psychiatry Journal indicates that adolescents experience considerable stress in multiple areas irrespective of their academic ability and performance.

The study compared academically typically achieving adolescents with students having academic difficulty with stress and suicidal ideas. It suggests assessment and management of stress among adolescents must extend beyond academic difficulties.

According to Governor State University in Chicago’s Southland, “College is a period of major adjustment. For the first time, many students are living away from home, making it harder for them to get assistance from friends and family. In addition to having more freedom and autonomy, students are also under more stress due to a variety of factors, including increased academic responsibilities, adjusting to a new environment, and building new support networks. Additionally, the college offers the chance to experiment with alcohol and other substances, which can exacerbate mental health issues and raise the risk of suicide.”

Many kids have already experienced mental health issues or have received therapy. Suicide risk may be increased by environmental stressors in conjunction with a propensity for mental health issues, says the report put up by the University. The education system must impart self-confidence, determination, and courage.

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