UNDERSTANDING SUICIDALITY on World Mental Health Week 2020

With the advent of science, there has been a growing experience of distress amidst humans.

A lot of us struggle to cope with life’s challenges in our own ways and few of us succeed in maintaining survival mode.

However, some of us unfortunately fail to address our psychological concerns and succumb to them. The second week of October is observed as World Mental Health week globally every year. In view of the same, this article intends to spread awareness about suicide as a significant entity depicting mental trauma.

As per Dr. S.G Mehta Prof and head

Department of Psychiatry Pacific Medical College and Hospital, Udaipur suicide a permanent solution to a temporary problem. When pushed to extremes, the feelings of self-directed anger, frustration, emotional pain, hopelessness or agitation can compel a person to take his/ her own life. Within the past year in India, about 41,000 individuals died by suicide, 13 lac have attempted suicide, 27 lac have had a plan and 93 lac have had suicidal thoughts. Everyone has the potential for suicide irrespective of age, gender, education, occupation, relationship status, success, wealth or popularity.

Dr.Mehta said that a common notion that ‘talking about suicide encourages suicidal behavior’ is a myth. Talking about suicide provides an opportunity for meaningful communication and consequent resolution of fears or anxieties.

Asking someone if they’re suicidal makes them feel heard. Some of us may incorrectly feel that ‘youngsters who talk repeatedly about suicide never really attempt it’. Talking about suicide can simply be a cry for help. Subtle cues of suicidal ideation can be recent suicide by a loved one, previous attempt for suicide, preoccupation with death themes or isolation from friends. It is a misconception that once a person has intent of suicide, there is no way of stopping them. Suicides can be prevented. Immediate practical help during the short-lived crises by way of emotional support and encouragement can be valuable, Dr. Mehta added.

He further said that suicidal ideation in men is often missed. The social norms and stereotypes which negatively affect women have the same affect on men too. But psychological distress in men is rarely addressed. They are socialized into being ‘strong’ and to not cry or seek help when in distress. While suicide attempts are more common in women, completed suicides are more seen in men. Hence, there is a great need for a ‘gender sensitive’ society responsive to the needs of everyone.

Talking on the occasion Asst.Proffesor. Dr.Bhakti Murkey Sisodia Department of Psychiatry  Pacific Medical College and Hospital, Udaipur told that while genetics have an influence on an individual’s mental health, environmental influences can also contribute to suicidality through traumatic encounters in early life such as bullying, violence, abandonment, abuse or loss of a loved one.

Presence of a physical or mental health disorder is a discrete risk factor for potentiating suicide, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder or psychoactive substance use. Stressors like academic pressures or exam failure in students, disturbed family dynamics or high expressed emotions in adults, or chronic medical problems and pains or poor planning for retirement period in the old age population can also precipitate suicidal ideation. Other risk factors can be poor job security, family history of suicide, break-ups, access to toxic substances or firearms and lack of a support system.

If a person talks casually about killing themselves, or feels hopeless or like a burden or feels trapped, it may be a warning sign. Such people may search for methods to end life, isolate self, call people to say goodbye, give away prized possessions or make a will. On the contrary, some protective factors for diminishing suicidal tendency are effective care for physical and mental health, being connected with loved ones, adaptive coping and life skills, high self esteem, having a purpose in life, and religious beliefs which discourage suicide.

Treating mental health disorders is vital in preventing suicidal behaviors. Taking help of medication or counseling has been proven to reduce symptoms of the mind. Providing an outlet to emotions through heartfelt conversations, daily relaxation and recreational activities such as music, sports, fitness regimes or yoga also help to maintain emotional well-being. If suicide-free society is the goal, then suicide prevention strategy is must in public health. Reducing social isolation, preventing social disintegration and treating psychiatric disorders are fundamental to achieving this objective. From here onwards, it is up to the joint efforts of mental health professionals, policy planners and the Government authorities to have wider implications of this noble idea, Dr. Bhakti added.

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