“India sees more than two lakh suicides each year, many of them by young adults aged 15 to 39 years, according to the Global Burden of Diseases Study 2016. Additionally, more women die as a result of suicide in India than men. WHO data also show that the rate of suicide in India is 16.3 per 100,000 or 2.2 lakh suicide deaths a year, this amounts to more than one-fourth of all deaths by suicide in the world.”
When I came across the above fact in an article from FirstPost, I knew that it was high time I wrote a post on the global health epidemic known as suicide. While the following tips can be applied to people of any nationality, they are tailored for Indians because India has a serious mental health crisis. It even happens to be the most depressed country in the world. For the uninitiated, depression is one of the leading causes of suicide. Other mental illnesses like anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can also result in suicide when left untreated.
Now many of us want the government to deal with this issue, and while it has taken a few steps like decriminalizing attempted suicide, it is clear that woke citizens need to be proactive and do their bit to reduce the burgeoning suicide rate in India. Here are three things we can do to prevent suicide:
1. Have uncomfortable conversations on mental illness and suicidal ideation
Like any other social stigma, the first step to eliminate it is to talk about it as much as possible. Go beyond the perfunctory “how are you?” in conversations and refuse to take “fine” for an answer. Fine is often code for “I am struggling and am not okay”. When speaking with friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers find out about the health and state of their mind by asking as many direct questions as possible. It is only when we have difficult conversations that will we be able to reduce the shame, stigma, and misconceptions associated with mental illness and suicide.
It is a common assumption that speaking about suicide with a suicidal person drives a person to act on it. On the contrary, it makes the suicidal individual feel seen and heard. I can personally vouch for how comforting it feels when someone cares enough to address the fact that I am not fine.
So feel free to have a word with your friend if you feel their anxiety is getting out of control and/or making them suicidal. Reach out and offer a helping hand to your surly neighbor; his surliness might just be a result of depression, and so on. The point I am trying to make is that we should all keep an eye on the mental health of the people in our lives.
2. Raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention
It may sound hard to believe, but even in the year 2019, many Indians think mental disorders are not real. Instead of treating them, they are judged and consequently, ignored. For example, a person who says they have depression is just lazy, which is why they don’t get much done at work. I believe that invalidation of one’s mental illness is not only painful, but it also increases the risk of suicide. Think about it: if you had cancer and people brusquely told you that there is no such thing as cancer, wouldn’t you feel alienated, guilty and invisible?
As a woke individual, it is your civic duty to inform everyone you can about the existence, potency, and fatality of mental health disorders. Merely informing is not enough, you have to convince them to change their minds. If you have no qualms about public speaking, you can conduct regular sessions in your society and workplace on identifying the signs of mental illness, learning positive coping mechanisms, and recognizing signs of suicidal behavior.
If public speaking is not your thing, you can always rely on online video courses. I highly recommend Udemy, a website that hosts thousands of diverse courses at super affordable rates. In fact, I myself am taking an in-depth bestselling course in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to learn how to tame my mind when it goes to dark places. You can sign up for the course too by clicking on the image below:
At the moment, the course costs just 820 INR, which means you get a whopping 94% discount (its full price is 12, 800). Imagine the number of lives you can save simply by learning some professional tools and techniques to optimize your mental health and curb suicidal thoughts.
3. Create reliable support systems
In a better world, each one of us would have access to mental healthcare and therapy. Sadly, India has very few trained professionals who are equipped to deal with mental health issues. In a cruel twist of fate, the small number of professionals we have are themselves struggling to cope with what is called therapist burnout. And let’s not forget that mental health services are private, expensive and not covered by any policy, thus rendering them inaccessible to the common Indian.
However, this does not mean all hope is lost. We can create digital and real-world support systems so that each member has someone to talk to at all times. As a member of several mental health groups on Facebook, I cannot express how helpful it is merely to know that you are not alone in your suffering. The support extends beyond listening; members share their experiences and lean on each other to get through particularly difficult days. Several people’s lives have been saved just by an empathetic person talking them out of suicide and helping them carry on despite all their issues. And of course, we all need to find at least one person who we can call at any time of the day for comfort and guidance and vice versa.
Whew! This post turned out way longer than I intended it to be! Nevertheless, I hope it inspired you in some way to be proactive and help people in pain, especially those who look perfectly normal and happy. As of now, knowledge and empathy are what we can use to improve our mental health and prevent suicide.
What do you think Indians, or people in general, should do to reduce the occurrence of suicide? Do share your views in the comments below.
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