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23 May 2019, Edition - 1409, Thursday

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Coimbatore

Suicide Awareness: ‘Someone is always listening’

Indrani Thakurata

Bengaluru: Karan Joseph, the well known pianist from Bangalore who jumped off his Mumbai high rise has been speculated to have taken his life due to emotional and physical stress. Investigations are on, and soon we will have more on the case. This made headlines because he was a known personality, but thousands die silently and the world doesn’t come to know of it. According to the National Crime Record Bureau report 1 lakh people commit suicide every year in India. India has one of the world’s highest suicide rates for youth aged below 30. In the last three years, stress & depression related reasons to commit suicide have marginally increased illustrating the dire need for intervention in this sphere.

Awareness campaigns are a few ways to discourage youngsters and adults from taking their lives. Hrithik Roshan and Karan Johar very recently gave their voice to the cause through tweets. The number of suicides are on the rise and we collectively need to work and give them a listening ear. “The causes for suicide could be many, but reason is hopelessness, narrow minded visions where is no solution for problems is seen, impulsive behaviour, etc. One major reason is lack of acceptance of mental health and its impact. People feel ashamed to visit a mental health professional. Aggression and other irrational behaviours are accepted in Indian society, saying this is how the person is. Thus creation of awareness is important,” says Namrata Dagia, Clinical Psychologist & Hypnotherapist.

Founder, The Illuminating Zone. Furthering the same line of thought, Dr Anupama Verma, Clinical Psychologist talks about the few reasons for suicides in India, “Domestic violence, relationship and family problems, financial reasons, academics, drug abuse and alcoholism and mental illness.” Most problems have an answer,but suicide is a complex problem that doesn’t have a simple solution. But we can always discourage people from doing so.

“A suicidal person may not ask for help, but that doesn’t mean that help isn’t wanted. People who take their lives don’t want to die- they just want to stop hurting. Simple steps can save a life,” says Dr Verma. She further adds, “It is important to Learn the warning signs. People with suicidal tendencies exhibit the following signs:They about killing themselves, having no reason to live, being a burden to others and feeling trapped etc, or there is an Increased use of alcohol or drug, acting recklessly, withdrawing from activities, isolating from family and friends, sleeping too much or too little, visiting or calling people to say goodbye, giving away prized possessions and severe mood swings.”

Very recently there was a campaign in facebook that encouraged people to invest time in just listening to your depressed friend. That is exactly what Dr Verma talks about. “It is important to ask questions. If you think someone might be suicidal, ask them directly ‘Are you thinking about suicide?’ Don’t be afraid to do this, it shows you care and will actually decrease the risk because it shows someone is willing to talk about it. Make sure you ask directly and unambiguously, Listen and stay with them, get appropriate medical help. Talk to or visit a psychologist immediately. Even if the danger is not immediate they may need longer term support for the issues that led to them feeling this way.” With many campaigns on social media against suicide one wonders if it is one of the demons we are trying to fight. “Yes it does. The media gives intense publicity to “Suicide Clusters” – a series of suicides that occur within a short period of time. These have a contagious effect especially when glamorized, provoking imitation suicides. This phenomenon has been observed in India on many occasions,” says Dr Verma. Though Dr Dagia is of the same opinion, but not entirely. “Yes , social media is one of the reasons but from my experience I would say that when people search for ways to commit, immediate helpline numbers are given by Google and also several online portals have definitely saved many lives.”

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