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World Suicide Prevention Day: Suicide Rate Rising Among Young People; Ways To Protect Your Loved Ones

World Suicide Prevention Day 2021

World suicide prevention day is observed on September 10 every year to raise awareness about mental disorders and suicide. Unfortunately, the cases of suicide are increasing among youth and we need to address the problem before it's too late.

Written by Arushi Bidhuri |Updated : September 10, 2021 4:00 PM IST

While the pandemic brought forward mental health issues and their consequences more than ever, these psychological problems are still considered taboo in India. Did you know, India was declared as one of the most depressed countries in 2018-19? Even though India has come a long way but the country lags when it comes to addressing mental health problems. What people fail to understand is that mental health issues do not get better on their own. The longer you left these issues ignored, the more difficult it can become to treat and recover and may even induce suicidal thoughts.

During the Covid-19 pandemic and otherwise, cases of suicide have increased drastically in the world. To spread awareness and address the problem, World Suicide Prevention Day is observed every year on September 10. The aim is to extend a hand to someone who is struggling within before it's too late. The ongoing situation has upended many lives, causing anxiety, depression and whatnot. Sadly, mental health problems are increasing among young adults, leading to suicide.

Suicides Are Increasing At A Drastic Pace Among Youth

Reports suggest that the world loses at least one person in every 40 seconds to suicide. Dr Milan Balakrishnan Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist Masina Hospital says, "The scenario in India is extremely grim and Global Burden of Disease project shows that suicide rates for Indian men and women are 1.5 and 2 times of global suicide rate respectively."

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Further explaining the problem, Dr Balakrishnan highlighted, "Suicide is the number one cause of death between the ages of 15-39 years of age. For a problem that costs 2,35,000 lives, most of them young, we definitely are not doing enough. The reasons for this are that it is a complex and multi-factorial issue."

Recognize The Red Flags To Save Your Loved One

Young individuals frequently experience the ups and downs of adolescence and experience powerful emotions. However, for some young people, the downs might be so deep and extreme that they consider suicide. So, how do you know when to be concerned? Be alert and listen carefully to people close to you or around you and look for red flags. Here are some red flags that you should be aware of, according to the expert:

  • Anyone who talks about death in person or on social media
  • Threatening about self-harm
  • Suicide attempts
  • Being sad, anxious, angry, irritable
  • Disrupted sleeping patterns
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Giving away possessions
  • Saying things like "I wish I wasn't around" "Nobody needs me " or "The world would be better without me"
  • Chronic headaches
  • Pain in the body
  • No appetite
  • Loss of someone close
  • Underlying medical illness

What Can You Do To Help?

It can be upsetting to see someone you know say that they are thinking about suicide or say things that sound like they are thinking about these extreme measures. You may be unsure what to do to help, whether or not to take suicide discussion seriously, or whether or not your action will worsen the issue. The best option is always to take action. Dr Balakrishnan suggests the following ways to help someone who needs your help:

Talk To Them, Ask Questions

Asking about suicide does not increase the risk for suicide in fact it decreases it. If you doubt that someone is having suicidal thoughts, ask the question. If you find it hard to ask a direct question say, "I have been noticing that you are disturbed, are you unhappy?" There is a need to be alert and available for the person who needs help. Make sure you talk to the person alone and in a place where he/she is comfortable Allow the person to talk freely. Listen with full attention and don't jump to any judgement. Make sure you have plenty of time and are not in hurry.

Address The Risk Factors

According to experts, suicides are more common in men, but women are not immune to mental health problems. Elaborating on the risk factors of suicide, Dr Milan Balakrishnan shared, "unemployment, problems in married life, alcoholism, domestic violence, working in agriculture and mental illness are some of the common risk factors that could lead to suicides. This complexity leads to lack of clear-cut solutions and hence a lack of political will."

Seek Professional Help

After finding out if your loved one needs help, you should seek professional help before it's too late. Have resources available like contacts of a mental health professional (MHP) or the number of suicide helplines like NIMHANS 080-4611-0007 or KIRAN 1800-599-0019 Seek time from the person and ask the person if you can take him to the MHP or will they go with someone else? Take permission from them to connect to the family and guide the family. Seek a promise that he will not do any harm till help is sought.

Key Measures Official Authorities Should Take

Suicide is not a problem of an individual, but slowly becoming a paradigm of a failing society. The responsibility of addressing mental health issues not only lies in the hands of a person but also with the people who have the power to influence the population. Here are some measures suggested by Dr Balakrishnan:

Suicides Should Be Reported Carefully

Media also has a very important role in preventing suicide. They need to be very sensitive in their reporting. Suicide reporting especially when sensationalized like happens with celebrity suicides has a great impact on the community at large. So, the news of suicide should be done carefully, keeping in mind the impact it will have on society.

Government Intervention Is Important

Despite the enormity of the problem, there is no Suicide prevention policy for the country. Mental health professionals have been for many years trying to push the governments to work on a suicide prevention policy that has not borne fruits so far. Suicide is too important an issue to be left to mental health professionals alone. I call upon each one of you to take up the issue of suicide prevention and pledge to fight the stigma associated with suicide. Each of us can prevent suicide.

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