Suicide is rarely talked about. Society views it as something unmentionable and sinister. But ignoring the problem only makes it harder to find a solution and for those in despair to seek help. 17% of suicides worldwide occur in India. 1/3rd of suicides occur in adolescents and it remains the third leading cause of death between 15-24 years of age. We are losing a lot of young, vibrant lives to a preventable cause.
Anyone can experience suicidal thoughts during their lifetime. But certain groups are more vulnerable to the risk of suicide. A recent traumatic event, people suffering from mental illnesses or chronic painful illnesses, victims of abuse or experiencing the suicide of a close friend or family member increases the risk of suicide. Certain professions like police officers or healthcare workers, those with access to lethal means like firearms or drugs are also susceptible.
There are certain warning signs, which can signal suicidal thoughts or intent in a person. Talking or planning about suicide, even in a humorous manner, giving away prized possessions, mentioning being a burden, increased alcohol or drug use, a dramatic change in sleep, eating habits or personality are all signs of trouble are require additional scrutiny. If you suspect that someone you know maybe suicidal, the first step is to talk to the person. Assure them that you are there for them. Give a patient listening ear. Mentioning suicide to someone will not put the idea in the persons mind, chances are that the idea is already there. Help them seek out professional help and reassure them of your continued support.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, immediately confide in someone. This could be a parent, friend, teacher doctor or you can call a suicide hotline. Avoid being alone. The most dangerous company for you to keep is yourself. Remove dangerous objects from the environment. Avoid drinking or using any drugs. It may seem like an easy way to numb the pain but it can impair your judgment and make you commit acts you otherwise wouldn’t. If you feel the thoughts are overwhelming and you are unable to control yourself, have someone take you to the emergency care of a hospital. Don’t be embarrassed about this. Keeping you safe at that moment is what top priority is. Find a mental health professional that you trust for long term care.
Dr Yashashree Poudwal
Dept of Psychiatry
K J Somaiya Hospital