WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY
With every 45 seconds that pass, one person dies of suicide anywhere in the world. The majority of suicide deaths worldwide occur in India. When a person kills himself, it is tragic for their family and other people who care about them. Every suicide death is a public health issue that has a significant effect on the people in the area. By spreading awareness, eradicating the stigma around it, and encouraging reasoned action, we can reduce the number of suicides worldwide.
Men and women over the age of 45 years are more likely to die due to suicide as a result of midlife crises. Similarly, the suicide rate is higher for people between the ages of 15 and 25 years of age. The sociodemographic correlates of suicide are marital status-being single, divorced, or widowed; unemployment; having a lower socioeconomic position; and having a psychiatric condition, such as schizophrenia, mood disorders, alcohol use disorders, anxiety disorders, or personality disorders. Various forms of social abuse, such as racism, sexual abuse, ragging, physical illness like malignancies, debilitating illness and disability, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, CNS disorders like Huntington’s disease, spinal cord injuries, epilepsy can lead to suicide. Hopelessness, unchecked rage, the desire for vengeance, acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities, feeling trapped as if there is no way out, increased alcohol or drug use, withdrawal from friends, family, and society, anxiety, agitation, difficulty falling asleep or sleeping all the time, and dramatic mood changes are some warning signs.
Numerous studies conducted over the past few years have revealed the existence of genetic factors and their involvement in relation to suicidal behaviours. These studies have also helped to focus future research on the growth and clinical manifestation of these behaviours. Parallel to this, research in the field of neurobiology has shown that some biological changes that are causally related to suicidal behaviour exists. Numerous family, twin, and adoption studies conducted over the past few decades have given researchers the proof they need to support the idea that genetic factors play a role in the transmission of suicidal behaviour. These studies have also made it possible to pinpoint specific clinical and behavioural traits that are linked to the transmission of suicidality within families.
We need to stop the causes at their source before we can stop suicides. Unfortunately, there are many instances where mental health issues go undiagnosed for a very long time. People frequently place blame on the individual's mentality, character, or behaviour and occasionally start to avoid them rather than addressing the issue and assisting the person to improve. Such blaming and ignorance eventually result in sadness, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and finally, suicidal attempts. Suicides can be avoided with the right precautions and treatment.
Family and friend support, cognitive flexibility, active coping mechanisms, healthy lifestyles, active social lives, a sense of well-being, high self-esteem, accessibility, and cost are some of the protective factors. Hope can be restored with a listening ear that is kind, empathic, and judgment-free. A disaster can be avoided with the help of empathy, compassion, real care, knowledge of resources, and a desire to lend a hand. To make success in preventing suicide, it is critical to increase public awareness and remove social stigmas. Communities are essential in the fight against suicide. They can battle stigma, engage in follow-up treatment, assist people who have lost loved ones to suicide, and offer social support to those who are in need.
As members of society, as children, as parents, as friends, as co-workers, or as people with lived experience, we can all contribute to helping those who are in a suicidal crisis or who have lost a loved one to suicide. Psychoeducation to raise awareness of suicide and suicide prevention, the active role of gatekeepers, and the ability of everyone in society to stop suicide attempts, as well as the importance of discovering someone's plans and thoughts, trying to help them, and persuading them to seek professional help, are all important factors in preventing suicide. We can all spread awareness of the problem, help those who are in need, and share our personal experiences. Through our actions, we may all spread hope and shine a light!
If you know someone who may be considering suicide, talk to them, listen with an open mind and offer your support.
(Dr.Jamuna Rajeswaran is Prof & Head, Clinical Neuropsychology and Cognitive Neuroscience Centre NIMHANS. Akhil R has Fellowship in Clinical Neuropsychology Nimhans)