By Dr Deepa Marina Rasquinha
Sep 10: World suicide prevention day is celebrated across the globe every year on September 10 since 2003 to raise awareness about suicide and its prevention. Suicide is among the three leading causes of death in the world. WHO estimates 1 million deaths due to suicide every year. It is predicted that by 2020, the rate of death will increase to one every 20 seconds.
This year, the theme for World Suicide Prevention Day is 'Working Together to Prevent Suicide' which was also the theme for the year 2019.
The prevention of suicide is a big challenge to society and the nation as well. With the multiple approaches and meaningful interventions, many lives can be saved. Preventing suicide requires interventions at the following levels.
At Individual Level
Every individual of the society must take responsibility to save the life of people committing suicide. Monitoring the behavioral tendency of the individual at high-risk is important. Simple techniques like trying to establish contact, allowing them to talk about themselves, and their feelings, helping them in the crisis and releasing them from their circle of thoughts, being with them and continue to interact, listen and offer support. It is also important that high-risk individual should be engaged in social and recreational activities such as meeting people, talking friends, watching TV. Continued help and support will enable them to overcome challenges in a positive way.
At Family Level
The role of family members is instrumental in understanding the problems, providing a favorable emotional climate, and molding a negative thought and obsession of high-risk individual. Every member of the family should know the feelings, emotions, and temperament of one another. As a family one should be alert to the maladjustments, warning signs, and abnormality occurring. Acting as a counselor and only by listening most of the issues can be solved and conflicts minimized. Special watch on elderly, terminally ill, mentally ill, and disabled is important. Also encouraging the person to seek professional help.
At Community Level
Communities, organizations, and agencies have an extremely important goal in developing preventive services, emergency services, aftercare service and preventive programs. Communities can have area wise helplines, tele-counselling, publicity on these helplines encourages people to seek services breaking the stigma attached, planning training programs for groups offering services, reducing access to convenient means of suicide (e.g. toxic substances, handguns), and also avoid naming places (e.g. Suicide point, suicide bridge). Organising local programs through local languages in schools, colleges, malls, industries, and hospitals can reduce the rate of suicide and promote healthy mental and social activities.
At Mass Media Level
Both print and electronic media have a profound impact on the lives of the people. Media can help in preventing suicide by reporting the accurate suicide statistics thus emphasizing that every suicidal death is a loss to society, not to highlight celebrity suicide, the impact of suicide on near and dear one should be realistically described, and publicity on helplines, trauma centers, and counseling centers.
At Teachers' Level
Teachers help young children build value systems thus setting acceptable individual aspirations and inculcating appropriate goal-setting mechanisms and reducing suicide. Several problems arise in the adolescent stage, a teacher can provide proper support help and adequate buffer mechanisms for handling this transformation effectively. Teachers can provide comfort and support in overcoming a child’s mental stress. Teachers should identify crisis children at an early stage and counseling services should be provided to them. It’s also important to have regular parent-teacher interaction for the development of a child's personality in totality.
At Spiritual Level
Spiritual leaders and faith healers occupy a special position in our societies owing to their stature, position, wisdom, and capabilities to influence people’s beliefs and values. If they play a positive role in identifying suicidal thoughts, behaviour, depressive states, and other emotional support to the people it will be a step in the right direction. These practices to visiting them have a greater impact on the mindset of the people and resolve conflicts in the families and community level.
A multidisciplinary team needs to work towards suicide prevention. Let us all know that the act of suicide as a ripple effect, pain, and sorrow among the loved ones. As quoted by Clark, “The person who completes suicide, dies once. Those left behind die a thousand deaths, trying to relive those terrible moments and understand … Why?”
Dr Deepa Marina Rasquinha is an assistant professor in department of Clinical Psychology at Manipal College of Health Profession (MCHP), Manipal Academy of Higher Education.