Stigma stumps war against suicides

Stigma stumps war against suicides
Every 40 seconds, one person commits suicide.

Thiruvananthapuram: It’s not a trend you would expect in a state with a high literacy rate like Kerala. But the state’s 24.6 per cent suicide rate is more than twice the national average of 11 per cent. Sadly, the fight to contain the trend is proving hard owing to the social stigma attached to those who attempt to take their own lives.

Dr. Siby Mathews, Chief Information Commissioner and retired IPS officer, who has authored a book on ‘Kerala on Suicide Point, a paradox of a high literacy state’ feels there are three reasons for the rise of suicides among Malayalis.

“Domestic quarrels, chronic illness which requires continuous medical care and financial liabilities are the major factors which push them to suicide. The current trend shows that those in the 30 to 45 age group who have more productive years ahead can’t tolerate the tension and this pushes them to the brink of suicide. These days a large number of senior citizens who don’t have any pension are being dumped before religious centres which is really disturbing,” he says.

The situation is clearly serious as going by the National Crime Records Bureau , for every successful suicide, there are about 20 failed attempts.

But preventing suicide is not easy owing to the stigma that stops people from seeking help.

While more and more people have been seeking professional help since the Suicide Prevention Clinic was opened at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College in 2005, the social stigma attached to seeking psychiatric help is so high that none of the outpatients are keen on being photographed.

Dr. Anju Mathew, Assistant Professor and Head of the Suicide Prevention Clinic, says the ‘One World Connected’ theme of the World Suicide Prevention Day which falls on September 10 is meant to emphasise the need for emotional connect at several levels to combat suicide.

“Reaching out to those who have become disconnected from their closed ones and offering them support, care and friendship can make a huge difference,” she explains.

Dr. Anju, who did her research in psycho social stresses and patterns of coping in adolescent suicide for her postgraduation, regularly visits schools and colleges with her team of doctors to reach out to students as young people are more prone to committing suicide than others.

Going by NCRB 34.4 per cent of poeple in the 15 to 29 age group attempt suicide.

Stigma stumps war against suicides

“This year the World Suicide Prevention Day is most significant because it marks the release of the WHO World Suicide Report, which talks of adopting the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 by the World Health Assembly, and commits all 194 member states to reducing their suicide rates by 10 per cent by 2020,” says Dr. Anju.

Dr. Margaret Chan, director general of WHO, says the World Suicide Report is a call for action to address a large public health problem which has been shrouded in taboo for far too long.

Many experts in the field hope this World Suicide Prevention Day will encourage organizations to coordinate their efforts and learn from each other, and also assist those who have been left bereaved by suicides to make themselves heard in discussions about suicide prevention.

The situation clearly calls for serious action as suicides not only rob young lives of a future but also leave their families and friends shattered and often have a major ripple effect on communities.

Stigma stumps war against suicides

In distress? please call counselling centres

* An Engineering student in Thiruvananthapuram fell in love with one of her classmates only to be ditched later on. Initially the girl didn’t disclose the breakup to her parents as she was an only child and didn’t want parents to be upset.

But she took an overdose of tablets and her parents rushed her to the emergency medical care of the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College hospital where she spent a week. She was brought to the psychiatry ward for counseling and was on treatment for four years.

The girl passed BE and is married now. Settled in Dubai, she has overcome her past and is doing well. According to Dr. Anju Mathew, the best thing to happen to this girl was that she could recover from the tragedy and is certain about her decisions and is bolder.

* An elderly man invested his savings in business only to lose everything. Ditched by wife and children, the man started drinking. He was on the verge of committing suicide when he sought professional help and is currently undergoing counseling at the Suicide Prevention Clinic at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College.

Doctors feel that geriatric depression is more dangerous than any other illness as that’s the time they require more compassion and care.

* If it was delusion disorder which was more rampant earlier, now the villain is ‘mobile phone’. With husband either in Gulf or elsewhere, chances of the wife falling for the charm of eve-teasers over the mobile are high.

With majority of such people becoming active on the social networking sites, either the husband or the wife gets caught in an extramarital affair. This shatters the family. With the lover ditching the woman, she will be forced to return home only to be shown the door by the husband and the family. This leads the woman to suicide.

There has been an increase of such people seeking counseling service at the Suicide Prevention Centre.

Source: Deccan Chronicle

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