India’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recently released the 2019 report on Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India. The report shows that 139,123 people died by suicide through the year. If you work out the maths, a person died by suicide roughly every four minutes in 2019. These numbers are deeply distressing. Suicide is a truly final step that many individuals feel they are forced to take. Mental health issues, debts, unemployment and more can push people to the brink. As the numbers clearly show, we need bodies such as the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP). Every year, IASP observes September 10th as World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD).
This year, WSPD is especially important. The coronavirus pandemic has turned our lives upside down and many people have lost loved ones, employment and even their homes due to the virus. This year, let us do our part and commemorate WSPD by following a few easy steps:
1. Check your vocabulary
Very often, we hear people say that somebody committed suicide. This puts the blame on the individual who is no longer around to defend their actions. Most people who think about suicide truly believe they have no other option. Many suffer from mental health issues that can spiral out of control. Instead of assigning blame, we can honour their memory by saying they died by suicide.
2. Check on a loved one
Sometimes all you have to do is pick up the phone to check on your friends and family members. They may be struggling through something silently. Make the time to call and speak to them. Ask them how they’re feeling and listen to what they have to say. If they tell you they’re feeling sad or upset, don’t try to make them feel better. Just let them know that you’ve heard what they’re saying. If you think a loved one needs professional help, urge them to visit a psychologist or a psychiatrist.
3. Pay attention
Mental health issues are difficult to deal with because they are not visible. If somebody has a broken hand or even a cold or cough, we can see they are suffering. Mental illnesses do not have visible symptoms. We cannot see if somebody is suffering from depression or anxiety. But we can pay attention to their behaviour. Mental health issues often cause changes in behaviour. An outgoing individual may start to withdraw from their social life. If you notice such a change in a loved one’s behaviour, it could be a sign that they are going through something. Make sure you take care of this individual and check on them regularly.
4. Let people know that you care about them
Many individuals who die by suicide feel that the world is better off without them. They falsely believe that nobody will miss them. If you care about somebody, don’t hesitate to tell them. Let them know just how much they mean to you. Send your family members and friends messages to let them know that you think about them. Thank them for the positive impact they have on your life. These small gestures could help people feel loved and important.
India has a chronic suicide issue that cannot be solved in one day. But, if we all take the time to check on our loved ones, we could help save a few people. This World Suicide Prevention Day, let us make a positive change by having conversations with those we love and letting them know that we care.
If you or somebody you know is having suicidal thoughts, you can get help by calling the iCall helpline on +91 91529 87821. They are available from Monday to Saturday from 10 AM to 8 PM. They offer help in 8 languages, including Hindi and English. You can also visit the Aasra website which has a list of helpline numbers for each state, along with the timings during which they function. Remember, asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.