WHO theme 2019: Raising awareness against suicide

By Dr S V N Vijayendra

World Suicide Prevention Day is celebrated on September 10 every year. As our life is precious, we should not think of taking the extreme step. Every year, close to eight lakh people are prematurely dying through suicides. This includes students (RE, CT 10th Jan 2018), farmers (RE, CT 30th June 2015), professionals, businessmen, etc. Suicide is the second major cause of death in youth in the age group of 15-29.

India had the highest rate of student suicides in 2012 (RE, CT, 10th Jan 2018) and even students of higher learning are also choosing suicide to end their life (RE, CT, 12th Aug 2019). Unfortunately, nearly 79% of global suicides are being reported from low and middle-income countries. For every 40 seconds,  one person is suiciding at the global level.

Hence, this year the World Health Organisation has come out with “40 seconds of action” campaign to raise awareness on the scale of suicide around the world and the role that each of us can play to help prevent it. Hanging, jumping into water bodies like rivers, lakes, using flammable materials, like petrol kerosene, ingestion of pesticides and using firearms are the most common methods of suicide globally.

Suicide is a public health problem and people with low psychological strength attempt suicide (RE, CT, 19th Sep 2018). It affects families and society as well. There are several reasons for suicides. Depression, debts, not able to suffer from pain and certain diseases, sexual abuse, failing in exams, domestic violence are some of the reasons for suicides. The suicide of V G Siddhartha of Cafe Coffee Day and debt-ridden family of a software entrepreneur from Mysuru are examples in recent times that have sent shock waves to the general public. Though he did not have a right to kill his family members, a software engineer killed all his family members including parents by shooting with a pistol and also killed himself with the same pistol near Gundlupet in Chamarajanagar district.

In our country, a higher suicide rate is noticed in males than in females (RE, CT, 22nd July 2017). Suicides are preventable with simple interventions. Such people need support and counselling from family members and friends. School-based interventions for students, reducing access to the means of suicide, early identification, treatment and care of people with mental and substance use disorders (like electroconvulsive therapy, cognitive behavior treatment), chronic pain and acute emotional distress training of non-specialised health workers in the assessment and management of suicidal behavior and follow-up care for people who attempted suicide and provision of community support are some of the measures recommended by the WHO to reduce suicides.

As problems cannot be solved with suicides, people should think twice for a minute before attempting suicide and leaving agony in family members.


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