‘Working together for suicide prevention’

‘Working together for suicide prevention’
A play being enacted during ‘World suicide prevention day’ at Father’s House Church at 7th mile, Dimapur on September 10.


On World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10), a call for ‘decriminalizing’ suicide which might lead to openly seeking help, improvement in epidemiological data, better planning, and resource allocation


Morung Express News
Dimapur | September 10


Every year, close to 800,000 people,  roughly translating to one person per every 40 seconds, die due to suicide  and it was the leading cause of death among 15 to 29 years old annually, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). For each person committing suicide, there are another 20 who have attempted suicide.


This was reported by Serendip Guardians director Rini Ghose on ‘World Suicide Prevention Day’ at Father’s House Church at 7th mile in Dimapur on September 10.


The theme for this year’s “World suicide prevention day” was “Working together for suicide prevention”.
Suicide, Ghose explained was the act or instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally as well as a  combination of individual, relationship, community, and societal factors contribute to the risk of suicide which has become a growing concern. The occasion started in 2003 but gained popularity globally only by 2013-2014, she said.


Suicide attempt is considered as an offence under Section 309 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and decriminalisation under the Mental Healthcare Act (MHCA), 2017. According to the MHCA, 2017, a person who attempt suicide is presumed to have severe stress, which means it is triggered by mental illness and should not be criminalised.


It imposes on the government a duty to provide care, treatment, and rehabilitation of the person to ensure that there was no recurrence of attempt to suicide.


Decriminalisation might lead to openly seeking help, improvement in epidemiological data, better planning, and resource allocation.


Cultural taboos & suicide
Drawing attention on people’s perception with suicide, Ghose asserted that death was categorised into two-natural and unnatural, and suicide was categorised as the latter. And such death was not given due diligence while dehumanizing the dead as well as the family.


Response to suicide
Ghose said there is myth associated with suicide as she expounded that the first myth about suicide was “once someone is suicidal, he or she will always remain suicidal.” To this, she elucidated “heightened suicide risk was often short term and situation specific. While suicidal thoughts might return, they are not permanent and an individual with previously suicidal thoughts and attempts can go on to live a long life.”


The second myth she addressed was “talking about suicide is a bad idea and can be interpreted as encouragement.” However, the fact is “given the widespread stigma around suicide, most people contemplating suicide do not know whom to speak to. Rather than encouraging suicidal behaviours, talking openly can give an individual other option or the time to rethink his/her decision, thereby preventing suicide.”


On myth three where people perceive that “only people with mental disorders are suicidal,” she enlightened that suicidal behaviours indicate deep unhappiness but not necessarily mental disorders. Many people living with mental disorders are not affected by suicidal behaviours, and not all people who take their own lives have a mental disorder.


“The majority of the suicides have been preceded by warning signs whether verbal or behavioural. There is some suicide which occurs without warnings. But it is important to understand what the warning signs are and look out for them” clarified Ghose on the notion that most suicides happen suddenly without warning.


On the contrary, suicidal people are ambivalent about living or dying. Someone may act impulsively and die a few days later even though they would have loved to live on. Access to emotional support at the right time can prevent suicide she addressed while clarifying on the myth that someone who is suicidal is determined to die.


A person who talks about suicide does not mean to do it was a myth as people who talk about suicide might be reaching out for help or support, underlined Ghose, as she reported that a significant number of people contemplating suicide are experiencing anxiety, depression and hopelessness and may feel that there was no other option.


Risk factors
Depression, mental illness and substance abuse are a risk factor for suicide and mental or addictive disorders are associated with 90% of suicides. 60% of those who complete suicide suffer from depression, reported Ghose.
Even lack of parental support and alienation from and within the family, youth growing up without making meaningful connections with adults, school environment, and previous attempts are at risk.

A cultural factor where suicide may be seen as a rational response to shame was another risky factor.