Over 800,000 people die every year due to suicide across the world,
according to the report 'Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative' released by
the World Health Organization (WHO).
But the report notes that the real figure is likely to be higher due
to the stigma associated with suicide, lack of death procedures that are
reliable and legal or religious sanctions against suicide in some countries.
The theme for 2015 World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is 'Preventing Suicide:
Reaching Out and Saving Lives'. It is an initiative taken by the International
Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the WHO. Each year since 2003,
WSPD has been observed on 10 September, which serves as a call for action to
individuals and organizations to prevent suicide. And this year, the theme
encourages everyone to consider that offering support may play an important and
vital role in combating suicide. By showing care and concern to someone who may
be vulnerable suicide can change the way they look at life. Inquiring whether
that person is okay, listening to what he/she has to say in a non-judgmental
manner and letting them know that you care, can have a significant impact. The
risk of suicide
increases due to isolation
having strong social connections is helpful against suicide.
The Impact or Effect of Suicide on those Left
For families, friends and community members left behind, effects of suicide can
be devastating. A range of emotions like grief, anger, guilt, disbelief and
self-blame are experienced by those who are bereaved. These emotions, as
overwhelming as they may seem; make them so personal and private that it feels
difficult to share with anyone else. It is at this time, people should reach
out to those who have lost someone to suicide. People who are bereaved as a
result of suicide are often looked at differently than those who lose a loved
one through another cause of death, due to the social stigma surrounding it.
They may feel that they are being avoided by people who do not know how to
approach the subject or offer condolences. They may also feel that others do
not understand the intensity of their emotional response to the death of their
loved one. An opportunity or a chance to talk in their own time and on their
own terms can be precious for someone who has been bereaved by suicide.
Allowing those bereaved to express their full emotions can be relieving and aid
them in taking the first small step through their grief. Though support from
family and friends is essential, formal help is always needed for those who are
at risk of suicide and for the people who have lost someone to suicide.
Suicide in India
Of the 800,000 who commit suicide around the world every year,
135,000 (17%) are the residents of India, a country with 17.5% of world
population. The suicide rates increased from 7.9 to 10.3 per 100,000 between
1987 to 2007, with higher suicide rates in southern and eastern states of
India. The highest proportions of suicides in 2012 were from Tamil Nadu (12.5%
of all suicides), Maharashtra (11.9%) and West Bengal (11%). Of the large
population states in 2012, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have the highest suicide rates
per 100,000 people. The suicide ratio of male to female has been around 2:1.
The estimates of number of suicides vary in India. For instance, a study in
India projected 187,000 suicides in the country in 2010 but according to the
official data by the government 134,600 suicides in 2010 have been recorded.
According to the Government of India a
death is classified as suicide, if it meets the following 3 criteria:
- It is an unnatural death
- The intent to die originated within the person
- A reason for the person to terminate his or her life. The
reason may be specified in a suicide note or unspecified.
Even if one of these criteria is not met, the death may be termed or
classified as death because of illness, murder or another statistical category.
What are the Warning Signs for Suicide?
- Talking about
Suicide: If the person frequently talks about
suicide, dying or even self-harm, like "I would be better of dead.", "I
really wished that I was not born".
- Previous Attempts: In the past if a child or teenager has attempted suicide;
there is greater chance that they may try again later.
- Seeking out for
Lethal means: Trying to get access to pills,
guns, knives or other objects that can be used in a suicide attempt.
- Having no Hope for
the Future: Feeling hopeless, helpless and
being trapped. Believing that things will never get better.
- Self-Hatred or
Self-Loathing: Feeling guilty, shame,
worthless, like a burden. ("Everyone and everything will be better off
- Making Final
Arrangements: Like preparing a will or giving
prized possessions away. Arrangements for family members.
- Saying Goodbyes: Paying unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and
friends. Bidding goodbyes to people as if they will not see them again.
- Withdrawal from
Others: Moving away from friends and family.
Desire to be left alone and social isolation.
- Efforts to Hurt
Oneself: Uncontrolled or overuse of drugs and
alcohol, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking
unnecessary risks as if they have a death wish.
- Sudden Sense of
Calmness: A sudden sense of happiness and
calmness after being extremely depressed can imply that the person has
made a decision to commit suicide.
- Death and Suicidal
Themes: These might appear in the case of
children or teens in classroom drawings or homework or journals.
What can you do to Prevent Suicide?
- Reaching Out: Ask the person directly if they have thoughts about suicide.
Make sure it is a direct question that cannot be misinterpreted. For
instance "Are you thinking about suicide?" Most of them with thoughts of
suicide would want to talk about it. They will be interested in living and
would want someone to hear out their pain and offer them help to keep
safe. By inquiring about their well-being and thoughts on suicide, it
shows you care and they are not alone.
- Listen to them: Give them a chance to express their feelings, let them talk.
It creates a sense of relief if someone talks to them about their darkest
- Check for their
Safety: Do not leave them alone if you are
very worried. Remove any means of suicide such as weapons, drugs,
medications, alcohol and even access to a vehicle.
- Take Action
together and talk about steps that you can take to keep them safe. You may
be needing help from someone else to persuade this person to get help.
Also, you can help the person by finding out information on the available
resources and sources for someone who is considering suicide.
- Ask them for a
Promise: Ask them to
promise to reach out and tell someone. By asking a promise makes it more
likely that they will tell someone.
- Get Help: There are a lot of services and people who can help and
- Counselor, psychologist, social worker
- School Counselor
- Emergency Services
- Community Health Centers
- Crisis support services like helplines
- Obtain support from family and friends, youth group leader,