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; whereas having strong social connections is helpful against suicide.
The Impact or Effect of Suicide on those Left BehindFor 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 IndiaOf 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.
AdvertisementAccording 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.
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 without me").
- 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 thoughts.
- 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 Accordingly: Sit 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 provide assistance.
- 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, sports coach