EXCLUSIVE: World Suicide Prevention Day 2021: Experts cite reasons for increasing suicides

Updated on Sep 11, 2021 10:45 PM IST  |  62K
   
Experts list preventive measures to tackle suicidal thoughts

Sleepless nights, distorting thoughts and you are left changing sides on the bed at 2 in the midnight. As a result, you turn to your mobile phone only to scroll your news feed through the night. You end up staying awake all night and as a result, are left clearly out of focus and concentration the next day. 

This might resonate with many youngsters today. While most of the time it is because of our addiction to our devices, or just because we had a stressful day at work, there are chances that in some cases the reason is much deeper.

It is a no-brainer that stress, anxiety, and depression have become common these days. But with changing times, it is becoming hard to find out if a person is suffering from a mental illness. The reason being we have learned to hide our emotions. Often, the ones who are the most happy-go-lucky are suffering from the worst of the problems.

Pulkit Sharma, a clinical psychologist, says that it has become common for the youth to have a few sleepless nights, because of the day-to-day stress. However, if this happens frequently, one should definitely consult a doctor.

“Stress has become a part of our lifestyle. No internet during work from home, we get stressed. Having to ask our boss for a leave, we get stressed. There are so many minor reasons that make us stressed. However, this is temporary. It goes after sometime. But if your stress levels are always high, there is an immediate need that you get yourself checked for anxiety or depression,” says Sharma.

He adds that often mental health illnesses go undiagnosed because of people dismissing it as normal stress. “One needs to understand that no amount of stress is normal. It is just healthy and unhealthy stress. Healthy stress is something that is keeping you on your toes and you are finishing your work within the deadline. While unhealthy stress is something that keeps you away from work. You are out of focus and your concentration levels are always down. This is when you need help,” Sharma tells.

Most of the time, he says, people fail to address the issue and once it escalates, they end up giving up on their lives. The need of the hour is to sensitize masses about how to differentiate between stress and anxiety.

“Most people get depressed and they don’t even realize that they are. It is time, we talk about mental health on a much bigger platform and paint it in a good light. This is the only way we can prevent, or at least, reduce suicides. A life lost, which could have been probably saved, is the most humiliating thing to the entire humankind,” opines Sharma.

Dr. Jyoti Kapoor, Senior Consultant Psychiatry, Paras Hospital, Gurugram, while listing the primary risk factors for suicide, says that suicide is an outcome of a complex interaction between personal, social, and psychological factors. “Primary risk factors are statistically highly linked to suicidal behaviour like mental illness and addictive disorders. About 90 percent cases of completed suicide are associated with psychiatric disorders like mood and substance abuse disorders,” she tells.

The silver lining here, however, is that according to several studies, the number of suicides during the pandemic were low as compared to the pre-COVID time. Kapoor addresses the point and says that a completed suicide is dependent on not just a mental state that provokes suicidal ideation but also a physical state that permits it. 

“During COVID, while the stress due to the pandemic reached high levels, means to commit suicidal acts were possibly reduced due to most people being confined to their homes and common accessories like poisonous substances and firearms being unavailable. Still, we have got tragic news of suicide, due to isolation and stress during the pandemic,” Kapoor points out. 

According to World Health Organisation and National Crime Records Bureau data, Kapoor says, the youth in the age group of 15 to 39 years are more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts and acts of self-harm.

Dr. Preeti Singh, Senior Consultant, Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Paras Hospitals, agrees with Kapoor and says that according to her clinical experience, depression, suicidal ideation, self-harm behaviour has surely been significantly high, people have been hopeless and impulsivity has been on an all-time high, especially for the adult population between 35-50 years. “Reasons in the first and the second wave could be different but mental health issues have escalated like never before, globally. In fact, the second wave has been a lethal combination of financial losses and losses of lives of loved ones, making the suicidal ideation higher. However, fortunately, it didn’t get converted in the number of completed suicides,” says Singh.

The number of people needing consultation for anxiety due to COVID has almost doubled after the second wave, further adds Kapoor. 

Dr. Soumiya Mudgal, Consultant, Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Psychiatrist, Max Hospital, Gurugram, tells you that if you ever come across a person who is having suicidal thoughts or somebody approaches you with suicidal thoughts, stay calm and make the person feel comfortable. “Sit along with them, scold them a bit. Tell them that it is common for people to have these thoughts when things are not going their way, but that doesn’t mean that they will give up on something as precious as life. Explore why that person is having such thoughts, let them open up and discuss their problems. If it is an impulsive thought, which happens in response to an event or action, then you have to change your approach and deal with it a bit wisely. Counsel them, but don’t be preachy. Behave in an understanding manner. And if you think you are unable to handle the person, take them to an expert,” advises Mudgal.

Impulsive suicidal thoughts, Mudgal says, can occur when a person has lost a loved one or is suffering from a financial loss, among others. “While recurrent suicidal thoughts can happen due to something that you have been experiencing for long. In both the cases, it is important to talk to somebody, before taking any hard step,” explains Mudgal.

She adds that as per the current situation’s demand, prioritize mental health before the COVID needs. "Mental health is something which has now become a challenge and people of all age brackets are going through some form of mental illness attributing to declining socialisation and rising anxiety. Despite the fact that many enjoy their ‘home boundness’, but they do not find it comfortable for long, and thus there is a dire need to go out and socialize. This not necessarily signifies a visit to someone’s place but also can be done on calls or video chats. Though physical presence does make a better impact against anxiety, but keeping the mental health in tact by speaking with the loved ones are a better way as well. Also, bBreak the monotony, if you feel homebound or are tired of working from home," she advises.

Tips to deal with suicidal thoughts:

Talk to someone you trust and seek help

Avoid being alone

Think about the good things in life and look on the positive side

If you find nobody for help, get in touch with a mental health expert

Disclaimer: If you know someone who is having suicidal thoughts or is suffering from a serious mental illness, reach out to a nearby doctor, mental health expert, or an NGO for immediate help.

Read Also: EXCLUSIVE: Why is physical activity so important for health and well being? An expert opines


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