By Ayushi Vig:
Suicide, like many other crises, is an issue many of us often find convenient to think of as something “other people” deal with. We like to think that we and the people we love are somehow safe from it, until we aren’t any more. After all, we are all “other people” to someone else.
Suicidal tendencies are caused by depression, and the majority of us will experience depression at some point in our lives. Suicidal tendencies, which affect people of all genders, ages, and backgrounds, are not as rare as we like to think, and neither is suicide. According to government statistics, over 100,000 people commit suicide every year in India. That’s an average of one person every five minutes. Over a third of these 100,000 are youth.
Clearly, suicide is not an issue anyone can afford to ignore. Yet, scarily enough, not enough of us know what we should do about it:
1. Severe depression can be quite identifiable. Common signs of severe depression include:
– An increased dependence on drugs and/or alcohol.
– Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed.
– Change in sleeping and eating patterns (sleeping too much/too little or inability to sleep through the night, eating too much/too little), and in weight (significant loss/gain).
– Isolation from friends and family.
– Mood swings.
– Difficulties with attention and concentration, and poor performance at work or school.
– Depression can often manifest itself as irritation in young adults as well.
– A recent, major life incident such as death of a loved one, unemployment, etc.
It is important to note, however, that severe depression is a relatively long-term predicament, and should not be confused with simply a hard week.
2. Although some attempts at suicide are undeniably impulsive, the majority are planned well in advance. Warning signs include:
– Giving away personal belongings.
– Not making plans for the short-term future.
– Taking care of affairs, such as by paying off debts or changing a will.
3. If you suspect that someone you know is considering suicide, talk to them about it directly. You will not be giving them any new ideas. Direct confrontation is the only way to deal with the issue.
4. Studies done by the US government have shown that more than 70% of individuals with suicidal tendencies mention their plans of suicide to a close friend or relative, often in an offhand, casual manner. If someone does bring up such an idea with you, take it seriously.
5. So what should you do? In short, you need to help them get the help they need. Statements like “you have so much to live for” and “suicide is selfish” are not helpful statements to someone who is considering ending his or her life. Do not judge them; instead, let them talk it out. Feel free to tell them that you may not be able to understand how they feel, but are there for them. Most importantly, enable them to get professional help right away. Contact a suicide hotline, or any mental health professional in your area.
6. Always remember that you are capable of helping.
The numbers for India’s suicide hotlines can be found at http://www.suicide.org/hotlines/international/india-suicide-hotlines.html
The pain of loss by suicide is often accompanied by the pain of regret. None of us want to look to the past and see the warning signs too late; none of us want an individual who deserves help to live a happy, healthy life to be unable to get it when we can give it to them. As human beings, it becomes our responsibility to help each other. So, stay alert, stay informed, and stay protective.