Updated: Nov 19, 2020
A Tweet in early September about Suicide prevention Day made me aware of the sensitivity of this issue. It took me in the past to the tragic event of one of my class fellows committing suicide at such a young age. We were all barely 16 and awaiting our junior high results. The grading was announced and most of us got good marks but some must be disappointed by the result. In reality, the expectations from kids at that age are much higher and at a time like that or sometimes if one failed, the label of being a slacker for the rest of the life is disgraceful. Unfortunately, a few couldn’t get out of it for the rest of their lives.
That’s exactly what happened to one of our unfortunate class-fellows. I remembered that he was a little older than average or maybe he looked like one. He was a tall, fair, and little overweight guy. The last time I have seen him was with one of my sports teachers. Before the final exam, we came to school to pick our documents, and I noticed him. He was standing against the staircase. He was arguing with one of our teachers about how confident he was about his grading. I remembered because he was loud, very near to shouting. The teacher seemed convinced too.
That was the last time I have ever seen him. Then suddenly this news spread like the wildfire among the whole school one week after that incident that he shot himself. Oh my God! The shock of that terror still makes my hair stand on their ends. While probing into the matter, few of the friends found out that his dad was a critique of him and could never stand his son bringing shame to him or the family by earning lower grades. Now see, what have that dad done, killed his son, and for what, stupid grades!
The news still haunts me, though my kid is in college now. I can hardly forget his face. He was so full of life, though, I barely knew him; but he was so young and healthy. He got a very smiling face.
As a routine, we read about suicides in the papers, and on social media. The news struck us all in very strange and shocking ways. At times, among the unfortunate, few are celebrities, but some are just regular people; who, for several reasons, end their lives.
What motivates them to take their own lives? Sometimes the signs are so hidden, even the loved ones can’t see. Other times the stigma attached to mental health and suicidal thoughts is so widespread that people don’t disclose; even when they are in desperate need of emotional support.
I was reading a report on the WHO site about mental health in child and adolescent worldwide 10-20% of children and adolescents are experiencing mental disorders. Half of all illnesses start by the age of 14 and three quarters in the mid-20s. If these mental disorders are left untreated, they may have severe effects on child development and life.
According to WHO Comprehensive mental health action plan 2013-2020 adopted by the 66th health assembly: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. The Plan also covers suicide prevention. The action plan is designed to work along with other global organizations and existing community’s health plans within the WHO, by not overwhelming those programmers; but by upgrading those.
As we are becoming more aware of these programs, the need of understanding mental disorders and well-being is becoming more rampant than before. People who are already coming in the vulnerable groups, like, schizophrenia bipolar, people with intellectual disabilities, Autism, LGBT communities, low-income groups, epilepsy, and substance abusers are particularly at higher risk of taking their lives against the challenges they are facing in their day to day lives.
Around 800,000 people die due to suicide every year globally. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15 and 19 years old. 79% of global suicides are among middle or low-income countries. Ingestion of poison, firearm, or hanging is the common cause of suicidal methods globally.
To prevent someone from taking his/her life, we all have to act responsibly and try to educate ourselves about the stigma attached to suicide.
Sometimes individuals don’t fall in the risk group, but the sudden loss of a job, break-ups, using some medicines, drugs, may put them at a higher risk of suicides.
In much of the world, suicide is stigmatized and condemned for religious or cultural reasons. In some countries, suicidal behavior is a criminal offense punishable by law. Suicide is therefore often a secretive act surrounded by taboo and may be unrecognized, misclassified, or deliberately hidden in official records of death.
The country at the top-list of suicides in the entire world is by a wide margin Greenland, after its last decade's modernizing transformation from remote colony to the welfare state, with a male-female ratio of 2.99. India of the South-East Asia region is the greatest contributor to the absolute number of suicide deaths. Europe is the most suicidal region in the world, while the Eastern Mediterranean is the least.
Japan too has the problem of higher suicide rates among its young population. Japanese are very well organized, disciplined, and skillful people; but mostly they are very introverted. In an article in “the Japan times” on the issues of suicides among the young, the woman, now 42, described her first failed suicidal attempt at 21. She couldn’t meet the ends and was steeling for food, though employed but overworked, overstressed; one day decided to take her life by taking poison.
People like her and others are now running certain organizations so they can help the most vulnerable persons. The country still ranked 7th among the world's suicidal countries list, and trying its best to bring the numbers down; and they are successful in doing most of the time, but still, a long way to go.
Most of the time the economic situations, layoffs, and bullying are the major causes of suicides in Japan, and the rest of the world too.
Besides young, the older populations are also at higher risk. During COVID 19, in Italy, one woman posted on Facebook that her 90 years old dad has taken his life, after being diagnosed with COVID 19, to protect her mother.
In India, the largest number of people taking their lives is mostly due to perpetual poverty. Recently, a well-known celebrity Sushant Singh Rajput, 34, committed suicide during COVID 19 lockdowns. He was famous for playing the role of former Indian national cricket team captain M. S Dhoni. Many celebrities, like Anupam Kher, (a well know Indian Actor), Sheker Kapoor (a well-known Indian film director), openly shown their shock and dismal on social media at this tragic and shocking demise. His death has shocked the film industry as well as the entire country. The debate for suicidal prevention is at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
The stresses of success as well as failures, sudden illness, prone to depression, certain medications, or the use of drugs, may contribute or compel someone to take his/her life.
That’s why a day is celebrated to spread awareness among all age groups over the world. In today’s life we are more connected but at the same time more overwhelmed and lonely than ever before.
We should not take the gift of life for granted. We must realize that saving a life is crucial and if we can do anything to prevent such tragedies then we must do whatever in our power and should leave no stone unturned. If we see someone, even on social media, showing a sign of distress, then we must act. People sometimes attribute this to hoaxes, but what if, in our judgment, we missed the right one!
It doesn’t cost to say something kind, listen to someone, and smile at someone. If our smiles can prevent suicide, then keep smiling!