World Health Day: It’s OK to talk about suicide
Recently, we have witnessed the horrific episode of an engineering student from Bengaluru, who jumped to his death from a hotel in Mumbai. Minutes before taking his life, the victim identified as Arjun Bharadwaj had streamed a Facebook Live video, which went viral on social media.
The police say the 24-year-old has left behind a couple of suicide notes too. The father of the deceased, who went to meet the student, a few days before he ended his life, said that his son was depressed.
Experts say youngsters like Arjun are most prone to commit suicide. According to the World Health Organisation, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds.
Suicide is a serious public health problem across the globe. However, suicides are definitely preventable with timely, evidence-based and often low-cost interventions, say experts.
On the occasion of the World Health Day, celebrated annually on April 7, let's try to look into issues pertaining to suicide like reasons, challenges and prevention, to name a few, to help people discourage taking the drastic step, as suicide is definitely not the solution.
Key facts about suicide as per the WHO
1. Close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year.
2. For every suicide there are many more people who attempt suicide every year. A prior suicide attempt is the single most important risk factor for suicide in the general population.
3. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds.
4. 78% of global suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries.
Ingestion of pesticide, hanging and firearms are among the most common methods of suicide globally.
Who are most vulnerable?
While the link between suicide and mental disorders (in particular, depression and alcohol use disorders) is well established in high-income countries, many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness, stated a report by the WHO.
Other reasons for suicides are experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, or loss and a sense of isolation are strongly associated with suicidal behaviour.
Prevention and control
According to the WHO, suicide is a complex issue and therefore suicide prevention efforts require coordination and collaboration among multiple sectors of society. As per the WHO adopting these measures could help restrict suicide cases--reducing access to the means of suicide (e.g. pesticides, firearms, certain medications), reporting by media in a responsible way, introducing alcohol policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol and early identification, treatment and care of people with mental and substance use disorders, chronic pain and acute emotional distress, to name a few.
Challenges and obstacles
There is a lot of stigma and taboo attached with suicide. Thus the WHO suggests raising community awareness and breaking down the taboo as important methods to make progress in preventing suicide.