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Mental Health Day: Is your loved one at risk of suicide?

By Anna Chandy
Last updated on: October 10, 2018 10:01 IST
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Many factors lead to suicidal thoughts -- family issues, unemployment, financial troubles, mental health, drug addictions, pressures from school/college or work.
On World Mental Health Day, October 10, Anna Chandy lists the warning signs.

Mental health

Photograph: Kind courtesy Deepika Padukone/Instagram

In 2016, suicide was the cause of 230,314 deaths in India.

There has been a 17.3 per cent increase in the suicide rate between 2005 to 2015.

India has one of the highest suicide rates in the world with a large number of adult suicide deaths occurring between the ages of 15 to 29.

There are many factors that lead to suicidal thoughts such as family issues, unemployment, financial trouble, mental health, drug addictions, pressures from school or work.

Of all these factors, mental health problems are most likely to go unnoticed making them a silent threat.

Suffering with mental illness can take a huge toll on a person. And it is not easy to go through it alone.

Many who suffer with poor mental health face suicidal thoughts while trying to cope.

In India, we are still overcoming the stigma associated with getting help for mental illness.

Therefore, it is crucial to spread awareness and educate people on the benefits of getting treatment for these issues.

Providing people with proper facilities and resources to combat poor mental health can make a difference and save lives.

Below are some signs that people knowingly or unknowingly display while struggling with suicidal thoughts:

  • Withdrawal from family and peers
  • Loss of interest in previously engaging activities
  • Hopelessness, sadness or anger
  • Lower concentration levels
  • Lack of energy
  • Neglect in personal hygiene and appearance
  • Uncharacteristic risk taking or recklessness
  • Change in eating patterns -- weight gain or weight loss
  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Drug and alcohol use

Supporting a loved one during this time can be challenging because the situation is very delicate and must be handled with care.

Below are some suggestions on what you can do to help someone who is at risk of committing suicide:

  • If you are concerned about a loved one you should speak up and communicated these concerns with them.
  • You can start this conversation by saying: 'I am worried about you because you haven't been yourself lately' or 'I noticed that you have been distant or aloof, is everything okay?'
  • Try to be a source of support and understanding by allowing them to talk about their experience and emotional state without passing judgement or blaming them.
  • Reassure them that there are people that care for them and want to offer their support.
  • Remind them that there is hope for better days and that these feelings will pass with time.
  • It is important to educate yourself about the available options such as individual psychotherapy, meeting a psychiatrist or support groups and inform the person at risk.
  • If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, we urge you to kindly talk to a mental health professional.

Kindly note: Lead image has been published only for representational purposes.

Anna Chandy is chairperson, board of trustees, The Live Love Laugh Foundation.

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Anna Chandy