Suicide - A Community Tragedy
Suicides are one of the most tragic yet common causes of death worldwide. While suicide is often seen as a personal failure or weakness, every suicide is, in fact, a community failure. The stigma surrounding any emotional or mental weakness, help-seeking, and a societal lack of awareness about the warning signs of suicidality are responsible for the growing rates of suicide to a significant extent. Globally, suicide rates are higher for men than women. It would not be an overstatement to say that due to patriarchy and notions of toxic masculinity, the stigma associated with help-seeking behaviours in men or displaying any signs of emotional vulnerability contributes to this disturbing trend.
Warning Signs of Suicide
While it is a common belief that suicides are unexpected or sudden, the truth is that we can potentially prevent such tragedies by being aware, sensitive, and paying heed to certain warning signs. If you notice the following signs in a loved one (or even in yourself), please encourage them to seek professional help and support from family and friends.
- Frequent mentions of wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
- Feeling empty, hopeless, and lacking reasons to live
- Feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions
- Unbearable emotional or physical pain
- Frequent mentions or feelings of being a burden to others
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Giving away important possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
- Putting affairs in order, such as making a will
- Morbid and frequent thoughts about death
- Extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
- Making plans or looking for ways to die, such as searching for lethal methods online, stockpiling pills, or buying a gun
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Increased alcohol or drug abuse
- Anxious or agitated behaviour
- Change in eating or sleeping habits
Emergency Helplines and Portals
1. Government Mental Health Rehabilitation Helpline - KIRAN
It is a pan-India helpline started by the Government of India and is functional 24/7 - 18005990019
2. Vandrevala Foundation
Another pan-India helpline that is accessible 24/7 is by Vandrevala Foundation - 9999666555. Vandrevala Foundation also offers support through WhatsApp - +1(256)6662141
3. Fortis Hospital National Helpline
It is an all-India helpline that is available in different regional languages, 24/7 - +91 8376804102
4. Tata Institute of Social Sciences (School of Human Ecology) - iCall
It is a suicide prevention helpline by The Tata Institute of Social Sciences, functional for fixed slots from Monday to Saturday - 9152987821 (Mon-Sat: 10 am to 8 pm). Moreover, it is available in different languages.
How to Support A Loved One
While most of us understand by now that suicide is preventable through social and emotional support, knowing how to provide it is a different matter altogether. There is an understandable fear of saying and doing the wrong this, lest it makes things worse. But there are some simple and safe ways to let them know that you’re there for them and that they matter.
The simplest, most profound thing you can do for someone who might be struggling with suicidal thoughts or poor mental health, is to reach out to them. Just knowing that there is someone who cares enough and would be affected by their death can have a significant influence in helping the suicidal individual.
A major myth is that if someone is suicidal, encouraging them to talk about it can increase the chances of them actually attempting suicide. In reality, being able to talk about those deeply overwhelming thoughts without being judged can be quite cathartic. It might even make them realize that they don’t really want to die, after all. Rather, there are simply certain things that feel overwhelmingly out of their control.
Most importantly, do not panic. If your loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts, it’s natural for you to get overwhelmed too. But they require a support system at that moment more than ever. Instead of panicking, try to work with them to help them access the required support and help.
We hope these tips and helplines help if you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts. That said, suicidality is often a sensitive matter, and seeking professional support is strongly advised. If you’re looking for therapists and mental health professionals who can support you through this difficult time, Rocket Health’s affordable, convenient therapy services are here for you.