Failure, stress, frustration and hopelessness are not reasons to take one’s own life.
Jeevan (name changed) was a 24-year-old engineering graduate with a brilliant academic record. With the big dream of joining the IAS, he left his small native town for Delhi to join a coaching centre. He stayed in a tiny rented room with other unknown aspirants under an extremely stressful environment with hectic schedules, mock tests, cut-throat competition and an uncertain future.
Since his childhood, he was an introvert with very few friends, short- tempered and less flexible about failures and his wishes and was quick to express his wish to die even with minor setbacks. Many untoward stressful life events early in life, such as the death of his father, triggered his insecurity about life. Following his failure in his very first attempt at the competitive exam, he committed suicide.
This is the representative story of many youth and my patients of depression whose youthful children or near ones had ended their lives.
October 10 was World Mental Health Day and this year’s theme is “suicide prevention” and promotion of mental health. The objective is to attract the attention of governments so that the issue might be given priority on public health agendas around the world.
According to the WHO, more than 8,00,000 people die by suicide every year, making it a principal cause of death among people in the 15 to 29 age group. In the past few decades, the numbers have reached alarming statistical levels. The prevention requires a multidimensional approach involving the government, health policy makers, educational institutes, coaching institutes, the conventional and social media, sociologists, NGOs, cyberlaw makers, the police, psychiatrists, psychologists, other specialty doctors, parents, friends and society at large.
Because of the stigma attached with suicide in people’s mind, getting the sufferers and their families talk about it has been a major issue. And this is the reason the public hardly knows the risk factors of suicide and ways to prevent it.
Who are at risk of suicide?
1)Those who have made previous suicide attempts, expressed a wish to die or showed self-harm behaviours.
2)Youth or children suffering from mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
3)Alcoholics or other drug abusers.
4)Those who have undergone sexual and physical abuse, bullying and cyberbullying.
5)Addiction to dangerous mobile games which involve violence, such as the blue whale challenge.
6)Long-standing pain or chronic illness.
7)Children of separated parents, parental death, broken families and foster homes.
8)Introversion, fewer friends, low frustration tolerance, apathetic or antisocial attitude and low flexibility or adjustability while setting goals.
Why can students preparing for any competitive exam become suicidal?
1)Most of them go to far-off cities and metros, where they meet thousands of new people of different cultural background and come across a competitive or a demotivating attitude from them.
2)They live in isolation, away from their families and support systems, feeling homesick.
3)The schedules are so hectic, they hardly find any time to share their feelings with others.
4)Most of the students stay in small, poorly ventilated rooms and spend most of their times in isolation inside the four walls.
5)There is no accountability or surveillance of such numerous paying guest rooms or rented rooms where the students spend most of their time.
6)There is no structured programme as most of the coaching institutes do not have counsellors or student-friendly teachers who can talk to the aspirants from time to time on a one-to-one basis.
7)There are no facilities in such coaching institutes for regular medical and psychiatric examination of the aspirants.
My suggestions for the parents and relatives:
1)Keep regular track of your ward who is staying away from you, through phone calls not just with your child but also with his/her roommates or friends. Make regular visits to them.
2)Whenever you make a call, try to make a video call to notice any changes in their appearance, emotions or behaviour.
3)If any previous attempts of suicide or self-harm was made, it is not advisable to send the child or youth away from family or support system.
4)If any warning signs are noticed, like voicing suicidal ideas, talking about death, showing no hope for the future, staying aloof, decreased communication, watching suicide videos or reading literature about self-harm on mobile or computer, remaining sad or depressed, showing extreme anger on self or others, gathering articles for self-harm like tablets, pesticides, rope, etc, take immediate action by sending immediate personal help to them till you reach out and take a psychiatrist’s help on an emergency basis.
5)Since childhood, identify suicidal behaviours if any and take timely psychiatric consultation.
6)Prepare your child for failures and setbacks and promote the spirit of living. Teach them it is okay to fail and that life is still beautiful with many other alternative positive activities to do.
Suggestions for the coaching and educational institutions:
1)Make arrangements for regular visits by psychiatrists or psychologists to talk to each aspirant personally.
2)If you notice any depressive or warning signs, inform the parents and arrange for psychiatric management.
3)Facilitate students groups, preferably including students who stay together or nearby hostels or PG rooms and encourage group discussions. This will help the introverts to make friends and to seek help whenever in need.
4)Regular stress-relieving, motivational lectures or workshops by mental health professionals to be arranged.
How can fellow aspirants help?
1)Keep track of your roommates, flatmates and friends.
2)Discuss regularly among yourselves how you feel and how you handle stress.
3)Make it a point to meet regularly, don’t stay in single, locked-up rooms.
4)Help given to others is helping yourself. It will definitely revert when you are in need.
5)Practise and encourage others to have regular health check-ups, a healthy diet, physical exercises (one-hour walk, jogging, cardio at gym or yoga every day, even during your exams) and enough sleep.
6)Note down contact numbers of parents and local guardians of your roommates or flatmates. Contact immediately in need.
7)Whenever you feel low, the person available to you immediately is your neighbouring aspirant. So develop a bond with them and talk to them.
8)It’s okay not to get through a particular exam. It was just not your day! It does not decide your success in life in future. Further attempts are still available. And an alternative career that suits you is eagerly waiting for you. Just embrace it!
9)So let us all come forward and save the young lives. Talking more about suicide will not promote suicide, instead it will reduce the suicide risk. Shun the stigma and work towards promoting a better life for ourselves as well as others. Remember , suicides are preventable!
Source: – The Hindu
By: – Soumya Naik