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Let's not talk for 4 days and then forget

Something happened on the 14th of June that shocked the Bollywood community and millions of fans. A very popular personality died by suicide. While a lot of people are mourning the death, there are some who are raising the concern regarding the root cause for suicide. Imagine the struggle that common people would be facing if a celebrity, who seemed to have everything to live for, probably didn't feel that way. On having a lot of discussions throughout the day, I heard this one line from all the people: 'People will talk about it for 4 days and then forget.' This made me sad. An issue like this should not be something that is forgotten. It is high time we start a fight against mental illnesses and break the social stigma around getting psychological help.

1. The mental health stigma:

I am sure a lot of you might have heard people saying words like 'nuts', 'psycho', 'freak', 'crazy' and 'mad'.There is actually a huge list of such words and one such list of these words has been compiled in a report given below in the link.

Social stigma is defined as the disapproval of, or discrimination against, a person based on perceivable social characteristics that serve to distinguish them from other members of society. If you carefully read this paper, it will tell you that these words have been commonly used by 14-year old school kids to refer to mental illnesses. This starts from the roots. By using those words as derogatory remarks, it creates a stigma and that is the reason why we never out ourselves with the psychological problems that we have. And get this, according to WHO, 'One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. Treatments are available, but nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental disorder never seek help from a health professional.'


2. Understanding suicidal tendencies:

Suicide can be a surprise to loved ones. But often, suicidal people give little warning signs beforehand to friends and family that they are feeling unwell.

  • Take it very seriously if someone frequently talks about death or mentions suicide. Statements can be direct like “I’m thinking about killing myself” but frequently are more subtle like "Things are never going to get better”

  • Being sad occasionally or due to specific circumstances is normal. Yet prolonged, pervasive sadness is another signal that a person might be contemplating ending their life. Watch for changes in behaviour. For instance, if a normally outgoing person opts out of all activities, or a studious person skips class, it could be a sign.

  • Sometimes people attempt suicide not so much because they really want to die, but because they simply don't know how to get help. Suicide attempts are not a cry for attention but a cry for help. It becomes a way to demonstrate to the world just how much they are hurting. Unfortunately, these cries for help may sometimes prove to be fatal if the person misjudges the lethality of their chosen method. People who make a failed attempt are also at a much higher risk of trying again, and their second attempts are much more likely to be lethal. 


3. The gravity of the situation:

A report from WHO says, "Close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. Suicide is a global phenomenon and occurs throughout the lifespan. Effective and evidence-based interventions can be implemented at population, sub-population and individual levels to prevent suicide and suicide attempts. There are indications that for each adult who died by suicide there may have been more than 20 others attempting suicide."

This just means that since you started reading this article, about 5 people have died by suicide. Thinking about this shakes me to my very core. The issue is more serious than we think of it to be.

Take a look at the map below:

India is amongst the countries with the highest suicide rates in the world. Another image below shows the list of countries with a national suicide prevention strategy.

It is very disappointing to learn that a country with one of the highest suicide rates does not have a suicide prevention strategy. This is all the more reason we need to step up and help those around us so that we can get through this together


4. Your role in this war:

If you think someone you know is at risk for suicide, it’s better to take action and offer help that isn’t needed than worry about being wrong and do nothing when they truly need help.

Here are some ways you can help:

  • If they say anything that concerns you, talk to someone you trust, such as a friend or family member. Then get help. Urge them to call a suicide hotline. If you believe their life is in immediate danger, inform the police. If involving the police, stay with the person throughout the encounter to help maintain a sense of calm.

  • Take care not to say anything that might seem judgmental or dismissive. Expressing shock or empty reassurances, such as “you’ll be fine,” may cause them to just shut down. Try asking instead what’s causing their suicidal feelings or how you might be able to help.

  • Tell them you’re available to talk but know your limits. If you don’t think you can respond in a helpful way, don’t leave them on their own. Find someone who can stay with them and talk, such as another friend or family member, a therapist, a trusted teacher, or a peer support person.

  • Remind them of their value and express your opinion that things will improve, but emphasize the importance of seeking professional help.

  • If they have access to weapons, medications, or other substances they could use to attempt suicide or overdose, take these away if you can.


5. Two-minute conversations:

Personally, I relate a lot to memes. Take a look at this one:

I am sure a lot of people will relate to this one. If you think a little over this, it tells a lot about the importance of asking is someone is ok. This is all it takes to get someone to share their problems and it really helps. Yes, it is this easy.

When someone dies, we have a two-minute silence as a tribute to them. Why can't we communicate for two minutes with the living? Make it a point to have a two-minute conversation with everyone you know. You do not have to do it every day, but once in a while, just check on people if they are doing okay. A two-minute conversation can sometimes be the difference between life and death.


6. My sad story:

A lot of us have been through psychological disorders and hard times in life. Some of us manage to squeeze through it with little help. Now, we absolutely need to tell the tale. That is an important way by which we can show someone that we know what they are going through. The relatability and trust increase tenfold when the other person has been through the same thing that you are going through. Think of this as the 'Me-Too Movement' of mental health. It will only become a movement if everyone starts telling their tale and break the social stigma around it. The people who have already been through this are the greatest weapons that we can wield in this war. So wield yourself!

I was physically abused as a child. I was fat-shamed and I had very low self-esteem. I was even suicidal for a brief part of my life. I used to cry alone, get angry very easily and used to be destructive towards things around me as well as myself. At that moment, I did not believe that things will ever get better. I even ran away from my home once without any belongings. That was by far the lowest point in my life. I don't know if it was clinical depression, but it sure felt like that. I somehow pulled through, with the help of my friends and family. This is #mysadstory.

If you are currently seeking medical help for your mental health, talk about it. If you have ever been suicidal and were able to get past that, talk about it. If you are, in any way, thinking about suicide, talk about it.


7. Fresh eyes:

I have created a page named 'Fresh Eyes' on this blog that you can find in the menu. That is where you can anonymously talk about your problems or difficult situations and we can discuss it. I am not a professional psychologist, so I will not claim to give you therapy. All I can promise is that I will provide a new perspective on anything that you ask me. Here is the direct link to the page:


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