Author of “HANG ON – A SECOND WIND”
The recent two successful launch of Chandrayan-3 and Aditya-L1 by Indian Space Research Organization has clearly proven the fact that failure is the first step towards the success. Failure leads to extreme distress and is always perceived as the dead end thereby leading to suicide in many cases. Those dead-end road give rise to a few more roads, thin but long enough. This seed needs to be conceived in the minds of those with suicidal thoughts and for that a national awakening is needed.
Suicide presently stands at 17th leading cause of death globally while cardiac death stands at number one. But when it comes to young population, it is the third most common cause of death. Suicide is considered to be a silent killer just like cardiac arrest. The patients suffering from cardiac arrest are visible whereas most of the suicide patient remain invisible in the society till the act is performed. While most of the cardiac patient tend to visit the doctors and do regular follow ups. Patient with mental illness often tend to avoid medical attention. Primary reason being the social stigma attached with mental illness. The moment they feel like visiting a Psychiatrist, the stigma of mental retardation dodges them. Even though they suffer from severe anxiety, depression and fear but the retardation often comes in front thereby inhibiting them from consulting a Psychiatrist. For that matter, they even fear to visit a Clinical Psychologist or a Social Counsellor.
As per NIMHANS 2016 report, the treatment gap for the various mental disorders ranged between 70-92% and for suicide too it will certainly on higher side. Over and above, a recent research finding from the Indian Journal of Psychiatry has revealed that India has 0.75 psychiatrists and psychologists per 100,000 people. The desirable number as per WHO guideline is anything above three psychiatrists per 100,000 population. There is an extreme scarcity of psychiatric social workers and NGO’s too in India working for suicide awareness and prevention. In order to reduce the gap significantly, the national mental health programme envisages a community based approach to the problem. That includes training of the mental health teams, increase awareness about mental health problems, provide services for early detection and treatment, provide valuable data and experience at the level of community in the State and Centre for future planning, improvement in service and research.
Recently as I underwent a training programme by Suicide Prevention India Foundation [SPIF], two important programme struck my mind, QPR and Gatekeeper. As I deep dived further, I realized the significance of both knowing the gap that exists in treating suicidal thoughts. Even a suicide myth got cleared which I carried all these years like many others. The biggest myth about suicide, according to Dr. Paul Quinnett, is that talking more about suicide will rather encourage people to do it. What he confirms is that, this is a protective myth to help us avoid and continue to stigmatize people who are considering suicide. Believing if we don’t talk about it, it will go away, while just the opposite is true.
Just as CPR is needed today similarly, QPR too is necessary knowing the current level of suicidal thoughts prevailing in the society. CPR [Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation] is a physical training to save lives in emergencies like a heart attack or if a person feeling choked. QPR [Question, Persuade and Refer] is a counselling technique used for people suffering from mental illness leading to suicidal thoughts. The primary aim of QPR is to spot warning signs that someone may be thinking about suicide and how to leverage resources to get them help through medical health professionals. Erasing suicide attempts and thoughts may sound weird and a herculean tasks but QPR is one such tool which can accomplish it.
The second greatest myth, Dr.Paul Quinnett says, is that suicide can’t be prevented. A person who has decided to kill himself will definitely do it even if someone tries to resist him. It is absolutely absurd and has been proven by Dr Paul Quinnett who has saved many patients with suicidal thoughts. Awareness is the first step to prevention, and a Gatekeeper can play an important role in preventing suicide and removing the stigma surrounding mental health. A Gatekeeper is a certified professional knowing QPR extensively. The three steps that he need to know is to identify the warning signs that someone may be considering suicide, the confidence to speak to them about their thoughts and the tools to guide the person to seek professional help. Since the ratio of Psychiatrists and Clinical Psychologists to the population is extremely low in India, such gatekeepers can be of great help in implementing the QPR activity successfully. Government too should initiate this activity at all the Public health centres through Gatekeepers. Since suicide takes a heavy toll on the young population, the youngsters must be encouraged more by providing QPR training to them.
It’s high time to increase the noise level of “SAY NO TO SUICIDE” in schools, colleges, Agricultural Universities, Hospitals, Medical Colleges, Public Health Centres, Rural Health departments, Hotels and Malls, Corporate office – small or big including banking sectors, various Government offices and departments. Just as the Cancer awareness posters which are seen in cigarette and tobacco products packaging, similarly, Suicide awareness poster like the above one should be made visible at all the public places. The noise level should be so much that there is no space left for the suicidal thoughts in brain and no place for doing such act.
Suicide is a preventable form of death, and Dr. Paul Quinnett believes in a positive outcome. “Suicide prevention is an enormously rewarding work, because you get to do something that a few people get to do in this world, and that’s actually saving a life,” he concludes.