World Suicide Prevention Day: Emotional Challenges Faced By Suicide Attempt Survivors in India
Survivors of suicide often grapple with a unique set of emotions, including profound despair, shame, guilt, and hopelessness

India faces critical shortage of mental health professionals. Suicide attempt survivors in India often face substantial stigma and misconceptions surrounding mental health.

Thousands of people take their life around the world every year, and many more people attempt suicide or have serious thoughts of suicide. According to the WHO estimates, more than 700 000 suicide deaths occur every year. Globally, suicide is identified as the fourth leading cause of death among 15 29-year-olds. Most suicide cases (over 77 per cent) are reported from low- and middle-income countries, as per WHO. World Suicide Prevention Day, which is observed on 10th September every year, is a crucial opportunity to raise awareness that suicide can be prevented and to provide support to those who may be struggling with mental health issues and experiencing suicidal thoughts.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 1.64 lakh Indians took their own lives in 2021, an increase of 7.2% from the previous year. The suicide rate was recorded at 12 (per lakh population). To prevent suicidal deaths in India, it is very important to bust myths and end stigma surrounding mental health and suicide.

Due to stigma and taboo surrounding the topic, many people struggling with mental disorders and thinking of taking their own life or who have attempted suicide are not seeking help. Speaking to us ahead of the World Suicide Prevention Day, Kareena Mehta, a trauma-informed psychotherapist and the founder of Kare Counselling, throws light on the mental and emotional challenges faced by suicide attempt survivors in India, and how we can support them.

Q. What it is like to be a suicide attempt survivorin India?

Survivors of suicide often grapple with a unique set of emotions, including profound despair, shame, guilt, and hopelessness. India’s cultural landscape, along with its societal pressures, may add layers of complexity to their mental state. Factors such as family expectations, economic challenges, and limited access to mental health services in India can exacerbate their distress, making it critical to provide culturally sensitive and trauma-informed support tailored to their individual experiences.

Q. Common perception and challenges faced by suicide attempt survivors in India.

Survivors of suicide in India often face substantial stigma and misconceptions surrounding mental health. This pervasive stigma acts as a significant obstacle for individuals seeking help, as they fear being judged or discriminated against. Compounding this issue is the critical shortage of mental health professionals, with only one psychiatrist available for every 100,000 people and one mental health practitioner for every 10,000 people. This scarcity severely limits access to essential mental health care services.

Q. How to help them cope with trauma and societal judgment in the Indian context?

Supporting individuals in India dealing with suicidal thoughts requires a comprehensive approach. Encouraging them to engage in individual therapy provides a confidential setting for personalized support. In therapy, the therapist will assist in developing a safety plan, which includes emergency contacts, strategies for managing suicidal thoughts, and crisis helpline information. Alongside therapy, joining support groups connects individuals with shared experiences, reducing feelings of isolation. Additionally, sharing crisis helpline numbers, such as Tata Institute of Social Sciences iCall (Phone: 022 25521111) and Aasra (Phone: +91 9820466726), ensures immediate assistance during crises.

Promoting mental health awareness within the community is essential to combat stigma. Finally, encouraging self-care practices like mindfulness contributes to emotional well-being. This holistic approach creates a supportive environment, addressing emotional needs and fostering recovery.

Observed with the theme “Creating Hope Through Action,” World Suicide Prevention Day 2023 reminds that our actions can encourage hope to those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts and strengthen prevention.

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