World suicide prevention day: surge in suicides in Kerala
According to the statistics of the National Crime Records Bureau in 2019, Kerala reported the fifth highest in suicides in the country (24.3 per cent), which is higher than the national average (10.2 per cent). The number of suicides in Kerala has increased from 8,237 in 2018 to 8,556 in 2019, the percentage variation being 3.9. The suicide rate in cities (13.9) is a major concern when compared with the national suicide rate (10.4). Kollam has reported the highest suicides rate of 412 in Kerala followed by Thrissur 405, Thiruvananthapuram 331, Kozhikode 258 and Kochi 222. Kollam had reported 457 suicides in 2018. Tension, depression, anxiety, toxic or violent relationships, stress, pressure, financial crises, reasons are many for making thought to commit suicide.
Suicide is the first cause of death in the 15-39 years age group in the country. The WHO states that one person dies due to suicide every 40 seconds. For every single suicide here, there are many more people attempting suicide every year, says WHO’s report. This alarming number is gaining momentum during the pandemic, say researchers.
But before you leap, pause for a moment and dial a phone because help is just a call away.
DISHA 1056 (Direct Intervention System For Health Awareness) is a 24×7 Tele Medical Health Helpline venture jointly undertaken by the National Health Mission (NHM) and the Department of Health of Kerala . Functioning from 2013 onwards this state-wide health helpline has received more than 12500 calls for counselling in 2020. The usual number of calls to Disha is between 300 and 500 a day, but during the pandemic, it rose up to 3,500 calls.
DISHA started with 15 counsellors and six doctors, but following an increase in calls during the pandemic, the number of doctors at Disha was increased to 30.
Experienced social work professionals and medical practitioners are here to receive the calls and provide aid.
DISHA experts said that there are humongous calls received a day in which some of them will be emotionally outburst and panicked. Calls from worldwide reach there. In 2020, 200 counsellings were given to people living abroad, 1250 students across the states have approached DISHA for various health consellings.
Most of the calls are handled by the professionals attending the calls and in some cases where the caller needs psychological help, the call will be directed to the District Mental Health department for intensive care. 1056 (Toll-Free) / 0471-2552056 is the contact number of DISHA.
Depression is the number one cause of suicide. Then, untreated mental illness (including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and others), the death of a loved one, relationship issues, chronic physical pain, Loss of hope, being victimized (domestic violence, rape, assault, etc), feeling helpless, alcohol or drug abuse, bullying. (Adults, as well as children, can be bullied) and low self-esteem might force one to take the extreme step.
But there is a reluctance among people to seek medical help. According to DISHA reports, the reluctance is due to literacy. Seeking help is quite often treated as weakness. Either they hide or treat themselves unprofessionally and without an expert’s prescription.
The other reason is the lack of support from the dear ones. Family, friends, educational institutions or working space have to provide support and care for people having any trouble.
Another reason is the influence of negative messages conveyed through media. The suicidal scenes in the films, videos, social media etc ignite a thought of suicide in an unfavourable situation.
Hanging , the most frequent way of suicide
Keralites opt for hanging to death mostly according to the data of the National Crime Records Bureau. In 2018, 6156 people died by hanging. 987 poisoned themselves. 83 of them opted for the railway track. 287 jumped into fire. 196 of them are women. It is said that in Kerala the suicides are in the ratio of 2:1, where two women die to one man.
The suicidal tendency in children
At least 140 youngsters coming in the age group of 13 to 18 had died by suicide during the period of January 2020 to June 2020, according to a study conducted by DISHA. The study said that family conflicts, confused love affairs, failure in examinations, issues over mobile phones, and two-wheelers were among the major reasons for the suicides.
375 died of suicide in 2018, precisely, 177 boys and 198 girls. Thiruvananthapuram district has the highest number of suicides with 22 youngsters followed by Malappuram with 20 suicides. Most calls seeking help come from Thiruvananthapuram and Eranakulam.
Suicides are preventable. DISHA suggests a number of measures to prevent suicides including reducing access to the means of suicide including early identification and treatment of people with mental issues, and follow-up care for people who attempted suicide. Hence, before taking a big leap, it is always good to take expert advice because your problem may seem like an iceberg for you but experts can add salt onto it and melt it easily. Also, if any of your friends or acquaintances face any troubles, reach out to the professionals and find them a solution without any delay.