Suicidal thoughts are unique to individuals: Dr. Prerna Kohli, Clinical Psychologist
The series of World Suicide Prevention Day Articles continues with another article in which we have talked to psychologists to understand the whole issue of suicide. One World News, in its initiative to inform its readers. continues its awareness campaign by bringing an exclusive interview of Dr. Prerna Kohli, the only clinical psychologist to be awarded by the President of India. Below are the questions and answers that will give a lot of ideas about what goes behind a person’s mind before he/she decides to quit.
1. What triggers suicidal thoughts in the minds of people and do recent incidents have put the vulnerable people on the edge?
Ans: The triggers for suicidal thoughts are unique to an individual, but the most common triggers to suicidal thoughts are chronic stress and anxiety of not being able to cope with their situations. The situations could be physical, verbal, or sexual abuse, failing in academics, unemployment, poverty, substance abuse, being uncertain of sexual orientation, and other factors. The situations cause individuals to have feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness which could also be a trigger for committing suicide.
Issues related to the pandemic like social isolation, fear of uncertainty, stress, and anxiety have amplified the psychological distress for people with pre-existing psychological issues, making them vulnerable and susceptible to suicidal tendencies.
2. According to NCRB Data released for 2019, about 70% who committed suicide were males and the rest were females. How do you see the difference?
Ans: Even though NCRB’s data indicates that more men than women commit suicide, it can be contested by the fact that 1 in every 4 females goes through a mental health issue in comparison to 1 in every 7 males. The cause for more women going through mental health issues is because they face more physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. Other reasons that have been recorded are dowry-related (8%), love-affairs (6%), family problems (32%), and other marriage related issues (7%) and they are prevalent in women between the ages of 18-29 years.
NCRB’s data of 70% of males committing suicide could be true as studies show that males are more violent than females. But, there are a plethora of other studies that oppose this data by showing through their research why females could be more susceptible to suicide than males.
3. Has there been a jump in the number of suicides since the inception of the global pandemic? If there has been a jump, what are the possible reasons?
Ans: There has not been a recorded spike in suicide rates during the pandemic, because it is a time-taking process, but experts predict that post-pandemic, a spike in suicide rates could be witnessed. The global pandemic has had a great psychological impact on people. The pandemic is associated with depression, anxiety, social isolation, stress, and the fear of uncertainty. During the pandemic, there has been a loss of jobs or witnessing the death of a loved one, which has amplified the psychological distress mentioned above and made people vulnerable to suicidal tendencies.
4. What is the best way we can decrease the number of suicides in the country and the world?
Ans: There is a common misbelief that the act of suicide cannot be prevented. This misbelief is not just held by the masses but even by health professionals. The reason for this is that suicide is widely seen as a personal decision, that people shouldn’t have a say in. Other than that, there is also a belief that there are several environmental factors that a person has no control over. But the alarming increase in suicide rates indicates that there is a need for some methods of prevention of suicide.
The WHO (World Health Organization) conducted a study that says that there are possible interventions that could be developed to prevent suicide worldwide. It is a low-cost intervention that could be beneficial and easy to implement for developing countries like India. Areas of priority include supporting NGOs working towards suicide prevention, giving proper training to health professionals, teachers, promote accurate media reporting on suicide-related issues, reduce the availability of alcohol and its consumption, and most importantly, raise mental health awareness amongst the general population.
The real pandemic that our nation is facing, is suicide. Every 3-4 minutes someone in India commits suicide. Every one hour a student in India commits suicide. Every few seconds someone contemplates suicide. Unfortunately, like the proverbial ostrich, we as a society keep our head buried.
Another expert of the subject, Dr. Nitin Verma, Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department of Bharti College, Delhi University, also answered our query on the suicides amid the pandemic. He said, “The biggest reason for suicide is loneliness and the way people are moving towards a small family from a joint family, there has been a decline in the emotional attachment amongst the people. And presently when the country is battling COVID-19, these problems have increased. While some people have become jobless, others have become anxious at home as they have nothing to do. People have gradually started feeling lonely and different. And finally, when they couldn’t understand anything, they take steps like suicide. But if we don’t make them feel lonely, suicide can be easily prevented.”
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