If you know someone who is visibly depressed or struggling to cope with challenges of life, do not hesitate to intervene for fear of making things worse. Just hearing them out with empathy can make the difference between life and death, say experts. In India, more than 100,000 people commit suicide every year, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
“The key is to be empathic and not be sympathetic. People in a depressive state of mind only need to be heard,” said Pallab Maulik, Deputy Director and Head of Research at the George Institute for Global Health India, New Delhi, which conducts research aimed at changing health practices and policy.
As per the Global Burden of Diseases (GBD) data, mental health/suicide is the top reason for mortality among older adolescent girls and the figure remains among the top causes of death in boys as well.
“The number of adolescents committing suicide due to depression is increasing at an alarming rate in our country,” Maulik said on World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10.
“Various factors such academic pressures, personal relationship break-ups, pressures at work, interpersonal violence and intimate partner violence are some key reasons for depression amongst adolescents and young adults. Alcohol and drug abuse are some other factors that affect mental health well-being,” Maulik added.
According to the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), compassion and empathy from others helped to turn things around for vulnerable individuals. Offering a gentle word of support and listening in a non-judgemental way can make all the difference, said the official World Suicide Prevention Day 2017 Website. Being caring and listening with a non-judgemental ear are far more likely to reduce distress than exacerbate it, it said.
“About 800,000 people commit suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. Those in the 15 to 29 age group are particularly vulnerable,” said Anna Chandy, of Live Love Laugh Foundation, Bengaluru — a not-for-profit organisation founded by Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone.
“There may be people around you who are struggling to cope and display visible signs of being depressed. Noticing such signs, offering support and encouraging them to seek professional help is crucial,” Chandy added.
Maulik said that suicides can be prevented through various measures taken at community and individual level. “Early identification, treatment and care of people with mental and substance use disorders is important. Besides listening to the person, observing sudden behaviour change and proper counselling could help prevent a large number of deaths due to suicide,” Maulik added.