Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide, says the World Health Organisation, adding that in 2016, suicide was the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29 years, after road injury. “Among teenagers aged 15-19 years, suicide was the second leading cause of death among girls (after maternal conditions) and the third leading cause of death in boys (after road injury and interpersonal violence),” it says.
On September 10 every year, World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is observed to raise awareness that suicide isn’t the last resort and can be prevented. The day is organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and co-sponsored by WHO.
Considering this year’s theme, ‘Working together to prevent suicide’, Dr Kedar Tilwe, psychiatrist and sexologist, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi- A Fortis Network Hospital explains the impact of ill-treatment in childhood and its impact on mental health in the growing years.
Both prolonged and brief exposure to adverse experiences in childhood can have a huge impact and leave life-long emotional scars on a person’s psychological health and well-being. Blaming oneself for the event or its repercussions can result in a negative self-image, low confidence and self-esteem, and a complete lack of self-worth. Some consequences of ill-treatment in childhood:
1. The shame, guilt and trauma of betrayal associated with the abuse, can lead to social isolation, inability to trust people and impede the formation of meaningful, fulfilling long-term relationships.
2. Sometimes, psychological coping mechanisms may be insufficient to deal with the stress and consequently result in a person resorting to rash and impulsive self-sabotaging behaviour such as substance abuse (e.g. alcoholism), self-harm, anti-social behaviour, etc.
3. There is an increased vulnerability for precipitation of psychiatric illnesses such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and even personality disorders.
4. Often, those who have suffered ill-treatment in childhood have a higher probability of perpetrating the same behaviour towards their family or loved ones, in later life.
Though not all people who suffer abuse as children have difficult adulthood, many continue to suffer silently. However, it must be noted that they are not responsible for what happened and do not have to endure the same. A few ways to rebuild one’s self-esteem and confidence:
1. ACCEPT: Remind yourself that you were not responsible, and, more importantly, accept that you too have the right to a full and happy life.
2. CHANNELISE YOUR RESENTMENT: Re-directing your anger towards a more socially acceptable cause or activity is perhaps the most constructive way to deal with it. So, harness all that negative energy and put it into something you enjoy doing.
3. REACH OUT: You don’t have to suffer alone. Enlist your support system and include them in your recovery process allowing them to help you in any way they can.
4. PROFESSIONAL ADVICE: Seeking guidance from an individual, expert, or an accredited organisation can provide you with a non-judgmental secure base and comfort zone. Learning essential life-skills and coping techniques can hasten the recovery.