July 16, 2011

Choice to Make a Difference

The focus of our psychological counseling centre is suicide prevention and anti ragging. As a part of the Continuing Education Programme organized by the Hyderabad Psychological Association, the topic for the month was on counseling suicidal people; I had some knowledge about suicide, but I felt I need to have a lot more understanding on this subject, as this has been the focus in the centre. 

Hence I made sure that I attend this programme, I was happy because I had learnt so much in this programme, one of the shocking revelation for me was that the  studies show rate of sucide in India is 324 per day, and 122 in age group of 0-29 years.

While I listened to this presentation, I was very disturbed, for I learnt that this is the most preventable form of death and most of the persons who attempt suicide do not really want to die, they are ambivalent until the last minute and often seek help immediately after attempting.

Another important aspect has been that most people are suicidal only for a brief period of time, if they get help they need, they will never be suicidal again, it is also said talking about suicide increases the likelihood of encouraging the person to get the help needed and it lowers their anxiety.

What I learnt was also that most suicidal people communicate their intent sometime during the week preceding their attempt, and sometimes a suicide attempt for attention can also lead to death, hence it becomes very important for us not to dismiss a suicide attempt as simply being attention gaining device. The attention that they get may save their lives.

I also understood that when a person talks about suicide, fear can make us change the subject, making it harder for the person to get help. So Take them seriously; listen and give them the chance to talk. Offer any help.

I was also enlightened on clues and warning signs we need to look for: like verbal clues where in they used words to communicate their intent to die, and behavioral clues where they make attempts to kill themselves and also situational clues involves loss – a death, break up in relationship, divorce etc.

This programme made me think, deeply about how important it is to share this kind of information with those around us, every day we hear about people dying, sometimes very young, I recall as a youngster, in my neighborhood there were three suicides in the same family, all the 3 boys in the age group of 20, 22 & 24 hanged themselves to death.

I was too young, and was shocked and felt helpless, all I could do was to share about this incident in the local parish church, leaving it to the priests to follow up, for I had no idea what to do, today I am well informed, and I feel an urge to pass this information around, each of us can do our little in spreading the word, and prevent people from dying.
Today I know that anyone can help by way of emotional support and encouragement. Treatment might need to be done by a professional. All we need to do is just follow three simple steps:
Ask -   Are you thinking about suicide?
Appeal - Persuade them to stay alive by offering support and listening to them.
Assist - them to professionals who can help or assist them in getting the help they need.

There are also organizations working for this cause, contact them they are ready to help: one organization I am aware of is Makro Foundation who work with suicide prevention.  For more information log on www.suicidehelpdesk.org

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.To make a difference is not a matter of accident, a matter of casual occurrence of the tides. People choose to make a difference.” Maya Angelou

Have a nice day !

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