Every 40 seconds, a life is lost to suicide across the world, says data provided by the World Health Organization. World Mental Health Day is observed by the World Federation for Mental Health and highlights on the fact that close to 800,000 people die of suicide every year.
The second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 to 29, suicide can be prevented with timely, evidence-based, low-cost interventions.
This year, World Mental Health Day is focusing on suicide prevention. Keeping this in mind, the WHO has launched an intervention-based campaign — ‘40 seconds of action’.
According to experts, this short window of time is all that it takes for someone to hurt themselves. It also all the time that is needed to save someone from themselves, give them hope and a chance to live.
With the growing recognition of suicides being a major area of concern, especially for youth and adolescents, it has become increasingly important for people to assume the responsibility to help work towards ensuring adequate measures for the identification, reporting, assessment, as well as intervention of such incidents.
Most importantly, one need to help individuals recognize the need to have a preventive approach in place and one of the important agencies in this regard are educational institutions.
While there is an increase in the awareness as well as acceptability of mental illnesses, there still seems to be a major gap existing in the actual help seeking behaviour. Individuals are crowed down by hesitations and reluctance to actually be open and talk about their mental health related concerns, fearing judgment and discrimination.
One needs a sensitive approach, creating openness in the environment to combat the issue.
According to Dr. Samir Parikh, Director, Department of Mental Health and Behavioral
Sciences of Fortis Healthcare, this could be done by simply encouraging compassionate conversations pertaining to mental health.
According to Dr Parikh, educational institutions have enormous opportunities to bring about a change in the future of the field of mental health. They bear the responsibility of fostering growth and development of the young minds and should encourage emotional awareness and regulation, adaptive coping and problem-solving skills including conflict resolution, crisis management, as well as emotional regulation and resilience building.
He further states that another helpful means available to work towards such a cause of suicide prevention is the optimum utilization of social media platforms, to increase accessibility especially among the youth.
Dr Parikh says, "Despite the growing awareness and realization, there still remains a wide gap to be filled in to ensure adequate support and services for all. Liaisons between public and private sectors is the best way forward to ensure maximum outreach." He further adds, "We all individually need to assume responsibility for spreading awareness about accessibility as well as referrals to appropriate professional help of counselors and psychiatrists."
The doctor finally reveals that one needs to promote an adequate training and empowerment of parents, teachers, social workers and staff actively engaging with children and adolescents, to be able to have the earliest identification as well as timely interventions for them.