Article written by :
Dr. Anindita Chatterjee, PhD (Clinical Psychology)
Consultant Clinical Psychologist and
Coordinator Child Guidance
Rajiv, a 17 year old boy who was topper in his class and school was loved by all his friends, teachers and family. He committed suicide one fine morning leaving no suicide note.
Suhail, a 23 year old man working in a BPO, very popular in office, famous for his helping attitude, hanged himself in his house.
Sarmistha, 44 year old married woman set herself on fire leaving behind her 12 year old son and husband.
These are all unnatural deaths and they left a scar in the minds of their family members including people who knew them. When someone commits suicide, many questions crop up – like why, when, where, what etc. Sometimes we get answers and sometimes we assume as per our convenience. Actually when somebody commits suicide the actual story behind it goes away along with the individual if no clue is left behind. It is very difficult to assume suicidal ideation unless the person expresses it.
The reasons can be many for committing suicide and sometimes there might not be any underlying reason to do it. The most prominent reason is the mental health issue. Suicidal behaviour always refers to talking about or taking some actions related to ending one’s own life. It should be considered as a psychiatric emergency.
One of the main differences between feeling of sadness or low mood and clinical depression, which is a mental illness, is the duration of experience. When the sadness becomes persistent, day after day, and is present for a long period (mostly over two weeks), it could be a clinical illness.
Some common symptoms are:
• The person may talk about feeling of hopeless, trapped all alone in the world and say that there is no reason to go on living in this lonely planet.
• He may be giving away personal possessions
• Search for a means of doing personal harm.
• There could be too much or too little sleep and appetite.
• Not wanting to get out of bed
• Constant headaches/stomach aches
• He may be engaging into reckless behaviour, including excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs.
• Avoiding social interaction and social communication.
• Expression of anger, anxiousness and agitation is also common.
• Lack of energy, and not wanting to do things that he/she liked doing before
• Irritability – snapping at people often, trying to start fights without reason
These red flag signs are important to consider and never to be ignored thinking everything will go off with the time.
The most important factor is to identify the above signs and be with that person who really needs you. It is important to stay calm and speak in a reassuring tone. To acknowledge the feeling that “yes we understand”. Try to offer support and encouragement and most importantly to make sure that they know that help is available and if they opt then they can feel better.
Suicide is a hidden thought; we need to understand that help can change the life of the person. Awareness is increasing and many activities and initiatives are being taken around the world to prevent suicide. Some frequently asked questions are given below:
What would you do if you feel that you are depressed or know someone who is?
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression for two or more weeks, speak to your parent/family members/teacher/ friends. Do not be quiet about it or delay much longer. Depression can be treated and the sooner the treatment starts, the better it is.
How would you know that you require counselling?
Counselling is for anyone who is going through a difficult time in their lives. Counselling often looks like talking – but it is treatment as it is a structured process, designed to help you. Through counselling, people learn about themselves. They discover ways to overcome troubling feelings or make changes in themselves or their situations. Counselling is a combination of building trust, talking and listening. It also involves receiving support and guidance. Through talking, listening and observing, a counsellor can evaluate the problem that needs attention.
Are counsellors meant for people with serious mental health conditions ?
This is a misconception. While counselling is offered for people with severe illnesses as well, it is also anybody who is looking for support and help in dealing with a difficult situation.
Counselling is a process of empowerment which gives you the tools to be happier, aim higher and much more.