Growing rate of suicides has emerged as a major concern with India recording the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia in 2012, according to a recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report. Also, a study in the Lancet indicated that suicide rates are highest in the 15-29 age groups in India.
With World Suicide Prevention Day, observed each year on September 10, Mental Health and Behavioural Science Institute of Fortis Healthcare has conducted a survey which revealed that a large majority of 91 per cent respondents of the total sample size (3000 adults) consider suicide or self-harming behaviour an act of impulsivity.
Only 14 per cent participants said that were able to identify someone who has attempted or committed suicide around them.
Further, 58 per cent of the respondents do not consider suicide attempts or thoughts as a sign of any illness despite increasing evidence suggesting suicide attempts are result of an imbalance in their brain chemicals.
This indicates the attitude of a majority of people towards suicide, such issues being shrouded in misconception, with a lack of awareness about such behaviour. There is a strong need to educate people about the nature of suicidal behaviour, to enable a better understanding and thereby ensure a more empathetic and supportive attitude towards suicidal behaviour.
According to Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director of WHO, South-East Asia Region, worldwide, the prevention of suicide has not been adequately addressed due to lack of awareness of suicide as a major problem and the taboo in many societies to openly discuss it.
Suicide prevention requires intervention also from outside the health sector and calls for an innovative, comprehensive multispectral approach, including both health and non-health sectors, e.g. education, labour, police, justice, religion, law, politics and the media,” Singh said.