One suicide every 40 seconds! That is the alarming rate at which people kill themselves around the world. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death, globally. Every suicide is a tragedy and leaves behind family and friends of the deceased devastated and scarred for life. It destroys homes and lives of people who are left behind to mourn.
Not so long ago a popular television actor killed himself yesterday leaving behind his parents, wife and a four-year-old son. This news has sent shock waves and one shudders to think how his family would cope with this tragedy. When I think of his four-year-old son and how he will cope with this loss, I get shivers down my spine. News reports contrast the cause of suicide from a failed marriage to a failing career. But whatever the cause, every suicide is a tragedy that is even more lamentable because it is preventable.
The actor’s suicide is not the first and we know it is not going to be the last, but every such incident is a grim reminder how mental health afflicts people and is the modern-day global epidemic. One in four people around the world get impacted by mental health problems at some point of their life. Millions of people suffer from mental health issues that cause a range of problems from stress-related disorders, anxiety, depression and worst of them all suicides.
Most people focus on keeping themselves physically fit. In fact, the deceased actor was known to be fit as a fiddle, according to his co-stars. We have annual health checks, health camps – all focusing on preventable healthcare aiming to keep people physically fit. However, no such initiatives seem to focus on mental health. What most people fail to realize and accept that although physical health is important, a poor mental health will not help a fit body to survive. On the other hand, a strong mental health may help people to overcome physical health problems and cope-up better.
Mental health issues are both preventable and treatable, but we continue to underestimate its importance, or stigmatize the same making it difficult for people to express or seek help. With fewer than two psychiatrists for every 100,000 people, in India, the second most populated country in the world, the problem become even more acute as even those seeking help are not always able to access the same.
Despite the progress that mankind has made, mental health crisis and suicide are still wrapped in many myths. However, the fact is that these issues affect/can affect anyone irrespective of age, gender, income or social status.
Every suicide could have been prevented if there was someone who could listen to them, talk to them; if someone was for them when they faced despair and hopelessness.
Yes, the person who take this extreme step cannot shrug away the responsibility but first we need to recognize the fact that they are unwell and need attention, treatment and care. In absence of the same, the road ahead is filled with dangerous landmines, a path of no-return.
Whenever we hear of a suicide, we think about it till the news headlines last and finally shrug it off thinking it has not affected us or our family or friends. But such risks may be lurking around the corner as mental health problems come in stealthily. It is a silent killer.
So, for once, let’s stop ignoring or continue living with in this blissful ignorance that it can never affect us or our near and dear ones. It is important to educate ourselves on mental health, signs of deteriorating mental health, understand anxiety, depression and suicidal symptoms and develop an empathy for people who are affected, instead of making fun of them, stigmatizing them or ignoring/avoiding them. Mental health problem is no longer the headache of mental health professionals alone, it is everyone’s problem, and we all need to join hands and make a difference.
Each One, Save One.
Every life saved is saving many other lives from dying a living death.
About the Author
Dr. Debashish Sengupta is a celebrated award-winning author, millennial expert, business consultant, professor, a master trainer and a Harvard University certified teacher. He is the Asia Editor of ‘The Future of Earth’.