ndia is a vast country with a population of 1.37 billion. A remarkable observation to be made about suicide studies in India is that suicide rates and patterns differ a lot between different States and territories. Possible explanations for these differences may point to factors relevant to the causation of suicide. Of the total 1.39 lakh suicides recorded in the year 2019, roughly 93,016 or 67 per cent were committed by youngsters (aged 18+ and below 45). Of these, 31,725 (34 per cent) suicides happened because of family problems, marriage related issues drove 7,293 (7.3 per cent) people to suicide.
Mental illness was a cause of suicide for 6,491 people or 7 per cent of the total suicide committed by youngsters. Drug abuse/alcoholic addiction drove 5,257 (5.6 per cent) to die by suicide and love affairs drove 4,919 (5.2 per cent) people to kill themselves. More importantly, the incidence of suicide due to family problems and mental illness is quite high in males. During the COVID-19 lockdown, there are reports pointing to an increase in alleged suicides. lockdown reported 164 stories talking about around 140 suicides and about 24 attempted suicides. On June 14 this year, Hindi film actor Sushant Singh Rajput was found hanging at his apartment in Bandra. Whether the celebrity died by suicide or not has been a mystery as the matter is still being investigated, however, his demise shook the entire nation. A teen’s brain is rapidly growing connections which can have certain side effects and that is the reason a big number of mental disorders like anxiety, eating disorder all kick in during teen years. Teens go through an identity crisis as both the mind and body are changing. They are confused and trying to come to grips with who they are mentally as well as physically. And teens who do not have a healthy support system and coping skills often succumb to suicidal thoughts. Children during their teen years develop a new sense of identity, new ideas regarding what they want to achieve in their lives. By the time the child reaches his teens, parents have formed solid notions of what the child’s day to day behavior should be and what the child should achieve in his or her life. And then teenage hits. This is where disappointments kick in.
India accounts for 17.8 percent of all reported suicide cases. According to the National Crime Bureau, India reported 381 suicides daily for the year 2019. Many mental health experts feel that underlying mental health issues are often sidelined when the cause of death is being assessed. The capability and worthiness of a child are judged solely on the basis of academic achievements and society, in general, is not open-minded enough to respect nonscholastic achievements. Such highly polarized judgmental opinions within the family can lead to dejection and the situation may appear to be insurmountable for some children, causing them to take the extreme step of committing suicide.
Some of the most common risk factors include depression, being the victim of sexual abuse, physical abuse, addiction, bullying, marginalization due to sexual orientation, and a family history of suicide. Parents need to watch out for obvious signs of suicidal tendencies, including talk of suicide, social withdrawal, mood swings, drug use, changes in routine, self-destructive behavior, severe anxiety, and personality changes. As a parent, it is always important to be aware of what is going on. They should have a non-judgmental attitude so the child is able to talk to them about issues freely. Be extremely aware of their changes and have empathy. Guide them and let them know that it is OK to not be OK. It is OK to feel down. Give them ample space to deal with their issues, while extending support throughout. There are times when the child may not be able to confide in parents, so take them to an expert. The purpose should be to help them wade through difficult situations and times. Parents have the constant urge to protect their kids from any pain or failure but these should ideally be seen as opportunities for learning. The parental role should be restricted to providing support and love, and the teen should be allowed to use his ability to resolve the issue. Suicide was the leading cause for over 300 “non-coronavirus deaths” reported in India due to distress triggered by the nationwide lockdown, revealed a new set of data compiled by a group of researchers. The ongoing pandemic has affected people’s mental health majorly. This year’s theme is ‘working together to prevent suicide.’
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, 2019, the average deaths by suicide every day in India is 381. The mental health crisis created by mass-scale employment and loss of income, financial distress, isolation, loss of liberty, fear of infection and death and concern regarding social isolation, etc., has further strengthened the grip of anxiety, depression, stress on people’s wellbeing in India. The lockdown has caused unprecedented changes in people’s lives.
According to ‘Rebooting 2020: A Story of COVID-19 and Shifting Perceptions’ survey by Mavericks India, sixty-one percent of Indians are experiencing mental-health related issues during this lockdown. This situation is not being given the attention and intervention it demands. There is a terrible amount of fear pertaining to the virus, of dying or losing loved ones. The unchecked spread of misinformation and rumours adds to the existing anxiety. There has been a widespread surge in partner violence during the lockdown. Frontline workers like doctors, nurses, police officials are in dire need of psychological support. 47% of health workers expressed their need for psychological help in a study conducted by Potloc. A research paper authored by Jianbo Li and Ying Wang reveals that in China, healthcare workers are reporting high rates of depression (50%), anxiety (45%), and insomnia (34%).
These figures are of significant concern, particularly in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, and Gujarat where the number of daily reported cases is very high. Many health workers have already complained of a shortage of masks, PPE from various corners of India throughout the lockdown. Many have also reported cases of mistreatment encountered in their communities. Coping with this psychological stress has been quite hard, and many in India have chosen suicide as a way out of their grim reality. Later into the lockdown, there was a spike in the number of suicide cases due to financial distress (disemployment and income loss included). The initial phases of the lockdown saw a higher number of suicides from fear. Restrictions on movement were more severe during these phases, so there were more reported suicides due to loneliness and social isolation. The later stages of the lockdown permitted not only millions of stranded people to go back home, but also let people move around their neighborhoods more freely. Reported suicide cases due to withdrawal after this first lockdown phase dramatically declined after liquor shops were reopened.
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