Dealing With Depression: Every Case Of Suicide Is Preventable, Say Psychiatrists

Untreated depression disorders are the leading cause of over 7 lakh suicides each year worldwide.
  • Look for warning signs that someone is contemplating suicide: Doctors
  • Suicide kills more people than tuberculosis, malaria and dengue
  • 1,33,623 people committed suicide in 2015: National Crime Records Bureau

New Delhi: Three patients are on a suicide watch in the psychiatric ICU of Institute of Human Behavior and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) in Delhi. Among them is Rajani. The 33-year-old has made three suicide attempts after her mother committed suicide 18 years ago.

Her father, Hari Om Tiwari, said, “She was crying inconsolably and was asking for poison. She said she wanted to go to her mother and grandmother.”

Social activist Kamla Bhasin told NDTV that her daughter Meeto suffered from depression while studying for her PhD. At the age of 27, she committed suicide.

Meeto was willing to see counsellors but was resistant to take medicines. Ms Bhasin said that the problem is that there’s too much dependence on tablets for all small and big ailments. “We are not able to understand that brain is also a part of the body and it can malfunction for some time,” she said.

Untreated depression disorders like Meeto’s are the leading cause of over 7 lakh suicides each year worldwide.

Social activist Kamla Bhasin’s daughter suffered depression and ultimately committed suicide at the age of 27.

As per the statistics available with the National Crime Records Bureau, 1,33,623 people committed suicide in 2015.  Suicide is an epidemic that kills more people than tuberculosis, malaria and dengue.

In India, the patients are known to undergo treatment 10 years after they first experienced the symptoms of depression, say doctors.

“If you leave depression untreated, it is likely to lead to disability and the possibility of suicide. That’s the reason why untreated depression is a public health problem,” said Dr Achal Bhagat, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, Apollo Hospital.

Every case of suicide is preventable: Dr Nimesh Desai

Psychiatrists say that suicides are preventable and in most cases, there are warning signs that someone is seriously contemplating suicide.

“There are a few myths about suicide which are relevant here. It is often believed that barking dogs seldom bite. The person who talks about suicide is unlikely to commit it,” said Dr Nimesh Desai.

Dr Desai, who is a senior professor of psychiatry and Director at IHBAS, said, “If anyone, particularly a person who is going through depression, talks about suicide, then our antenna should go up. It’s safe to err on the side of caution rather than doing nothing.”

The second myth is “if somebody has decided to end his life, he will do it. What can you do about it? You can’t help.” This is not true. Every case of suicide is preventable at least in theory and 98 to 99 per cent in actual practice, Dr Desai said.

When someone says I am fed up with my life, it’s a cry for help: Dr Sanjay Chugh

Dr Sanjay Chugh, senior consultant psychiatrist said, “If a person says I am fed up with life, then it is a cry for help. Verbalisation of suicidal thoughts and intent is a significant indicator of what is going on inside a person’s mind.”

“After a failed suicide attempt, if related depression is not treated, there is going to be a repeat which will be more planned and intense,” he added.

In a progressive move, the new Mental Health Care Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha last week, has decriminalized suicide. Previously, Section 309 in the Indian Penal Code prescribed a prison sentence of up to one year for attempting suicide.

According to the Bill, any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumed, unless proved otherwise, to have severe stress and shall not be tried and punished.

Under the Bill, the government will have to provide treatment, care and rehabilitation to a person who attempted suicide to reduce the risk of another attempt.

Activists believe that for changes to happen on the ground, the government has to create greater awareness about the suicide crisis. It has to evolve a suicide prevention strategy and a health policy response.

For counselling, you can call:

+91 22 25521111

+91 11 2338 9090
Lifeline Foundation
+91 33 24637432
+91 44 24640050 



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