World Mental Health Day is celebrated annually on 10th of October. The theme for this year is “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World”. Young people today are constantly battling with the trauma of mental illness leading them to take drastic steps such as suicide. Mental illness is a serious issue and yet many do not seek help because of the social stigma associated with it. Keeping in mind this year’s theme, let us all raise awareness and extend support to those who are struggling with mental health.
Mental Health and Wellness
The world health organization estimates that 80,000 people die each year due to suicide which roughly translates as one person per every 40 seconds and suicide was the leading cause among 15 to 29 years old annually. According to research conducted by Nagaland Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) in 2015, Nagaland was the second least suicidal state in the country with 21 cases (0.9℅) behind Bihar with 0.5%. But there was an increase of 61.5% in 2015 compared to 2014 which recorded in 13 cases. In the North-eastern states, NCRB recorded 12,802(5%) cases from 2001 to 2012.
What drives so many individuals to take their lives? It is difficult to understand for those who are not in the grips of suicidal depression and despair. However, it has been observed that a suicidal person is gripped in such a pain that he or she can see no other option than Suicide. A person going through depression and despair may not ask for help but that doesn’t mean that help is not wanted. In the present scenario, the cases are said to be increasing every year. Suicide is a desperate attempt to escape sufferings like depression, high-stress lifestyle, Bipolar disorder, extreme anxiety, emotional breakdown, the sudden death of loved ones, trauma, financial problem, the high expectation from families, social isolation, drug addiction, inferiority complex, and the list goes on. Even lack of parental support and alienation from and within the family, youth growing up without meaningful connection with adults, stressful academic environment and previous suicidal attempts are at risk. Depression, mental illness and substance abuse are also major risk factors for suicide. A suicidal person cannot see any way of finding as a relief except through death.
Dimapur is a commercial hub and a cosmopolitan city and it records the highest suicide cases in the state. A parent alone should not address the issue but schools and colleges should include the topic on suicide to create awareness and help overcome the issues among the students or in any workplace for adults. As per the research of World Health Organization in 2016, in India two in every three people are depressed.
On the psychological factors- stressful life events which may be due to loss, abuse, and chronic physical illness tends a person to be suicidal. According to the Lancet Psychiatry 2015 journal, unemployment causes 45, 000 suicides in a year; including workplace stress such as job strain and occupational uncertainty. Every individual must be aware of the sign and symptoms of suicide in order to prevent it. The role of media such as social comparison, body image, interpersonal relationships that include family factors, romantic relationship, and conflict in romantic relationships contribute significantly towards suicidal behaviour as per Aspalan 2003 research.
A suicidal person tend to behave as a giver, sorting affairs, talking negative, risky behaviour isolation, self-harming, negative ideation, mood swings, feeling hopelessness, and self-critical. Even those who go through emotional pain and untreated mental disorders are at risk and those are the traits one need to observe in a person.
According to research 7 out of 10 who has attempted suicide has shown signs of suicide. But most of the time we miss them because of ignorance and failing to be there for those who are in distress.
In Nagaland, because of taboo and stigma associated with suicide, the issue is kept a secret and avoided. Anyone can be at risk of suicide and it is high time we understand the signs and symptoms and create Awareness.
In Naga society, even ‘Death’ is categorized into two-natural and unnatural, and suicide is categorized as the latter. And such death is not given due diligence while dehumanizing the dead as well as the family. To avoid such an event, a person dealing with a suicidal person should be a non-judgmental empathic listener and parents must be vigilant and should not be so sure that their child will not consider suicide.
Even though people are highly intelligent and qualified; the question of how strong a person’s mind is- remains uncertain. Emotional intelligence is a drawback to human beings and this need to be managed by getting emotional support from near and dear ones and also through spiritual support.
The bible also says in Philippines 4:8
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”.
Each of us should be aware that suicide attempt is considered an offence under section 309 of Indian Penal code (IPC) and whoever attempts to commit suicide and act towards the commission of such offence shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year (with fine or without). However, decriminalization under the mental health act (MHCA) of 2017, a person who attempts suicide is presumed to have severe stress, which means it is triggered by mental health illness and should not be criminalized which imposes on the government a duty to provide care, treatment and rehabilitation of the person to ensure that there are no re-occurrence to attempt suicide.
Lastly, I would like to conclude with the message that we should be more sensitive to people around us because we don’t know what he/she is going through and if we find any signs of mental distress in someone we care, we should take it seriously. Talk to the person by being positive, start a conversation and seek professional help and support.
Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr Hewasa Lorin, Tatongkala Pongen, Aniruddha, Meren and Kvulo Lorin.
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