Suicide Prevention Day is observed on 10th September each year. This day is organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention. It is an opportunity to raise awareness all across the world that suicide can be prevented.
The ongoing pandemic has affected mental health majorly. Staying at home, low physical activity, less socialising and unexpected changes in the way everything works has made it important to highlight suicide prevention. World Suicide Prevention Day 2020 will be celebrated virtually this year by spreading information about suicide prevention via social media platform.
Eight years ago, the WHO estimated there were 13,377 suicides a year in Pakistan — 7,085 women and 6,021 men. The rate of attempted self-harm is at least 20 times higher, contributing to a significant burden of suicidal behaviour (a term that includes completed suicides, attempts of self-harm and suicidal ideation).Other known risk factors include mental disorders, lower socioeconomic status and domestic violence. Multiple clinical, psychological and sociological variables contribute to suicide psychopathology, all necessitating an urgent and comprehensive national suicide prevention programme.
Based on our resources, collaborative evidence-based strategies, aimed at both the individual and population level, and across multiple settings, should be considered. These may include suicide-awareness campaigns, gatekeeper trainings, access to mental health services, restriction of access to means, media strategies, etc. But this can only be planned if Pakistan first has an effective mental healthcare system in place.
Suicidal reactions may vary from anger, distress, ridicule, anxiety, tension, fear, sadness or any intentional determination to end one’s life.
“A passing suicidal thought happens to most of the individuals in a sudden life crisis or a traumatic situation. An Individual passing through any of these phases may think, attempt or complete the act. Some individuals due to their inability to cope with the stress or lack of adequate support mechanisms, finally find suicide as an option.
Signs and Symptoms
The behaviors listed below may be signs that someone is thinking about suicide.
- Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
- Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live
- Making a plan or looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching for lethal methods online, stockpiling pills, or buying a gun
- Talking about great guilt or shame
- Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions
- Feeling unbearable pain (emotional pain or physical pain)
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Using alcohol or drugs more often
- Acting anxious or agitated
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Changing eating and/or sleeping habits
- Giving away important possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
- Putting affairs in order, making a will
If these warning signs apply to you or someone you know, get help as soon as possible, particularly if the behavior is new or has increased recently.
- Safety Planning: Personalized safety planning has been shown to help reduce suicidal thoughts and actions. Patients work with a caregiver to develop a plan that describes ways to limit access to lethal means such as firearms, pills, or poisons. The plan also lists coping strategies and people and resources that can help in a crisis.
- Follow-up phone calls: Research has shown that when at-risk patients receive further screening, a Safety Plan intervention, and a series of supportive phone calls, their risk of suicide goes down.
Multiple types of psychosocial interventions have been found to help individuals who have attempted suicide (see below). These types of interventions may prevent someone from making another attempt.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help people learn new ways of dealing with stressful experiences through training. CBT helps individuals recognize their thought patterns and consider alternative actions when thoughts of suicide arise.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) has been shown to reduce suicidal behavior in adolescents. DBT has also been shown to reduce the rate of suicide in adults with borderline personality disorder, a mental illness characterized by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior that often results in impulsive actions and problems in relationships. A therapist trained in DBT helps a person recognize when his or her feelings or actions are disruptive or unhealthy, and teaches the skills needed to deal better with upsetting situations.