Suicide needs to be looked at, by society, as a human disaster; a disaster that is wrecking greater havoc day by day. With the changing socio-economic factors, a breakdown of our traditional family systems and a dearth of help available by means of trained mental health professionals, a preventable loss is taking on epidemic proportions. And that is where the importance of World Suicide Prevention Day cannot be over-emphasized. Suicide HAS to be seen as something that is preventable. And when it does take place, each suicide needs to be seen as a national loss. Suicide has been portrayed by different people in different ways and people perceive it in many different ways. A recent research that our team conducted showed that about 80% or so people blame the person either by saying that they were becoming impulsive, or that they were attention seekers or merely too weak. There’s also a problem in the way suicide is portrayed in popular media and in books. The result is that it’s been glamourized, and people’s perceptions as a result have become completely warped. This perception of suicide needs to change – it’s medical and scientific aspects need to be looked into more seriously. The reality of the matter, is after all, that 90% of all suicides are actually due to a psychiatry illness and if we simply intervene – take these people to the right people at the right time – most suicide risk can be averted. A frightening finding our own survey was also that 90% people do not know where to go to for help if they feel suicidal or know somebody else who is. And I think this is where we need to collectively invest our energies. What we need is for the government, the NGO sector, both public and private stakeholders come together and work towards suicide prevention. Greater awareness needs to be generated, by way of an active participation of the media. We need to create more helplines and resources which people can approach to talk about their problems. The dearth of professional help needs to be addressed by training more and more mental health experts in the field. When it comes to suicide prevention, on the spot crisis intervention is the key. Suicide is not just about an individual loss of life. Each time someone commits suicide, it leaves an indelible scar on at least six other people. It’s time we all come together, support each other in times of crisis and work towards eradicating this epidemic before it claims any more lives.

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