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Ramprasad Attur

Ramprasad Attur is a Child psychiatrist and Director - Tender Minds and Adviser at Address Health

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World Suicide Day: What Are Sixty Seconds For You?

Modern life means we may be not stopping and noticing the natural things around us which includes people

One can probably order a pizza these days or send 10-15 messages on whatsapp in a minute. We do many things on a daily basis that takes just under 1 minute. Unfortunately most of these interactions can be with things and not with people. Modern life means we may be not stopping and noticing the natural things around us which includes people. This minute spent in the right way could be a saviour for someone. It could be the lifesaving intervention for the deeply depressed person, the person who has lost all hope and wish to live.

“Take a minute, Change a Life” is this year’s theme on World Suicide Prevention day observed on every 10th September. This highlights the importance of roles we all play being part of the community, be it work community, family or wider society. A role that we can play with not much training or qualification, all we need is the human nature of care and compassion for our fellow beings.

Suicide has become one of the top killers in our modern society. In India suicide has become the second leading cause of death in young people between 15-29 years old. Though it is not a new phenomenon, increasingly we are getting more and more aware of how much common it is. According to WHO a suicide is committed every 40 seconds across the globe. 80000 deaths occur due to suicide round the world. 25 times of that try to commit suicide unsuccessfully. When these survivors are asked what comes through is that at some point along their plans to act on the death wish, they would have benefited from that one person asking about them, enquiring how they are doing and if everything is ok. This may make a difference to the outcome of whether they carry out the act of committing suicide or not. A person could just take a minute to recognise and ask if they are okay might lead to that person opening up or finding alternatives. You can be that person but something may make you reluctant to do that.

Talking about it makes the person to think about Suicide: A common myth held by majority of people, even professionals for that matter. Mental health professionals routinely ask about whether the person thought of ending their life. Just by bringing up the topic, it makes it easier for the other person to discuss it without fearing what the other person might think or say.

I am not an EXPERT: being alert and using your listening skills does not require one to be a trained expert. All it takes is for one to be available and listen without judging or preaching.

I need to have answers: Many a time we think we need to be able to have answers to the difficult questions or situations that the person may be in. This is not helpful and causes us to not ask the question “are you ok?” Many people having suicidal thoughts appreciate the fact that someone actually cares about how they are feeling and are not looking for specific advice

Do remember, suicidal behaviour happens in different forms and affects different ages. Class or qualifications do not matter. It is not for attention seeking and one has to take every gesture as serious rather than ignoring it. If someone has attempted in the past or done something to hurt themselves deliberately that is a good indicator of the future risk.

There is no one treatment that can prevent Suicide due to the multiple causes. However keeping your eyes and ears open and being sensitive to people around you and yes, pending that little time can be the thing that separates life and death for someone.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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