IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 10th Oct 2020
Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.– Joshua Marine
EDITORIAL HUNT #182 :“Suicide Prevention and the Pandemic | UPSC“
Dr. Sukriti Chauhan | Dr. Lakshmi Vijayakumar
Suicide Prevention and the Pandemic | UPSC
Dr. Sukriti Chauhan is a public health policy expert and Founder, ETI Foundation, Dr. Lakshmi Vijayakumar is Founder, SNEHA, a suicide prevention centre.
Saving lives under the long shadow of the pandemic
Along with fighting the virus, there is a growing need to make mental health and suicide prevention a priority
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 4 : Human Values : Applied Ethics
A majority of individuals who are suicidal do not really want to die but find living difficult. A proper support system can address the issues during the pandemic.Discuss -(GS 4)
- Mental Health
- Rising stress levels
- Role of Media
MENTAL HEALTH AND RISKS
- MENTAL HEALTH : The fear of being infected and anxiety about an uncertain present and future have impacted mental health severely.
- MOST VULNERABLE : Lockdowns have led to isolation, in turn heightening anxiety and causing depression in societies, particularly in vulnerable communities’.
- ELEVATED RISK : While the novel coronavirus pandemic is ‘unprecedented in its scope and scale, previous studies suggest an elevated risk of suicide during such times’.
- RECENT PROOF : Also among older people in Hong Kong during the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic.
- INCREASING NUMBERS : However, it has been noted that a rise in suicides in the wake of the pandemic is not inevitable.
- LIFESTYLE DISORDERS : Major lifestyle shifts led to the rise of many lifestyle disorders in the last decade.
- MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS : These are one of the disorders of most concern, which have been swept under the carpet of stigma and discrimination.
- PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESS : Many suicides are related to psychological disorders and distress.
NEW NORMAL, CONSEQUENCES
- CHANGING LIFESTYLES : The pandemic’s massive toll on human well-being — in a physical and mental sense — has completely changed the way people live.
- ACCEPTING NEW NORMAL : Social distancing, limited interactions and mask usage are the new normal, with a huge social, physical, economic and mental consequences.
HIGHEST SUICIDAL DEATHS PER YEAR
- STATES : Maharashtra (18,916), followed by Tamil Nadu (13,493), West Bengal (12,665), Madhya Pradesh (12,457) and Karnataka (11,288).
- WORST AFFECTED STATES : While the pandemic has affected the entire country, case incidence rates are the worst in States such as Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.
- UNCERTAINTIES ON RISE : While progress on a COVID-19 vaccine is promising, uncertainty as a result of the pandemic is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
- STRESS LEVELS : The fear of getting infected, coupled with a lack of knowledge and the economic fallout has created a new level of stress not seen by many before.
- ISOLATION : This is compounded by isolation from the community, causing high levels of mental duress and ultimately, COVID-19-related suicides for many.
This situation is the worse among :
- Health-care workers
- Infected people
- The elderly
- Migrant workers
- Those from resource-poor backgrounds
- Women facing domestic violence
- Individuals with compromised immunity
- Those suffering from physical or psychological problems.
- ALCOHOL-RELATED SUICIDES : The sudden closure of alcohol/liquor outlets resulted in an increase in alcohol-related suicides.
- HIGH PRIORITY : As we continue to fight the novel coronavirus, there is a growing need to make mental health and suicide prevention a priority.
- EARLY SIGNS : Any early signs of poor mental health such as a sudden change in behaviour, substance use, anxiety, disturbed sleep and difficulty in communication should not be ignored.
- BEING INFORMED : Limiting ourselves to authentic sources of information and reducing exposure to distressing news is a good mechanism to help a person cope with the situation.
- EMPATHIC SOLUTIONS : Suicide prevention requires a mix of a top-down and a bottom-up approach, ensuring that all interventions are rooted in empathy.
- GUIDELINES : The media would need to follow Press Council of India’s guidelines on reportage of suicide and also create awareness about suicide prevention.
- DEDICATED TASK FORCE : India has created a task force to develop a national suicide prevention strategy.
The plan incorporates the three universal strategies:
- A ban or reduction in access to highly hazardous pesticides
- Reduction in consumption and availability of alcohol
- A non-sensationalised and responsible portrayal of suicide by the media.
SEEKING SUPPORT IS KEY
- DESTIGMATISING SUICIDE : There is an urgent need for destigmatising suicide as a phenomenon and ensure accessible helplines and training of gatekeepers.
- SUPPORT SYSTEMS : Most importantly, a system intervention can focus on identifying, supporting and referring suicidal individuals at all levels of the health-care system.
- ADDRESSING ISSUES TIMELY : Support at the right moment can change this decision.
- COMPASSION : Understanding, compassion and support, at both an individual and the systemic levels, can save a life.
You are not alone and must reach out for support, as help is available.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Suicide Prevention and the Pandemic | UPSC