Suicide Prevention and the Pandemic | UPSC

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IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 10th Oct 2020

Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.– Joshua Marine

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020.

EDITORIAL HUNT #182 :“Suicide Prevention and the Pandemic | UPSC

Suicide Prevention and the Pandemic | UPSC 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.

 

      HEADLINES:

Saving lives under the long shadow of the pandemic

      CENTRAL THEME:

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

      MAINS QUESTION:

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)

      LEARNING: 

  • Mental Health
  • Rising stress levels
  • Role of Media

      INTRODUCTION: 

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted populations around the world in multiple ways.

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’.

There is some evidence that ‘deaths by suicide increased in the United States during the 1918-19 influenza pandemic.

  • 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.

In fact, preliminary information from New Zealand, Japan and the United Kingdom suggest lower suicidal behaviour at least in the early phase of the pandemic.

  • 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.

      BODY: 

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.

Dire socio-economic conditions arising from the pandemic — mass migration, unemployment and economic distress — make at-risk groups even more vulnerable during these times.

RISING STRESS

  • 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.

VULNERABLE POPULATION

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.

The need for extra care and vigilance during institutional treatment for either COVID-19 or any other illness.

  • 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.

MEDIA’S ROLE

  • 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.

      IASbhai Windup: 

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.

It is essential that if suicide has been attempted the individual has the required intervention and regular contact support.

  • 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

 

TRENDING NOW : Important The Hindu Editorials 

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