Counsellors, teachers and peers say that suicides could have been prevented only if those with suicidal tendencies had talked about their problems.

A college student chided by her teacher commits suicide. Another one not able to cope with studies commits suicide.

A boy whose love is spurned by a girl commits suicide. Yet another who has more than 15 arrear papers to clear commits suicide.

But it is a fact that a high number of suicides in Coimbatore have been happening over such reasons in the last two years.

Counsellors, teachers and peers say that these suicides could have been prevented only if those with suicidal tendencies had talked about their problems.

The ‘at-risk-for-suicide’ persons only needed to be convinced that the issue for which they had decided to die for was something that could be overcome and not worth dying for.

The reluctance to share problems with a confidante is seen to be the greatest hurdle in preventing suicides.

Realising the significance of this hurdle, this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10 was observed with the theme of ‘Stigma: A Major Barrier for Suicide Prevention’.

The theme has relevance from the fact that many who have problems and suicidal tendencies do not seek help for fear of being stigmatised, ridiculed or shamed.

According to D. Srinivasan, psychiatrist, Kovai Medical Center and Hospital, tolerance levels of college students have reduced drastically.

“They are not able to handle issues mainly because of low self esteem. Comparisons between classmates, pressure to perform, not knowing where friendship ends and love begins, not able to cope with the transition from school to college, etc, are the main reasons for which most of the students are committing / attempting suicide,” he says.

Though in most cases, the decision looks to be impulsive for an onlooker, it is not a decision taken on the spur of the moment.

It is a combination of genetic / biological vulnerability, psychological make up, and social network of the person concerned, he adds. Psychologists and senior faculty of colleges say that students prefer to have an open line of communication with parents and peers rather than the teachers and other elders. But this line has to be developed from early years to gain that level of confidence and trust.

It cannot be expected to be achieved after a certain age.

Though teacher-student mentoring and parent-child counselling are seen as important, peer role in identifying suicidal tendencies and helping the at-risk-for-suicide person is seen as the most vital.

This is because, many seek professional help only after a failed attempt. Psychotherapists say that if the at-risk-for-suicide person seeks help or is brought by near and dear ones for help in a timely manner, suicidal deaths can be greatly reduced.

According to K. Selvaraj, Director, Vazhikatti Mental Health Centre and Research Institute, there are effective treatments for all kinds of psychological trauma that lead to suicide.

“It is only a question of seeking / getting help early. But in traditional societies, ignorance and stigma are preventing persons from getting effective help,” he says.

Not only the person with suicidal tendency, the family members and others closely related to them also need support, education and guidance to understand and solve the problems associated with suicidal behaviour.

This becomes a difficult task as suicidal behaviours are kept as secrets, he adds.

The urgent need is to create awareness among those with suicidal tendencies that help is at arm’s reach — there is always a friend / parent / college counsellor to hear them.

Beyond them is the professional counsellor who can take the affected on a permanent path of recovery.

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