‘Pudu Yugam' action group to offer free counselling support

On January 26, a lady was profusely vomiting on roadside near the busy Goripalayam junction. Bearing the hot afternoon sun, she looked tired after pregnancy-related vomit with her anxious husband and an elderly woman on her side.

This mother in the making will be bearing such difficulty all through the pregnancy period till she delivers a baby. Just as this woman is in the process of giving life to a new creation, there was an important panel discussion taking place a few metres away on saving lives — prevention of suicides — in the city.

The participants were motivated to give their life and prevent people from taking their lives. Thanks to the appeal of suicide prevention and counselling centre ‘Pudu Yugam,' which is located at Corporation Maternity Hospital in Sellur here, a group of volunteers and experts swung into action to prevent people from committing suicides.

As the Tricolour was flying high on the Republic Day, a well-known mental health expert C. Ramasubramanian, popularly known as Dr. CRS, had chaired the panel discussion on suicide prevention and told them to do three interventions — counselling, prevention and awareness.

“Suicide affects not just one family. It is a social problem and anti-suicide campaign must become a movement in Madurai. Most of the suicides were committed by men and imagine the plight of dependant family members,” Dr. CRS said at the brainstorming meeting.

The objective of ‘Pudu Yugam' centre which was started in September 2010 was explained to the suicide prevention action group. It is a free counselling centre (phone:0452-2580011) taken up as an important activity under the government-supported District Mental Health Programme with an active participation of Madurai Institute of Social Sciences and M.S. Chellamuthu Trust.

There are various reasons that drive a person to kill himself. It could be due to economic causes, physical ailments or mental stress.

“This is not just a matter to end with one meeting. Let us have an action-oriented plan and come out with a ‘Madurai model' for suicide prevention. That model can be submitted to the Tamil Nadu Government, which is very keen on having mental health programmes at district level and more importantly in schools,” Dr. CRS, who is the State Coordinator for District Mental Health Programme, said in his presentation.

D. Janet Shankar, Coordinator of ‘Pudu Yugam' centre and Associate Professor at Madurai Institute of Social Sciences, in her report says that early identification and treatment for mentally disturbed persons (emotional crisis) get top priority. Referring the persons with psychiatric problems, identifying those who attempted suicide, those who are in depression and reasons for suicide thoughts are among the activities undertaken through the counselling centre.

One of the participants in panel discussion B. Vidya, a homoeopath practitioner, was very particular that school teachers have greater role to play than parents in emotion management because students spend most of the time with teachers.

“These days, teachers are friendly and they observe their students better. So, if they notice any changes they can intervene immediately. Let us have an action plan to give orientation teachers,” she suggested.

But another teacher volunteer said that the problem begins with parents and father-mother disharmony at home is found to be disturbing children. Involving of Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA) too was an idea put forth by volunteers.

Some disturbing statistics on suicides were circulated at the meeting. It is the third leading cause of death among youngsters aged 15 to 24. There is one suicide for every 150 attempts. Problems that trigger suicidal thoughts are death of parent, divorce of parents, step parent, ridiculed by classmates, alcohol abuse and bullying.

There was a common feeling among anti-suicide activists that the present location of ‘Pudu Yugam' at Sellur is not easily accessible and they urged the Madurai district administration to allot a place if possible near the Collectorate.

The spirit of first-level panel discussion on the Republic Day was summed up by senior clinical psychologist N. Nammalwar who said that people with good intention of helping various families have come together and it will succeed in having happy homes.

Schools, colleges and others who want to join suicide prevention movement in and around Madurai can contact Dr.Janet on her mobile number 97897-19172.