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Updated: September 11, 2013 02:56 IST

High suicide rate spurs need for intervention programme

Kavita Kishore
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Pondicherry University, JIPMER collaborate to conduct a retrospective study on the causes and to come up with a plan to tackle the problem

The Union Territory’s high rate of suicide has prompted Pondicherry University and JIPMER to consider developing an intervention programme to potentially bring down the high rate of suicides in the Union Territory.

Their programme will include a retrospective study of the causes of suicides in the UT and to come up with a plan to tackle them.

Puducherry has one of the highest suicide rates in the country, and in the past five years it has been consistently in the top two States or UTs with high suicide rates, according to the Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India report published by the National Crime Records Bureau.

Most of these people are young, and in their productive age, i.e, between 20 and 40 years, Associate Professor of Psychiatry Ravi Phillip said.

Several of them are students, young husbands or wives and young women unable to take their domestic situations. One of the most common methods of suicide is use of organo phosphates and plant or vegetable toxins. These toxins are extremely dangerous, since patients’ complete recovery is difficult unless they come in at an early stage, he said.

It is for this reason that it is necessary to study the individual incidents of suicide and come up with an intervention programme based on retrospective data.

This will help identify trends and reasons for suicide in the UT, which will be a starting point to develop a strategy for the programme, Head of the Applied Psychology program at Pondicherry University Shibnath Deb explained. The main focus will be on students, especially in medical colleges, who face a high level of stress.

Among younger children, one of the most important causes of suicide is mental pressure because of perceived poor performance in examination. Across the country, six children a day attempt suicide because of academic pressure.

Another problem among younger people is ‘love failure’. Even in the university, there have been cases where students find that their love is not reciprocated, develop depression and take their life because of it.

Another important cause of suicides is alcoholism. Often, when one member of the family is an alcoholic, he/she is unable to recover from the addiction, which causes a number of social issues.

While many of the people who are treated for suicide attempts have an underlying mental illness, many others are grateful for the support that they have received in the hospital.

According to Director of JIPMER T.S. Ravikumar, who distributed pamphlets to his patients on preventing suicide on the occasion of World Suicide Prevention Day on Tuesday, JIPMER would be spending one-sixth of its budget for the School of Public Health on neurological and mental health. The aim was to ensure that the help provided to the society was proactive and not reactive.

They were looking at various methods used across the world and were developing it to suit JIPMER’s environs, so that they could create an effective programme for mental health. “Often, there is a stigma associated with mental illnesses. We are looking to ensure that the patients feel they are in a safe space, where they can come in and seek help just as if they were being treated for a heart attack or any other physical illness,” he said.

Till then, the onus would be to create a space where people would feel safe to approach a counsellor or medical social worker in order to spread the message among the public so that they know they have someone to fall back on when they have a problem. In this regard, they have now formed a counselling working group.

Currently, JIPMER runs a counselling programme at the Kendriya Vidyalaya at JIPMER and also a crisis prevention clinic where medical social workers schedule appointments with patients.

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