Special Correspondent

Timely intervention needed to prevent suicides, say experts in psychology

COIMBATORE: Mental disorders such as schizophrenia, depression and those caused by substance abuse (alcohol and narcotics) should be identified early so that timely medical intervention is made to prevent suicides, experts in psychology have said on the eve of the World Mental Health Day on October 10.

Suicide was a preventable public health problem.

In many cases, suicide represented a tragic consequence of failing to recognise and treat severe mental illness, Chief of Psychological Medicine at Kovai Medical Center and Hospital (KMCH) D. Srinivasan said.

Emotional impact

"Suicide and suicide attempts have serious emotional consequences for families and friends. The burden of bereavement by suicide can have a profound and lasting emotional impact for family members."

Professor of Psychiatry at the Coimbatore Medical College D. Pradeep said a vast majority of mentally ill persons might not end their lives by committing suicide.

But, a recent finding indicated that a majority of those who died by suicide had some connection with labelled mental disorders and this correlation could not be overlooked. Some of the mental disorders (such as those mentioned above) carried the risk of suicide. One is forced to acknowledge the need for early recognition and effective intervention, he said.

Awareness

The World Federation of Mental Health had chosen "Building Awareness- Reducing Risk: Mental Illness and Suicide" as the theme for this year's observance.

Dr. Srinivasan, who was also the Director of Kasturba Gandhi De-Addiction and Suicide Prevention Centre, said that approximately one million people across the world committed suicide every year, making it an important public health problem in many countries.

Leading cause

It was the leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults. Besides, suicide attempts were estimated to be 10 to 20 times more than that of the suicide deaths.

All suicide attempts, regardless of the extent of injury, were indications of severe emotional stress, unhappiness or mental illness or both.

Warning signs

Dr. Srinivasan said in a release that his department at the KMCH and the de-addiction centre had organised events to call for greater understanding and action regarding suicide and mental illness.

Programmes for a year would be held in schools and colleges to create awareness about warning signs of depression.

Dr. Pradeep says: "When we find a person deviating from his usual behaviour and turns quite shabby and less concerned about the environment, becomes irritable or less adjusting, fault finding, abusive or suspicious of others without evident reasons or indulges in alcohol or ganja abuse, we are to get cautious."

There is no point in waiting for problems to peak because the calamity might be irreparable, Dr. Pradeep says.

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