It is necessary to help them get through the bad patch
CHENNAI: Parveen, by not being able to speak, made a huge impact at Kalaivanar Arangam on Thursday morning. She rasped in near whispers that only her interpreter Akilandeswari could hear, and yet the entire auditorium was rapt in attention.
The 1000-odd people who had gathered there were listening keenly to what Parveen the “survivor” was saying through her interpreter, also a survivor: “Do not ever attempt suicide. I drank acid because of some personal problems. But it is just not worth it.” She has just been able to regain the ability to eat and talking is probably a few months away. Her rasp, at the moment, is sufficient to convey the depth of her regret, her gratitude for surviving, and her conviction that no one should suffer her fate.
This set the tone for the event organised together by the medical and surgical gastroenterology departments of the Government General Hospital on the occasion of World Suicide Prevention Day. September 10 is being observed as Suicide Prevention Day as an initiative for the International Association for Suicide Prevention and is co-sponsored by the World Health Organisation. This year’s theme is ‘Suicide Prevention in Different Cultures.’
A large proportion of suicides result from consuming pesticides and bathroom cleaning agents because of their easy availability in our country, S.M. Chandramohan, head of Surgical Gastroenterology, MMC, explained. A number of people who had drunk acid to commit suicide had been rehabilitated by hospitals in the government sector and are now leading normal lives. They are now keen on spreading the message of suicide prevention, he added.
Health Secretary V.K. Subburaj said Chennai had an important place in the Suicide Prevention Day as Lakshmi Vijayakumar of Sneha, the suicide prevention helpline took posters printed here to the first such event in Stockholm. There are a reported 1.20 lakh suicides in India annually, he added. However, the problem was much larger as only one in 20 people who attempt suicide die. Stress is a major factor that pushes one to suicide, especially today, but it is necessary to help them get through the bad patch.
The government had certain interventions in place, Mr. Subburaj said. For instance, since examination failures was a major cause of suicide attempts, the government had made it possible for those who fail board examinations to repeat the exams within a month. Almost 50 per cent of those who take the test again manage to pass, he said. The reason why farmers suicides was low in Tamil Nadu was because of pro-active measures taken by the government, Health Minister M.R.K. Panneerselvam said. The state also intended to start mental health institutes in every district in the State and facilities to provide counselling for those under stress, he added. Referring to patients’ responses thanking doctors who gave them a fresh lease of life, the Minister said the government sector had some of the finest facilities for rehabilitation after an attempt.
GH Dean J. Mohanasundaram urged the medicos and nursing students to spread the message of suicide prevention to others. Mohammed Ali, head, Medical Gastroenterology department; C. Rajendran, Director of Internal Medicine; and R. Satianathan, director, Institute of Mental Health clarified questions raised by members of the audience on various aspects related to suicide prevention.