SUICIDE PREVENTION IN THE TIMES OF COVID-19

Dr. Sneha Sharma

COVID-19 crisis has hit the world head on. While the countries are coming to terms with the immediate short term health crisis, one can see the looming long-term psychological impact this pandemic can have. Psychological well being is intricately connected to the social environment and any uncertainty in economic and social order of the world often leads to grave psychological consequences. The ripples of what is yet to come can be gauged as the cases of suicide related to COVID-19 seem to be on a rise. Robust public mental health measures will have a larger role to play in averting this unfathomable danger.

The risk of suicide rises during a pandemic due to multiple factors ranging from isolation and loneliness, psychological distress of the uncertainty, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, those facing moral and ethical dilemmas working on the frontline as resources become scarce, and the economic slowdown leading to practical problems like poverty, homelessness and unemployment.

As we wait for the public resources of be mobilised in this direction , at an individual level much can be done by recognising suicide warning sign in self and those around and to seek appropriate and timely help.

Recognising Suicide warning signs:

If a person talks about:

  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped
  • Experiencing unbearable pain
  • Having no reason to live
  • Killing themselves

Look out for following behaviour :a

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means
  • Acting recklessly
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions/ writing will
  • Aggression

People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:

  • Depression
  • Loss of interest
  • Rage
  • Irritability
  • Humiliation
  • Anxiety

How to help :

  1. Ask directly if they are feeling suicidal.
  2. Listen non-judgementally
  3. Ensure safe environment by removing potentially lethal items like blades, knives, ropes, firearms.
  4. Give reassurance
  5. Encourage them to seek help
  6. Inform appropriate support systems
  7. Stay connected after the crisis

Suicide helplines active in India :

Sneha Foundation India (+914424640050)

Vandrevala Foundation (18602662345)

Roshni (+914066202000) 

Cooj (+918322252525)

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