By: Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
10th September is observed as World Suicide Prevention Day. It was established in 2003 by the International Association for Suicide Prevention in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO). Suicide is continuously talked about the subject in our society. The main focus to observe the day is to focus attention on the issue, reduces stigma and raises awareness among organizations, government, and the public, giving a singular message that suicide can be prevented. Suicide is voluntary, taking a person’s own life. Suicide is defined as death caused by self-directed injurious behaviour with intent to die as a result of the behaviour.
Nearly 3000 people on average commit suicide daily, according to WHO. For every person who completes a suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end their lives. Relatives and close friends of people who die by suicide are a high-risk group for suicide. Suicide occurs across all age, economic, social, ability, racial, gender and ethnic boundaries. Suicides can be difficult to understand; especially when we are unaware a person is struggling. It is estimated that around 700,000 people a year take their life around the world. For every suicide, there are likely 20 other people making a suicide attempt and many more have serious thoughts of suicide. Millions of people suffer intense grief or are otherwise profoundly impacted by suicidal behaviours. Although suicide is a deeply personal and an individual act, suicidal behaviour is determined by a number of individual and social factors. Suicide can occur among all age groups, but it is most commonly seen among teenagers and young adults. When a person attempts suicide, this isn’t necessarily a sign that they want to die. Instead, it’s an indicator that they are in great emotional pain, but don’t know how to deal with it.
According to Article 21 of the Indian constitution, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by the law”. While the constitution covers the right to life or liberty, it does not include the ‘right to die’. Studies says that the frequent occurrence of suicide pacts and family suicides, which are more due to social reasons and can be viewed as a protest against archaic societal norms and expectations. Suicide rates were also up among daily wage earners, businesspersons, and those in the farm sector. More than 1.5 lakh people died by suicide across India in 2020. Poverty, unemployment, debts and educational problems are also associated with suicide. More than 90% of people who are suicidal or commit suicide to suffer from mental illness. Suicide is especially a critical factor in our society during the ongoing pandemic. People who suffer from depression or have genetic vulnerability have more tendency to act on their suicidal thoughts.
In our country attempted suicide is a punishable offence. Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code states that “whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such an offense shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with a fine or with both”.
Depression and suicide are rampant in today’s time and is a growing issue of concern. There is much that friends and family members can do to help people who are depressed or contemplating suicide. Depression is an illness that pushes a person to commit self-harm or even commit suicide. There is an urgent need to develop a national plan for suicide prevention in India. People who are suffering from deteriorating illnesses, therefore, must visit a mental health specialist. Suicide is a serious problem and any suicide threat or attempt should be taken seriously. (The author is a freelance journalist, writer & cartoonist. He can be reached at email@example.com)