Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day – time for some introspection

With the alarming statistics emanating from Sri Lanka relating to suicides, it is time for us to seriously take some real action in strengthening the mental health of this nation.

I believe I am not incorrect in saying that everyone, at some point in their lives will become suicidal, due to a foreseen or unforeseen occurrence, and it is the duty of others around to try and give support and comfort to get us out of that state. Of course there is a line on a continuum that people suffer from so some are more prone to depression and suicidal thoughts than others and it is a continuing issue that as a society we must be able to face in a matter of fact way.

What I mean by matter of fact, is that there are the obvious people we can call without fear or embarrassment if we feel depressed, as we know they will give us some comfort to get over the thoughts of hopelessness that arise from this state of mind.

It is to the credit of the Samaritans, and the Sri Lankan version, Sumithrayo, that we do in fact have a support mechanism if only the people across the spectrum know of its existence and also of it being accessible to all 24/7 for the people it serves.

For a society like Sri Lanka to reduce their suicide rate, especially amongst the youth, it is important we are able to figure out what is the problem in our inherent culture that leads people to commit suicide, and how do we prevent unnecessary loss of life owing to it.

Suicide is not one that chooses between rich or poor, or other social markers, so we must try and understand if we have some societal behavioral norms if crossed lead people to take their own lives. I am not here to analyze each and every one of these and suggest solutions, but to urge the medical profession to elevate psychiatry to an acceptable and affordable vocation with psychological counsellors who are trained at every divisional secretariat level to identify those most at risk and take preventive action.

It is also important that ALL schools have some people trained in Counselling students, and where students have a willing Counselor able to give advice that can help reduce the hopelessness that pressures of adolescence can induce in our society. I am only touching the surface of this problem, but believe resources MUST be put at this un sexy field to save our people from a wholly unnecessary final trap!   

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