About 800,000 deaths are caused annually because of suicide. This means that one person commits suicide every 40 seconds; many more attempt suicide, making it the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally. 90% of people who commit suicide are afflicted by some mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Depression is the number one cause for suicide and therefore it is important to spread awareness about how to identify and prevent suicide.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) identified depression as the leading cause of ill-health and disability worldwide. According to a study there has been an increase of more than 18% in the number of people suffering from depression between 2005 and 2015.
The issue of depression and suicide was once again brought to attention after a recent controversy involving YouTuber Logan Paul. The vlogger faced widespread criticism after he filmed what seems to have been the body of a person who had hanged himself from a tree. This controversy sparked a dialogue about the need for awareness and prevention of suicide after the YouTuber posted an apology video followed by a more tasteful video talking about suicide prevention.
Earlier in 2017 the popular Netfix TV show, 13 Reasons Why also initiated a conversation about suicide. This show chronicled the life of Hannah Baker and the reasons that led her to commit suicide. As a response to this, one school system decided to create an awareness campaign titled “13 Reasons Why Not” focusing on overcoming life’s challenges. The campaign starts on February 5 and will include videos, podcasts and resources posted on the Houston County District website at www.hcbe.net.
Widespread efforts have been made to spread awareness about depression. The WHO celebrates World Heath Day on April 7 and the theme for it in 2017 was depression whereby the WHO gave certain guidelines to combat depression. Here are some steps to deal with depression and prevent suicide provided by Dr John Draper, Director of the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Initiating a dialogue – The first step is to ask the concerned individual if s/he is depressed and is contemplating harming him/herself.
- Listening – The next step is to create a safe space whereby the person in question can feel comfortable to talk about his/her problems. It is important to listen without judgement and be sympathetic and understanding.
- Provide a support system – It is important to be present and be there for the person suffering so that they can depend on you and feel safe and wanted.
- Getting Professional help – It is necessary to get the aid of a professional therapist or a psychiatrist to help deal with the illness.
- Checking in – Finally it is important to keep a track of the person’s progress by enquiring about their condition and by providing non-judgemental companionship.
Depression manifests itself on the biological, psychological and social level and therefore the treatment should also include all three aspects of the illness. Most doctors try treating depression with medicine but that is not sufficient to combat this crippling illness. It is important to undergo counselling and have a strong social safety net for a person to effectively deal with his/her depression. It is therefore necessary to spread awareness about the illness among the masses in order to effectively deal with this condition.