By Danuska da Gama | NT BUZZ
Suicide is a tragic act and the yellow ribbon that has come to symbolize World Suicide Prevention Day came out of one such tragic act.
The Yellow Ribbon program was founded in 1994 by the parents and friends of a bright, funny, loving teen called Mike Emme, who was fondly called Mike Mustang by friends because he was as bright and cheerful as the bright yellow Mustang he drove. As well wishers gathered to comfort the family stories of Mike’s various compassionate and considerate deeds emerged and those gathered, and his parents, realised just how many lives this loving teenager, who himself was unable to ask for help in his moment of despair, had touched.
As they explored what they themselves might be able to do to prevent this type of tragedy, someone looked up, saw a bright yellow Mustang on one of the T-shirts, and the Yellow Ribbon Project was born.
Yellow in memory of Mike and his cherished ’68 Yellow Mustang, yellow in memory of the many many lives he had touched through his helping nature, yellow as reminder that such tragedies can be prevented.
For someone who has no experience or is not experiencing the despair that comes with depression it is difficult to understand both the extreme pain they suffer and the feeling of suffocation that builds with them because life no longer seems to offer solutions. And this lack of insight into a depressed mind results in a lack of understanding about what drives such people to take the extreme step.
“Most people who commit suicide don’t want to die – they just want to stop feeling the hurt”, says psychiatrist and director of COOJ Peter Castelinho, who strongly believes that suicide prevention starts with recognising the warning signs and by paying serious attention to them. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings instead of being afraid can save a life, he says, adding, “A person who contemplates committing suicide may not ask for help, but that doesn’t mean help isn’t wanted.”
Thankfully, there is increasing awareness that suicide is preventable and all over India and the world there are organisations doing their bit to educate the larger public about the same while doing their bit to reach out to people harbouring suicidal thoughts.
In Goa, we have Cause Of Our Joy (COOJ), an organisation that works towards suicide prevention. To mark World Suicide Prevention Day, COOJ kick started the Go Yellow programme on August 15, which will conclude on September 10.
The sole aim of the Go Yellow program is to raise awareness about suicide prevention in Goa. The idea is to educate people about the fact that suicide is preventable if assistance is sought and delivered in time. Workshops were conducted to dispel myths surrounding suicide, to educate people about warning signs and risk factors and ways to deal with suicide ideation, what to do in a crisis, and finally to make people aware of sources of help like the COOJ Helpline number 2252525 which is available from Monday to Friday between 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“The reason behind conducting such workshops is to provide an enabling environment that can help resolve the problem to a great extent”, says Castelinho explaining how the training provided will be useful in identifying warning signs of suicide. The society has to realise that individuals matter and that it is a collective responsibility to bring back hope into the lives of people.
Go Yellow to Save a Life
By Danuska da Gama | NT BUZZ