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Suicide Prevention: starting the conversation


Department of Psychiatry, North Goa District Hospital, Mapusa organised a mental health programme titled ‘Love You Zindagi’ to commemorate World Suicide Prevention Day on Tuesday. The motto for the occasion was ‘Let’s work together to prevent suicide’.

Addressing the participants, senior psychiatrist Rajesh Dhume explained what ‘Love You Zindagi’ was all about and said that the programme is of the people, by the people and for the people. Initially incepted in Aurangabad, the programme has since moved to various states along with Goa.

He also stated that while there are celebrities such as Deepika Padukone who have openly spoken about depression, there are several who battle with mental illness in silence and are living examples of hope. “Depression is like diabetes and should be taken as seriously as a heart disease. People who suffer from depression suffer in silence and suffer alone,” he said.

Psychiatrist Saumitra Nemlekar spoke about the need to speak about mental illness. “If our mind is not healthy it disrupts our lives,” he said adding that it was only after he became a psychiatrist that he released the importance of asking people around him how they feel, and how listening can be a great way of preventing suicides.

Upon asking the audience how many people have contemplated suicide, a sizeable number of people, including doctors, nurses, and students raised their hands – which only goes to show that suicide can affect anyone who goes through life.

Nemlekar also mentioned the several suicide help lines in Goa. “Helping doesn’t require education, it requires listening and thus we should pay attention to the warning signs of suicide,” he stressed.

Suicide is 100 per cent preventable. And thus the warning signs should not be ignored. Depression is stated to be the second leading cause of death in the world especially affecting the productive age group.

A panel discussion followed, wherein Dhume spoke about his personal experience of being a doctor and facing depression twice. He emphasised that depression can affect anyone. Actor and professor Prashanti Talpankar spoke about her trying times and how despite being an outgoing person, depression set in. “I was put on medication and felt no one could understand what I was going through. I realised I could overcome it on my own with support, and humour worked for me,” she said.

Another patient suffering from depression explained how the symptoms manifested over time and that withdrawal from family and friends, crying, lack of appetite and other symptoms persisted for long, but were ignored. “I am not yet out of it, it breaks you down completely. You cant be normal among others, I hope to get back to being myself soon,” she said, before stating the she attempted suicide and is happy to have support system around her.

India ranks first in suicides and suicide attempts. Dhume also highlighted that for every suicide that takes place, there are 10 failed attempts which is an alarming concern. Depression could be a worldwide epidemic by 2030 if measures aren’t taken seriously.

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