Suicide Prevention Is Everybody’s Responsibility


Suicide is an important issue in the Indian context. More than one lakh (one hundred thousand) lives are lost every year to suicide in our country. In the last two decades, the suicide rate has increased from 7.9 to 10.3 per 100,000. Suicide is a major public and mental health problem, which demands urgent action.

Although suicide is a deeply personal and an individual act, suicidal behavior is determined by a number of individual and social factors. According to the official data, the reason for suicide is not known for about 43% of suicides while illness and family problems contribute to about 44% of suicides.


The view that suicide cannot be prevented is commonly held even among health professionals. Many beliefs may explain this negative attitude. Chief among these is that suicide is a personal matter that should be left for the individual to decide. Another belief is that suicide cannot be prevented because its major determinants are social and environmental factors such as unemployment over which an individual has relatively little control. However, for the overwhelming majority who engage in suicidal behaviour, there is a probably an appropriate alternative resolution of the precipitating problems. Suicide is often a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Warning signs of suicide:

  • Sudden change in personality, increased pessimism
  • Person becomes withdrawn
  • Giving away of personal effects, valuables without reason
  • History of depression, psychiatric illness

Steps to reduce number of suicides

  • Creating awareness of suicidal behaviour, so that it can be recognised early
  • Limiting access to lethal pesticides and drugs
  • Early detection of mental health problems
  • Establishment of crisis intervention centres and suicide helplines
  • Help the person become strong enough to handle failure or loss.
  • Pay special attention to him and his needs.
  • Prevent social disintegration
  • Reduce social isolation

5 things to consider:

  • You need to hear that people do get through this
  • Give yourself some distance. Say to yourself, “I will wait 24 hours before I do anything.”
  • People often turn to suicide because they are seeking relief from pain. Remember that relief is a feeling. And you have to be alive to feel it.
  • Some people will react badly to your suicidal feelings, either because they are frightened, or angry; they may actually increase your pain instead of helping you, despite their intentions, by saying or doing thoughtless things.
  • But there are people out there who can be with you in this horrible time, and will not judge you, or argue with you, or send you to a hospital, or try to talk you out of how badly you feel.

Suicide is a multifaceted problem and hence suicide prevention programmes should also be multidimensional. Collaboration, coordination, cooperation and commitment are needed to develop and implement a national plan, which is cost-effective, appropriate and relevant to the needs of the community. In India, suicide prevention is more of a social and public health objective than a traditional exercise in the mental health sector. The time is ripe for mental health professionals to adopt proactive and leadership roles in suicide prevention and save the lives of thousands of young Indians.


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