Sunday, March 21, 2010

Life is to live

Open any newspaper and you would find at least one or two news item about a suicide taking place in the city. There is a long list of people from a newly wed bride to a student appearing in exam, farmer struggling to make both ends meet to a debt ridden carpenter, lovers separated by parents to an executive working for a BPO committing suicide on any given day. Bangalore has a distinct Suicidal Capital tag along with Garden city and IT/BT tag. Nearly 2000 suicides per 1 lac of population takes place every year in this city and this is increasing at an alarming rate of 8% every year. To top it all, this just an official figure where as several cases of suicide goes unreported to the police and the press due to social stigma attached with it and sometimes stature/ izzat  of family comes in the way.
Suicidal tendency or an attempt to commit suicide is a cry for help needing attention. For some it may be a gesture of aggressive intent but the fact is that it stems from hopelessness. The purpose of suicide attempt may not be intent to die but it’s a response to fear. Fear of shame, guilt, family and society at large. Studies have found that 90% suicides take place in lower and middle economic group in the age group of 15 to 45 years, men to women ratio being 1.4:1.
 The main cause of action can be a single or multiple –
-Failing/prolonged illness
-Family problem- dispute, break ups. Diminishing family support in Urban area due migration for living.
-Financial problem, loss, Poverty.
-Marriage discord, break up in relationship, dowry demands.
-Frustration, guilt, humiliation.
-Alcoholic/drug addict.
-Pressure, competition, over ambition, unrealistic goals in studies/ jobs.
Adolescents are at a particular vulnerable stage in their lives. They are hyper sensitive, feel insecure and having low esteem especially during the examination time. Stress and depression happen to everyone in some or the other way. Depression is a medical condition under which a person sometimes is not able to share his problems with those around him for fear of neglect or rejection. 5% of population suffers depression at a given point of time and 15% of persons under depression commit suicide.
Depressed mood, loss of interest, guilt feeling, loss of concentration in studies or at work place, disturbed sleep, negative feelings, Sense of hopelessness or not wanted by any one, loss of self esteem, and self harm in aggression are some of the main features pointing towards a person undergoing depression. Under such circumstances, people around such a person (family members or friend) should never be critical or judgmental towards them. At this juncture, active listening, empathy, understanding the emotional problem and exploring the alternatives and suggestions to over come the situation is of utmost importance. However in most cases, such a response from family/ friends does not come easily and the affected person goes in to deep depression. And here comes the role of a counselor and psychiatrist. Counseling requires tremendous effort and skill to be a non critical, non judgmental listener. The process involves helping a person to help himself. Through counseling, the affected person comes in touch with his underlying emotions and feelings. Over a period of time, the person moves from a position of hopelessness to HOPE, hope of living. However in extreme cases, medical intervention is needed through psychotherapy.
SAHAI (Phone No. 25497777) in Bangalore is one of the few dedicated ‘Suicide prevention  telephonic help lines’ in India and first in Karnataka to help those who are feeling low, depressed, unwanted and need some one to listen to and share their problems. Started in October 2002 with the joint initiative of Rotary Club Bangalore east, NIMHANS and Medical Pastoral Association (MPA) , this helpline has helped save the lives of scores of people under depression or having suicidal tendency by counseling them over telephone as well as face to face interaction. This helpline is manned by a team of dedicated volunteers from all walks of life who have been trained by experts from NIMHANS to handle the distress calls. The services are free and callers are assured of total confidentiality and anonymity. The helpline functions from 10 am to 8 pm (except Sunday) with the option of leaving message during off time. So here is a helpline just a call away. (Website:
Problems, stress and depression are all part of our life and let not them override your emotions. Manage your emotions in a positive manner because Life is to Live.


  1. timely help can surely help ...minds change so fast...and unfortunately there is no chance to repent.
    good write up...hope some soul in need reads it

  2. It's an excellent article. A positive outlook is very important to deal with the problem.

  3. Thank you Nalini & Lipika. Please spread the SAHAI helpline phone number.

  4. Ppl with suicidal tendencies are desperately seeking help. All they need is someone who can listen to them and offer compassion. Thanks fr the number.

  5. The article is good, but what I would like to add is that for depression and suicide to take place, all the factors that you have mentioned---illness, family problems, disputes, addictions, financial problems etc---are all triggers, rather than the cause. The cause for suicides (and severe depression) is that many brain chemicals and neurotransmitters, esp one called Serotonin, are present in reduced amounts in the brains of those who commit suicide. This is because of genetic reason. When such a person who has a reduced chemical level in the brain is faced with any of the triggers that you have mentioned, there is a high chance that because this chemical which keeps his thinking rational and logical is missing, he or she might go ahead and do something illogical or stupid like suicide. While it definitely helps for family members to keep a watch on potential suicide victims and to take them to a counsellor, if the level of chemicals is really low, it cannot be increased by these measures alone. Such people will benefit from seeing a psychiatrist and taking medicines, which are actually chemicals which normalize brain neurotransmitter levels. Once the person becomes a bit rational or logical with medicines, it becomes easier to counsel him and knock some sense into him.

    The triggers that you have mentioned exist for a vast majority of mankind, including most of us. But we dont commit suicide, not because we are great or more intelligent, but because nature has blessed us with a normal level of chemicals.

    Borderline cases can be definitely saved by counselling and by suicide helplines. But severe cases will not listen to counselling and will never pick up the phone and call the help lines. These are the ones we must somehow catch and protect

  6. Thanks a lot Doctor for elaborating and explaining difference between Triggers and main causes. I am enlightened.

  7. Very good post. Dr Vaidyanathan's detailed explanation is excellent guidance for people who want to take care of potential victims.

  8. Wonderful article. I shall link to this post when I plan to write something on similar lines. Timely explanation by Dr. Vaidyanathan as well. Thank you so much for being part of this great helpline to save a number of depressed lives.

  9. It is heartening that mental health is being taken seriously now. Am glad to know u r part of an org helping ppl.

    I need info about rights of mentally unstable people and some NGO who deal with it in New Delhi, if u cud help please.