THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Public health experts feel that the coronavirus pandemic is sparking suicides along with it. They are of the assessment that suicides have snowballed into a serious public health problem in the state. To address it they demand a comprehensive multi-sectoral suicide prevention strategy. Meanwhile, the health department says that a campaign 'Jeevaraksha' is on the anvil, which will focus on suicide prevention.
"One thing is clear- suicides are going to become a public health issue in the state. Except for the stats of 66 children committing suicides since March 25, official details on the suicide rate since the pandemic broke out in the state are yet to come out. It might be frightening," said an official of the health department.
According to the official, though the health impact of Covid-19 is being widely discussed, the implication of the virus spread on the socio-economic status of a person is not being considered seriously. Overlooking this issue triggers suicide tendency in a person.
"That might be one side of the coin. But social isolation is what we have to look for as it drives suicide tendency. A strategy must be there to manage and identify self-destructive distress and anxiety. However the root cause for the same differs among individuals," said Dr T Sagar of Mental Health Centre, Thiruvananthapuram.
"All are talking about this new normal induced by the pandemic. One such issue is asking some people to isolate themselves and stay away from others. Though it's to protect them, many can't take it and proceed to make a final exit plan," he said.
The mind game of positive and negative
At the same time, mental health experts opine that those who test positive for Covid-19 immediately fall into negative thoughts and thereby to acute depression.
"There are many such cases. One major reason is the thought of not having a vaccine for the disease. For many, medicine is the only cure for a disease. They overlook the role of mental strength in curing a disease. For others it is social ostracisation or even suspicious glances or rude remarks," said an official associated with psycho-social support initiative.
Dr Abraham Varghese, state president, IMA, said: "Though social distancing will have to be practised, there should never be such a thing like mental distancing. For that everyone should ensure that they are connected." He also added that using the isolation time for sharpening one's creativity will help the people from venturing into self-destructive thoughts.
However, Dr Anant Bhan, who works on issues of bioethics, global health and policy at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, told TNIE that an upward trend in suicides is most likely to happen because of the stress and anxiety caused by Covid-19 induced uncertainty, lockdown and economic fallouts. In the case of children, Bhan said that it might be a result of the inability to meet friends, attend online classes or the possibility of increasing abuse at home.
Meanwhile, health department remained tightlipped on the details of 'Jeevaraksha' campaign
(If you are having suicidal thoughts, or are worried about a friend or need emotional support, someone is always there to listen. Call Sneha Foundation - 04424640050 (available 24x7) or iCall, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences' helpline - 02225521111, which is available Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 10 pm.)