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How to defeat suicide?

Suicide. A simple dictionary meaning tells you that it is a rather selfish act of taking one’s own life. But it’s much more than that. Every day you come across the news of people giving in to the act. It's time to deal with this unfortunate situation and take a step in the right direction.

Why do people commit suicide or think of committing suicide?
Risk factors for committing suicide include mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, alcoholism, substance misuse, and use of benzodiazepines.

Suicide can also be an impulsive act occurring due to stress arising from financial difficulties,  troubles, bullying, socioeconomic problems such as unemployment, poverty, homelessness, and discrimination.

Sexual abuse is also a major factor in instigating suicide. There also have been copycat suicides due to romanticisation of the act in media and movie portrayals.

Most suicides happen because of the unbearable pain that results from frustrated psychological needs. People tend to view suicide as a means to end their existence and pain. People who contemplate suicide see it as a way of wiping themselves from the world so that they and their problems disappear altogether.

Thoughts such as one being incompetent, worthless or unlovable, start crossing your minds. Family turmoil, occupational and interpersonal difficulties may add woes. For example, unemployed people could tend to look at suicide as a potential solution.

Negative emotions, pessimistic thoughts about the future, anger, depression, etc, drive suicidal thoughts.

Although people who consider suicide are dedicated to working towards it, it is not like they haven’t explored alternatives that could serve as a way out of the pain.

When people seek suicide, it places restrictions or impairs their thinking ability. Problem-solving becomes too hard to think about or act on.

People intending to commit suicide are painfully aware or believe that it is a means to escape the harsh realities of life.

People tend to have a pattern while coping with suicidal thoughts. If they haven’t sought help before, chances are that they might not seek help for their forthcoming suicidal attempts as well.

Who are at risk?

People diagnosed with depression, mental disorders, suffering from alcoholism, etc., have a higher chance of veering towards depression. Depression is a major factor in someone considering suicide.  Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcohol and other substance use, and severe personality problems can also make someone consider suicide.

How to know if someone is suicidal?

Interventions are necessary to prevent suicide and suicide attempts even if the other person doesn’t look they appreciate it. Look for these warning signs.

  • Mood swings, sadness, substance abuse, social withdrawal, talking about suicide.
  • Sudden loss of interest in activities that earlier attracted them.
  • Letting go of their prized possessions, indicating that they no longer mean anything to them.
  • Using phrases like, ‘Nobody understands me’, ‘People would be better off than me’, ‘I won’t be around anymore’ and such.
  • Finishing tasks for which they still have a lot of time for. For eg, writing a will.
  • Showing sudden interest in weapons assisting suicide such as sleeping pills, medication, arms, etc.
  • Signs of depression like visible changes in their sleep pattern, appetite, speaking (either becoming too quiet or speaking too rapidly).
  • Withdrawal from friends and family.
  • Fatigue or loss of energy.
  • Self-destructive behaviour like harming themselves physically, erratically consuming medication, etc.
  • Above all, a sudden sense of calm, indicating a life-threatening decision that has been made.

    Finally, what can you do to help someone who's suicidal.

Listen to them. Don't underplay their emotions or make light of statements like 'I am going to commit suicide', 'I feel like committing suicide', etc.

Don't promise confidentiality. You might have to reach out to their friends, family, etc, in case you see the situation going out of hand.

What to do if you feel suicidal?

  • Reach out to a trusted family member, counsellor, etc.
  • Don't be alone with yourself or your thoughts. Seek help.
  • Take heart in the fact that your troubles are temporary.
  • Align yourself for therapy - talk therapy, medication, counselling, etc, are part of the process.
  • Look for your triggers and seek remedy. Chemical imbalance in the brain is seen as the trigger that makes someone think of suicide. As a result, most psychiatrists prescribe anti-depressants as a first level of action.
  • Exercise well, ensure your eating and sleeping patterns don't go haywire.
  • Engage yourself in a job or activity to keep yourself distracted.


Above all, remember that you are not alone in this big wide world and help will always be given for those who ask for it.


Helpline nos in India: 022 2754 6669 (to speak in English/Hindi) / 044 2464 0050 (to speak in Tamil)

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