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    SUICIDE : MYTHS & FACTS

    Psychiatrist Harish Shetty gives us the low-down on what could drive a loved one to self-destruction and how you can help.

    Model Viveka Babajee’s recent death again thows up the fallacies around suicides. With models Nafisa Joseph and Kuldeep Randhawa taking their lives in a similar manner a few years ago, a trend is apparent. Psychiatrist Harish Shetty clears some misconceptions about what drives a person to take his or her own life and what can help.

    Myth: Those who talk about attempting suicide are less likely to act.

    Fact: People who threaten to take their lives are more prone to attempt it than those who do not. Hence do not take these as empty threats and challenge them.

    Myth: Those who have attempted once learn from their mistakes and are less likely to attempt.

    Fact: Those with previous unsuccessful suicide attempts are more likely to attempt than others in the future.

    Myth: Suicidal attempts in families will dissuade relatives from doing the same when in emotional turmoil.

    Fact: S uicidal behaviour can be seen in families across generations as depression can run in families and is genetic.

    Myth: Only those who are mentally ill are prone to suicide.

    Fact: Those who are mentally ill are more prone to suicide but those without any mental illness may also be driven to it following situations such as a sudden financial loss, sudden discovery of a fatal illness, failure in exams, etc.

    Myth: Strong minds and confident people never attempt suicide. Only weak minds do.

    Fact: Strong minds do not exist. Each on of us can suffer from sadness and depression, and attempt suicide, though some are definitely more vulnerable than others.

    Myth: Only intelligent people attempt suicide; whereas religious people do not.

    Fact: Anyone can attempt suicide irrespective of their intelligence or affinity to god.

    Myth: A suicide attempt is aimed at manipulating/ threatening others and should be punished harshly.

    Fact: An act of self-harm can be a cry for help and should be tackled sensitively.

    Myth: A weak attempt of suicide should be treated at home and secrecy should be maintained to preserve the self-esteem of the person

    Fact: A medical doctor should treat all attempts at a hospital with the help of a psychiatrist/counsellor. The details of the attempt need to be verified for an appropriate treatment.

    Myth: Suicide attempts should be hushed up and treated by close friends and relatives.

    Fact: Suicide attempts should be always informed to the police and a psychiatrist/counsellor’s examination will help treat the cause and prevent further attempts. Friends, relatives can assist in the treatment.

    Myth: Those who consume addictive substances share their pain and are less likely to take their own life.

    Fact: Alcoholics are 100 times more likely to attempt suicide than others.

    Myth: Those who intend to commit suicide never reveal their plans.

    Fact: Many adults talk about it with their family doctor. Children and teens often discuss it with their friends and peers, though not everyone is open about it.

    Myth: Educational institutes are always responsible for student suicides.

    Fact: Educational institutes may not always be responsible for all suicides, but the rate can be reduced by the presence of counselling and mental health facilities. Ignoring student mental health is simply psychological negligence.

    Myth: Faculty members in colleges are equipped to provide counselling.

    Fact: Not all faculty members may be trained. Some need to be sensitised and trained to be emotional aid workers.

    Myth: Suicides are a result of bad parenting and lack of adequate mental health care for high risk children.

    Fact: Bad parenting cannot be blamed in every case, though lack of awareness and refusal of mental health care may be a cause. Collateral negligence is when parents refuse to get help in spite of advice from all quarters.

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