Lifeline cuts down suicide cases

By Naomi N Published on Apr 18, 2017 04:25 PM IST

Chennai: Until 2004, Tamilnadu witnessed a number of students ending their lives after the board exam results were announced each year.

The victims were mostly students who expected high marks and did not meet the expectations of their family / school or the ones who failed in papers by a few marks.

With efforts from Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre, Tamilnadu became the first to introduce supplementary exams in 2004, later other States followed suit.

It has been a long and difficult journey for Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre, from struggling to get a place on rent to run the centre - as landlords didn't know what kind of people will be coming in - it has entered into the 32nd year of service dissuading nearly four lakh people from ending their lives.

Speaking to News Today, founder, Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre, Lakshmi Vijayakumar, said, "The organisation touches 4 lakh lives through counselling over phone and in person. A majority of them were emotionally distressed and faced inter-personal problems. Each day, the centre receives an average of 30-40 calls. Children as young as seven to 89-year-olds have reached out to us. In some instances, people have consumed tablets and walked into our centre, some of them pop the pills and call us over phone. Our volunteers do a good job in helping them out."

In the city, Sneha has become a light at the end of the tunnel to anyone with fleeting thoughts of ending their life, the success of which, Lakshmi says, is the confidentiality they maintain. "I wouldn't want to discuss any cases we have dealt with, because we promised them confidentiality. We are also non-religious and non-political."

Talking about how people take to social media platforms such as Facebook to livecast their suicides, Lakshmi said, "Somehow, in a suicide, 'another person' is always involved. In the victim's mind, a portion of his/her conscience is filled with anger, rejection and the thought that he doesn't belong here. They want the 'other person' to know how much s/he has caused hurt. Nowadays, people are more comfortable with virtual communication so they post it online and it has an impact on thousands of viewers."

IN STATS

* India saw an increase of 17.5 per cent in the number of suicides in 2015, compared to 2005. The number of suicides in India, which had shown a declining trend between 2012-2014, once again recorded an increase of 1.5 per cent in 2015 (courtesy NCRB).

* Tamilnadu has the dubious distinction of having the second highest number of suicides in the country from 2013-2015. In 2015 alone, 15,777 people committed suicide in the State.

* Suicide rate (number of suicides per lakh population) in Tamilnadu is 22.8 and 43.2 in Puducherry.

* Depression, which is caused due to bio-psycho-socio / environmental factors, is also a causative factor. Out of 100 people, five suffer from depression.