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Preventing suicide: ‘We must take better care of the people around us’

  • Published at 12:26 am May 9th, 2018
  • Last updated at 12:29 am May 9th, 2018
Preventing suicide: ‘We must take better care of the people around us’
Suicides are often associated with the feeling of utter helplessness and seeing no way out of a difficult situation. People who attempt or die by suicide often have “tunnel vision” and do not realize that there is more to life than the problem at hand. Society and families often exacerbate the situation, enforcing the wrong ideas at the wrong time. Consider the case of Farazul, who died by suicide on Sunday after he was rebuked by his family for his results. Every SSC candidate faces incredible pressure from society. Being unable to meet these artificial demands, and then being subjected to negative reinforcement from the family contributes to suicide attempts. It is imperative that people not be shamed for not conforming to constructed expectations. Facing aggression and unkindness can ultimately drive a person to suicide. We should exercise caution when interacting with the people around us, especially children.

What can families do to prevent suicide?

The website of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) outlines several ways in which suicide can be prevented. According to the site, the focus of supportive therapy should be the provision of hope for the future, the enhancement of independence, and the learning of different ways of coping with the inevitable stressors of everyday life. A person may exhibit certain warning signs of suicide if they are indeed considering it. These could be avoiding friends, activities, school and social events, unexpected outbursts of anger or crying, severe behaviour change - for example, a quiet person becoming unusually active or an outgoing person becoming withdrawn. When a family member starts to behave unusually, other members of the family should pay attention and address the issue with care. Therapy and medication may be considered to help someone overcome suicidal ideation. Dr Nafisa Huq, psychosocial counsellor at Monon Psychiatric Hospital and a member of the faculty at Independent University, Bangladesh, said: “Families should put less pressure and expectation on their children. Parents have to understand the capacity of the children. Children do not have the same stress management ability as adults. Children often feel the threat of shame if they do not meet the expectations of their parents; and indeed they are often shamed for not living up to it. Since they do not have any stress management skills, they cannot cope with the pressure imposed upon them.
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“Parents should be educated on child development. A good way to do this is to hold sessions and seminars at schools and invite parents to create awareness about how to treat children so they do not lean towards suicidal thoughts or tendencies. If awareness increases, it is possible that suicide rates will come down. If people are made to feel ashamed and helpless for not meeting the expectations of society, they will often respond with self-harm. We must take better care of the people around us.” According to the American Association of Suicidology, the suicide of a loved one can have a profound and sometimes devastating impact on those left behind (often referred to as “suicide survivors”). Bereavement after suicide may entail increased sentiments of guilt, regret, anger, and even trigger trauma. Survivors also find their social relationships altered, as they struggle with social stigma. Survivors may also be at risk for elevated rates of complicated grief and future suicidal tendencies themselves. Consider the case of Linkin Park vocal Chester Bennington’s death by suicide on the birthday of one of his close friends – Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell. Chester’s method of suicide was identical to Cornell’s, underlining the need of concern for survivors. The suicide of a loved one is a potentially life-transforming experience which requires a level of support that often goes beyond traditional grief counselling.

How can society support a grieving family?

Regarding the matter, Dr Nafisa Huq said: “First of all, society should not criticize or blame the family after a death as the family members are already grieving the loss of a loved one. There is nothing you can do to console a family that has gone through such an incident. When a person has died by suicide, the damage is done. As a society, we should focus on prevention instead. We can advise the people around us to be polite and compassionate, especially towards children. People can learn a great deal by attending training sessions or self-education.”