Suicide awareness: How to spot warning signs, experts explain

Suicide awareness: How to spot warning signs, experts explain
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  • World Suicide Prevention Day is observed on September 10 every year to raise awareness about suicide and way to help prevent it.
  • As we mark International Suicide Prevention Day today, Business Insider spoke to mental health experts about different signs that indicate suicidal tendencies or if a person is in urgent need of professional help.
  • If you or someone you know needs help, contact 18005990019, a toll-free helpline which helps people in distress and has professionals to help resolve issues.
Nearly eight lakh people die because of suicide every year. That is an average of one person every 40 seconds, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Suicide cases are the second leading cause of death in youth. And in India, the unattended mental health issues and the stigma attached to it makes the situation worse.

India has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Data shows that at least one student committed suicide every hour last year across the country. And it is not just students, disturbing news about people taking this decision due to job loss, frustration, and even due to lack of access to games have been doing the rounds.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), suicide cases among daily wage earners is also on the rise. The COVID-19 pandemic is making things even worse. Coronavirus has triggered anxiety, fear, frustration, sadness and loneliness among people — to the extent that those feelings become constant and overwhelming.

As we mark International Suicide Prevention Day today, Business Insider spoke to mental health experts about different signs that show whether a person is suicidal or in need of professional help urgently.

Indifferent attitude towards mental health is the biggest barrier.


Mental illness is more common than we think. And the disorders range in severity, but many remain unaware or may choose not to seek help. Mental health expert Prakriti Poddar believes that people think of mental health only when it reaches a stage that affects our well-being.

“Your brain is a part of your body - we should treat mental health in that perspective. Mental illness can cause many physical symptoms, such as one who is suffering from insomnia can experience heart palpitations or fatigue but it is likely that the doctor may rule out depression, anxiety or other mental conditions as a potential cause,” said Prakriti Poddar, Director Poddar Wellness Ltd, Managing Trustee Poddar Foundation.

Suicide warning signs:

These are the ten signs that warn about suicide, according to Dr. Jyoti Kapoor, Senior Consultant- Psychiatry, Paras Hospital Gurgaon -

1.Recurrent feelings of hopelessness or helplessness/ death wish
2. Feeling life has no meaning or purpose/ existential crisis
3. Frequent mood swings/ mood lability like crying
4. Anger, irritability, loss of emotional control
5. Increase in use of alcohol, drugs
6. Loss of interest in activities one used to enjoy
7. Withdrawal from people, friends, family
8. Past history of suicide attempt or self-harm behaviour
9. Recurrent suicidal ideas, urge to check about suicidal behaviour, preoccupation with death, methods of ending life, preoccupation with people/celebrities who committed suicide.
10. Para suicidal behaviour- deliberately indulging in high-risk behaviour like overdosing, not eating, eating foods that have specifically been asked to avoid, irresponsible sexual activities, self-demeaning activities.

Impulsivity — the idea that death may be better than pain — is the highest risk factor in suicide.

How can you help?

“One of the best ways to help people is to take them to a professional who can use an evidence-based therapy such as "Dialectical Behaviour therapy" that is proven in helping them find a life that is less painful and more worth living,” says Radhika Bapat, Clinical Psychotherapist.

WHO recommends four key interventions to prevent suicide —

  • Restricting access to means.
  • Working with the media to ensure responsible reporting of suicide.
  • Helping young people develop skills to cope with life’s pressures.
  • Early identification and management of people who are thinking about suicide or who have made a suicide attempt, keeping follow-up contact in the short and longer-term.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or have recently thought of harming yourself please get help. You can contact 18005990019 which helps people in distress and has professionals to help you resolve issues.

SEE ALSO: What India’s rising COVID-19 infections don’t⁠ reveal — the lack of health infrastructure in remote areas