On World Suicide Prevention Day, let’s end the stigma around mental health


According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), almost eight lakh people commit suicide every year, which comes to one person every 40 seconds. There are many more who attempt suicide. The theme for this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day is ‘Working Together to Prevent Suicide.’ Previous years had themes like ‘Connect, Communicate, Care’ (2016) and ‘Take a Minute, Change a Life’ (2017).

Suicide is also the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds all over the world. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in its 2015 data made a shocking revelation that in India, one student commits suicide every hour.

Various events and activities are organized all around the world for spreading awareness about suicide and mental health. One of them is ‘Cycling Around the Globe’ which is organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention. In 2017, 287 participants from 48 countries cycled 3.57 lakh kilometers, which is nine times the circumference of the Earth, in support of World Suicide Prevention Day. Participants included individuals from countries like India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Australia, Brazil, Canada, and China.

If you want to be part of this endeavour, go to the official website of International Association for Suicide Prevention and visit the WSPD Cycle Around the Globe Registration and Submission form page.

“When people attempt to take their life or take their life, it’s because they can’t bear the pain any longer and not because they want to die. With an estimated 56 million people suffering from depression and 38 million from anxiety disorders, India faces a serious mental health crisis. Despite these grave numbers, there is an acute lack of awareness and tremendous stigma associated with this condition,” said Anna Chandy, chairperson, board of trustees, The Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF), in a press statement.

“In a study conducted by TLLLF, it was found that the majority of the people surveyed continue to ostracize those needing support and instead labelled them as ‘crazy/mental’ or a ‘retard’. This situation further prevents a person from coming out , seeking help and accepting their condition. In extreme cases, they resort to taking their lives,” Chandy explained.

Comedian Abish Mathew had earlier told HT about the importance of going for therapy. “I go to therapy. I’ve been going for 1-1.5 years now and it’s really been helpful. Not just the comedians in general, but I think everybody should go for it,” he said.

“It’s still awkward for anyone to talk about therapy. It’s awkward for me. But I realise that I come from a position where someone who’s clicking this video says ‘Hey, this is Abish, I’ve heard of this guy’ and if I’m talking about therapy, and not from a position of fame, then people will be like ‘Hey he’s talking about it, then I think it’s cool to do it,’” Abish said.

Deepika Padukone, who founded TLLLF in 2015 had told us, “With the help of the foundation, we want to change the narrative around mental health in India. Why only Bollywood, we want everybody in influential positions in the country to speak out about these issues.”

“I think it eventually boils down to each person’s comfort level, how comfortable or confident they are about sharing their experience. I can say that it is extremely empowering. Once you share your journey, you kind of feel a weight off your shoulders, I mean that’s my personal experience,” Deepika said.

Bollywood has been very vocal about seeking help for mental health issues, and even Anupam Kher had tweeted that he was ready to help anyone who was going through mental health issues.

“Please write to me at anupam@anupamkhercompany.com if someone you know is feeling low, lonely or depressed. Will be happy to talk to them,” he said.