COVID-19: Rising number in suicide cases of patients highlights need for mental health awareness
The spread of COVID-19 in India began by late February. Over 67,000 people have been tested positive with over 2000 people dying from the virus already. Unfortunately, many people who were tested positive for the virus have committed suicide. This highlights on the importance of stressing on mental health during these times. The government as well as mental health experts must step forward to create more awareness about the pandemic amongst people.
29 year old Anita (name has been changed), was tested positive for COVID-19 in April. She was undergoing treatment at the BYL Nair Hospital at Mumbai. While undergoing treatment, Anita was found hanging from inside the bathroom of her hospital room. Reportedly, she died of depression after being tested positive. Anita’s was the first suicide case from COVID-19 being reported in the city. This is not an isolated incident. Many people, who were tested positive for COVID-19 from different parts of India have committed suicide in the past two months. This highlights on the importance of stressing on mental health during these tough times. Experts talk to NewzHook about why the current tough times calls for urgent measures to create awareness about mental health.
Rising number of suicide rates
Last week, 45 year old Raju Lodh, a migrant worker from Madhya Pradesh, committed suicide in Gujarat. He was pushed to do the extreme act after losing his job due to the pandemic. He was unable to return back home which made things worse for Raju. Another couple from Telangana were found dead in a field after their marriage was postponed due to the lockdown. So there are many people who decides to end their life due to depression from being unable to pass through such tough times as well. Government has not really taken any measures to reach out to such people either.
According to mental health experts, the pandemic is causing anxiety, depression and even paranoia in many people. Some turn to extreme steps like deciding to end their life. Many doctors even point out that highlighting on importance of mental health has become equally important as creating awareness about the pandemic.
K Bhavani is the counsellor with an NGO in Kochi that works towards helping suicidal patients.
“Very often, loneliness and isolation can lead to suicide. In fact, suicide is a cry for help. The social stigma of being a COVID-19 patient may lead a person to take drastic steps like ending his life. Befriending the patient with empathy and being non-judgmental during counselling helps a lot. When the patient’s emotions can be vent out, they feel more relaxed. In certain cases, psychiatric help must be sought too”, says K Bhavani.
A helping hand during tough times
In India, many helplines have been provided for patients with anxiety to communicate. NGO’s and government authorities are offering a helping hand during these times.
In Karnataka, the health department is providing counselling sessions for COVID-19 patients who are in isolation. More states must follow this. Telephonic counselling sessions are ideal during the current times.
Dr Anish V Cherian is the Assistant of Psychiatric Social Work at NIHMANS in Bengaluru. He says, “We have been looking into reports of rising number of suicide cases in India ever since the lockdown started. There are many reasons to it. It includes lack of jobs, hunger, withdrawal symptoms and even domestic violence. All this can impact mental health of a person. This can lead to self-harm and suicide. We need to work on different levels. Setting up helplines will be of much help. NIMHANS is currently doing it. Be supportive towards others too”.
Seema Lal, Co-founder of parent support group TogetherWeCan says that many parents of children with disabilities are also going through tough times and even depression right now. “Mental health is going to be most relevant in coming times. That is one aspect of life that we all take for granted. We brush it aside as it is all on the mind. One has to look at it with seriousness”, she says.
Undoubtedly, a patient who has been tested positive for COVID-19 will go through stress and anxiety. But is committing suicide and taking the extreme step a solution? The government, in collaboration with mental health experts must step forward to highlight the pros and cons of COVID-19. Those who are tested positive must be made aware that with right treatment and care, the virus can be treated and cured.
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