Role of personality in Suicidal thoughts

I am strangled in a concrete jungle
I walk down near the sea to breathe in fresh air
I am looking at the tall buildings
The air is so fresh and sound of the waves are so calming
I can hear my thoughts more clearly away from the hustle bustle of the city
I spread my hands to soak in the breeze
It is so fresh and nice here
My thoughts are so clear and loud
I love my life
(momentary thought)
I hate my life
(the thought takes over)
I am just too exhausted
I am tired of facing the adversities
I don’t want to go back to the life of pain and agony
Let me end it forever
Bye bye to all the worries
Walking down to the edge
(Closes eyes)

What do you think is the end of the story?

According to me, after reading the small write-up, the person after being overpowered by negative thoughts, walking down the edge, jumped and ended her life. This is what the young blood is upto. Right?

Suicide is one of the most important concerns that has been in news almost everyday. Lately after the Blue Whale Challenge hurricane, the increase in rates of suicides among teenagers and a few young adults has struck parts of India as well. According to a 2012 Lancet report, India has one of the world’s highest suicide rates for youth aged 15 to 29.

Globally, according to WHO, one person in every 40 seconds commits suicide every year, making suicide hold a position in top three reasons behind deaths. In India, the rate of suicides is pretty high in most of the States and Union Territories.

Image Source: National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) report, 2015

Suicide became a global concern when a day was dedicated for Suicide Prevention every year in order to bring in awareness among the masses for it’s prevention and intervention. Every 10th of September since 2003, various activities and theme based discussions take place around the world on the occasion of World Suicide Prevention Day. This is an initiative of the International Association for Suicide Prevention(IASP) and endorsed by the World Health Organization(WHO).

The various themes that have emerged over the period of time are:

2003 – “Suicide Can Be Prevented!”
2004 – “Saving Lives, Restoring Hope”
2005 – “Prevention of Suicide is Everybody’s Business”
2006 – “With Understanding New Hope”
2007 – “Suicide prevention across the Life Span”
2008 – “Think Globally, Plan Nationally, Act Locally”
2009 – “Suicide Prevention in Different Cultures”
2010 – “Families, Community Systems and Suicide”
2011 – “Preventing Suicide in Multicultural Societies”
2012 – “Suicide Prevention across the Globe: Strengthening Protective Factors and Instilling Hope”
2013 – “Stigma: A Major Barrier to Suicide Prevention”
2014 – “Light a candle near a Window”
2015 – “Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives”
2016 – “Connect, Communicate, Care”
2017 – “Take a Minute, Change a Life”

If we look at the thread of the various themes, it can be observed that it began with spreading awareness among the masses and then it started. During the early 21st century, internet had not been so handy. People did not have the sources. But over the period of time, internet is at every person’s fingertips. People are well aware of the signs and symptoms. Now if we look at the recent themes, moving from theoretical aspects, we are coming down to targeting practical applicability of the information we have as a step towards our mission and vision. Taking this year’s theme into consideration, just like in saving water, every drop matter; similarly, every minute matters in saving a life.

But, are we really aware about what to do when we notice those signs and symptoms in the symptoms? Recently, I was talking to this friend of mine who shared her experience whereby her friend was going through acute emotional crisis. She could sense the urgency of being there and reaching out to him but something stopped her all the while. She had no idea of what to and how to go about it. I think most of us have gone through some similar situations.

In 2003, suicide was in top 13 list of leading causes of deaths globally. Right now, statistics say that it is holding a place amongst top 3 issues leading to deaths globally. We are all well aware about the prevalence of suicide yet the rates have not declined. It’s been years now. What do you think we need to do?

Lately, I have been reading a lot about First Aid for Mental Health and luckily I got an opportunity to get trained in the same at my workplace. It did remind me that if a step or a hand is reached out in a sensitive way, it helps the person come out of shell. Is could be one of the ways through which we could equip ourselves with skills required to understand various situations.

Another thing that came through short experience, no one can have answers for all the questions. But that does not mean, there are no answers. One has to work hard in distinct weathers to learn, understand and grow.

We can do it!

I had started the article with an open question about what did the girl actually do. I shared my thoughts. While looking for that answer I used various mediums to introspect about the reason of suicidality among youth. Through those mediums, I came to know a lot about the beginning of a day dedicated to Suicide Prevention, reasons behind it, the change in themes over a period of time and the resources that need to be used to equip ourselves with the required theoretical and practical skills. Keeping aside the mainstream genesis shared at different forums which we are well versed with, one thing that struck my mind is shared in the ending paragraph. Let’s see,

I am just too exhausted
I am tired of facing the adversities
I don’t want to go back to the life of pain and agony
Let me end it forever
Bye bye to all the worries
Walking down to the edge
(Closes eyes)

(Steps back)
I am ending the thoughts forever. I am going to think about fighting against all odds and live the moment of serenity and peace.
I am the one who chooses my fate.
No one else can!

We can choose to stand strong and face the storm or we can choose to give up and get washed down by the storm. It all happens within. There must have been many circumstances wherein we inspite of difficulties did fight and bounce back. There must have been instances when life was too harsh, we lose our emotional stability and the world seems gray. It feels like you are walking down in an unending dark tunnel with no signs of hope. Despair takes over and within a fraction of seconds life is gone. But with some, even if the despair takes over, they do not lose the hope to find a flash of light coming from the end. If we see here, it all depends on how one’s personality is. Some are strong, some are weak. Some prefer fighting, some prefer flighting. It is a mechanism that humans or organisms use when a threat is perceived. So here we can see the role of personality factors and ways of coping that enable an individual to take a decision. So basically,

I can choose to Fly, I can choose to Stop.

I am the one who decides the End.

By: Suvarna Agrawal, Fellow-2017, Department of Mental Health Education, NIMHANS