After decades, mental illness remains a prevalent cause of death in our society because the fatal, final step in this battle against this issue, is suicide. Over time awareness about mental illness conditions has increased significantly across the globe, there are more campaigns, more clinics and therapists available. Why is it that across the world, suicide is still a prominent cause of death? Is it still something we as a society need to worry about? How much does it actually affect our world, our continent, our country, our state? Many claim that mental illness is now given the appropriate amount of attention, and people suffering from this have enough facilities. However, statistics seem to contradict this.
World Health Organization statistics show that every forty seconds, one person commits suicide. This results in 800,000 people every year dying of suicide, and of this, 17% lived in India; that’s 135,000 people each year. Latest research shows that as of 2020, nearly 1000 times a day this tragedy occurs, many of them in the age group of 15-25. The leading cause of death in India for age group 15-39 is suicide. Some may argue that due to India being one of the most populated countries in the world, the suicide rates are bound to be high. While this may be true, there are multiple other reasons why suicide is quite prevalent here, the main being the mindset that we’ve had about mental illnesses.
Mental Health as Taboo?
Have you ever heard the phrase: ‘only crazy people go to therapists’? This was a very common belief in India; if you visit a clinic for depression, anxiety or any other sort of mental illness, the society deemed you ‘crazy’. The social stigma and age-old prejudices have caused people suffering from mental illness to supress everything and hide behind a façade, rather than seeking help at the right time. Eventually, many of these people succumb and later, people around are left wondering what went wrong. Maybe we as a nation have improved, maybe we are more supportive and encouraging of seeking help, but the improvement hasn’t been enough for us as a country to stop paying attention to this crisis. The Indian population once again became more conscious of this fact in the last two weeks.
In all Glory and Fame:
Quite recently, Sushant Singh Rajput, a prominent actor from the Bollywood film industry committed suicide. The nation was shaken by this act and people have taken to social media to write about mental illness awareness; asking people going through a difficult time to seek help, pleading people to reach out to friends and family that may be going through adversity.
In some sad, twisted way after the passing of this public figure, it’s almost beautiful to see how we have come together to address this crisis that keeps getting buried under daily life and more spoken about issues such as poverty or corruption. Suddenly, there’s been an awakening as people try to break down barriers and stigma that’s built up in our society over decades.
Sometimes, it takes a harsh act to wake us up and get us to bring our awareness to this issue. But in the end, as long as we keep talking about it, we keep attempting to break those barricades built up by society, we can progress and hopefully help as many people as possible who are suffering from these conditions because they deserve our help, just like anyone suffering from cancer or heart diseases.
They deserve our help and if we come together as a global community, maybe in twenty years this won’t be a leading cause of death. But this can only happen if we as a community make a conscious effort to tear down the taboo around us, give this just as much importance as we treat any other type of death.
Author: Sambhavi Ashok