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SAN-KER observes World Suicide Prevention Day

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SHILLONG: To commemorate World Suicide Prevention Day on Wednesday, SAN-KER Centre organised a bicycle rally and symposium in keeping with this year’s theme – “Suicide Prevention: One World Connected”. The aim is to create a connectedness to bring down the rate of suicide in Meghalaya.

Addressing the audience at the symposium, SAN-KER Centre founder, Dr. Sandi Syiem said that there is no better mantra to address the problem of suicide other than developing a sense of connectedness among the people.

“The rate of suicide is inversely related to how a person connects with family, friends, peers and other members of society. People who feel accepted by society are less likely to take their own lives,,” Dr. Syiem said while elaborating on this year’s theme.

Dr. Syiem also observed that globally, there is one case of suicide every 40 seconds and for every suicide there are around 20 attempted suicides. He pointed out that while substantial amounts are invested in cancer research not much investment goes towards understanding the causes of suicide and preventing them.

Resource person for the programme, former Assistant Professor of NEIGRIHMS’ Psychiatry department, Dr. Sonali Shinde Tesia informed that 60 per cent of suicides in Meghalaya in 2012-13 were of those in the 15-29 age group and the main reasons are mental illness, social and personal problems.

“People generally decide to take their own lives due to a sense of helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness” Dr Tesia said adding that suicides are 100 per cent preventable if we reduce the social isolation.

According to figures released by the National Crime Records Bureau, Dr. Tesia said there were over 1.3 lakh suicides in India in 2012, which equates to around 15 every hour, adding that there is, however, one suicide every 40 seconds globally, according to the World Health Organisation.

Dr. Tesia said suicide is one of the greatest killers in the world, with more people dying through suicide than by murder and war put together. According to the WHO, she said there were nearly a million suicides around the globe in 2012.

Prominent lawyer S.S. Dey observed that the law on suicide is not developed in India

“We are still using British era law that criminalises attempted suicide. There had been attempts to amend Section 306 to 309 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to scrap the criminalisation of suicide. It stood amended for a brief period in 1994 but was revoked in 1996,” Dey said.

Earlier in the day, around 50 cyclists participated in a 14-km rally as part of a worldwide effort to spread awareness of suicide, which accounts for the loss of eight lakh lives every year, according to the World Health Organisation.

Rev. V.T.S. Langstieh who is also a part-time chaplain of SAN-KER gave a perspective on what different religions have to say about suicide, adding that the loss of a single life to suicide is a tragedy.

Rev Langstieh said that the word suicide should be replaced by the words, “laying down one’s life,” for the reasons that make a person lay down his/ her own life is complex and one cannot be judgmental about that.

The bicycle rally went through parts of Mawlai Mawroh, Golf Links, Polo, Nongmynsong and other areas before ending at SAN-KER.

A question-answer session followed the presentation where the audience clarified their doubts from the experts.

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