In keeping with the theme of World Suicide Prevention Day 2022, “Creating hope through action,” a collaborative programme was initiated with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, (NIMHANS) Bengaluru, Father Muller Medical College, Mangaluru, Manashanthi, Mangaluru, Suicide Lifeline- a unit of Susheg Charitable Trust (R), Lions Club Mangalore Balmatta, Leo Club Roshni Mangalore Balmatta in association with Criminovision, Psy Forum and the Centre for Human Transformation, School of Social Work, Roshni Nilaya, Mangaluru on Monday, September 5, 2022 at 9:30 am in the College Auditorium. Fifty four students of School of Social Work, Roshni Nilaya got the opportunity to experience a knowledge -enriching program revolving around the topic ‘Suicide Prevention’ that deepened their understanding of suicide, how to identify traits of one contemplating it, and effectively prevent them from ending their own lives.

The dignitaries included Mr. Bharat Rathinam and Ms. Lekshmi Vimala, resource persons from the Department of Psychiatric Social Work, NIMHANS, Rev. Fr. Ajith B. Menezes, Administrator & Dr. Avinash Shekhar from Father Muller Medical College, Mangaluru, Dr. Rameela Shekhar from Manashanthi, Mangaluru, Dr. Juliet CJ, Principal, School of Social Work, Mangaluru, Dr. Laveena Noronha from Suicide Lifeline, Lion Lancy Menezes, President and Leo Lancy Carlo, Zone Chairperson from Lions Club Mangalore Balmatta. The programme was compered by Leo Ifra Ayesha, district GLT coordinator, and sponsored by Leo Club District 317D.

Jason Lobo gave a soulful rendition invoking God’s blessings. The objectives and essence of the suicide prevention training programme were enumerated by Dr. Rameela Shekar. She expressed that young people often resort to their peers for mental solace rather than seek help from mental health professionals. This programme would help towards having trainees evolve into gatekeepers for suicide prevention.

The programme was inaugurated by Rev. Fr. Ajith B. Menezes, Administrator, Father Muller Medical College, Mangaluru by unveiling a banner. Pointing out the rise of panic attacks among the youth and a spike in suicide rates, he quoted ‘A life is very precious and it is our responsibility to preserve it’.

The Chief Guest Lion Lancy Menezes, President of Lion Club Mangalore Balmata encouraged everyone to stand as a beacon of light to those in need. Dr. Juliet CJ, Principal of School of Social Work delivered the presidential address where she emphasized the significance of educators and drew attention to the various support systems concerning mental health. Lion Lancy Carlo shared his haunting experience of almost losing someone dear to him.

Dr. Sandra Sunitha Lobo, Head of the Department of Psychology, School of Social Work expressed words of appreciation to all collaborators who joined in collective action to address an urgent public health issue. The inaugural program concluded with the National Anthem.

After a short break, all trainees answered a questionnaire. The first session of the Gatekeeper training programme was conducted by Mr.Bharath Rathinam and Ms. Lekshmi Vimala from NIMHANS, Bengaluru. The stark contrast between suicide and self-harm both of which lie on a high spectrum of concern, Death wishes, questioning the point of life and Suicidal Ideation were the topics covered. Several cases were presented to understand the nature of suicide.

Through a brief activity, the otherwise clear identification of verbal content and physical symptoms present in physical illnesses were pointed out which were absent in many mental health conditions. Warning signs of suicide were discussed and detailed. The other topics included risk factors like previous suicide attempts, mental disorders, family history of suicide attempts besides keeping in mind the issue of human rights.

The trainers provided effective ways in identifying risk factors through the Abbreviation “IS PATH WARM?” I-IDEATION , S- SUBSTANCE ABUSE ,P-PURPOSELESSNESS ,A- ANXIETY , T-TRAPPED , H- HOPLESSNESS , W-WITHDRWAL , A- ANGER ,R-RECKLESNESS , M-MOOD CHANGES.

Mr. Bharat Rathinam provided real-life examples from his line of work and showed how he approached those who attempted suicide in a manner that made them comfortable to express themselves and prevent them from taking the last step. He presented them with techniques to distract themselves during times when they experience an overwhelming urge to kill themselves. The importance of asking direct or indirect questions while practicing patience to understand how the person is feeling was also discussed.

Ms. Leskhmi shared effective methods to intervene responsibly such as being a good listener, being supportive and instilling hope, being non-judgemental, and finally making them promise to not kill themselves until they seek professional help.

The entire program ended at 1 pm with representatives from NIMHANS and Manashanthi providing the trainees with information on various suicide helplines across the state and country. They also encouraged trainees to join hands and help them in their vocation to save lives.


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