Unmasking Suicide Myths in Nepal

Unmasking Suicide Myths in Nepal 

 - Dikshya Koirala

In Nepal, as in many parts of the world, suicide is a significant public health issue. The government, in collaboration with organizations like Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO Nepal), established the National Suicide Prevention Helpline to address this pressing concern. Having had the opportunity to work closely with the helpline for a month, I have gained firsthand insight into the importance of dispelling myths surrounding suicide prevention and advocating for mental health support. In this piece, we will debunk common misconceptions while highlighting the critical work being done to combat this issue. 

The Global Reality of Suicide 

Before we delve into the myths, it is crucial to understand the global scope of the problem. Suicide ranks as the 15th leading cause of death worldwide, claiming nearly 700,000 lives annually, or roughly one life every 40 seconds. In Nepal, the situation is no less alarming. According to Nepal Police statistics, an average of seventeen people take their own lives daily. The most recent data from the year 2077/2078 recorded 7,117 annual cases of suicide in Nepal. These numbers underscore the urgent need for effective suicide prevention measures. 

Myth 1: Talking About Suicide Encourages It 

One of the most persistent misconceptions about suicide prevention is the belief that openly discussing it can increase suicidal thoughts or actions. Contrary to this belief, discussing suicide openly is a fundamental step in prevention. It provides individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts a safe space to express their feelings and seek help. 

Myth 2: Suicidal People Always Show Obvious Signs 

Another common misconception is that individuals contemplating suicide always exhibit clear, unmistakable signs. However, many people suffering from suicidal thoughts keeps their struggles hidden. It is crucial to be vigilant and supportive of those around us, even when there are no obvious signs. 

Myth 3: Only Certain People Are at Risk 

Suicide can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background. Another common misconception is that only certain demographics are at risk. In reality, everyone is susceptible to the challenges of mental health, and it is crucial to provide resources and support for everyone in need. 

Myth 4: Suicidal Individuals Are Simply Seeking Attention 

Some people mistakenly believe that those who express suicidal thoughts are merely seeking attention. It is important to understand that suicidal ideation is a genuine mental health crisis and dismissing it as attention-seeking behavior can be detrimental. 

Myth 5: Mental Health Support Is Optional 

Perhaps the most dangerous myth of all is the belief that mental health support is optional or indicative of weakness. In truth, mental health is as crucial as physical health, and seeking support is a sign of strength. 

The Role of Suicide Helplines in Nepal 

Nepal has organizations dedicated to helping those in crisis. In addition to the National Suicide Prevention Helpline, there are other institutions, such as the Patan Hospital Suicide Hotline (Number: 9813476123) and the Nepal Crisis Hotline, also run by Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (Number: 16600102005). These helplines are staffed by trained counselors who specialize in psychosocial support, risk assessment, crisis intervention, and various grounding techniques to provide immediate assistance. 

Suicide prevention is a critical issue that demands our collective attention and understanding. Helplines like these play a vital role in debunking myths surrounding suicide prevention and promoting mental health support. By dispelling these misconceptions and emphasizing the importance of seeking help, we can contribute to a society where individuals in crisis receive the support they need and deserve.  

Remember, reaching out for help is a sign of strength, and there is hope and assistance available for those who need it. Together, we can break the silence and make a difference in the lives of those struggling with suicidal thoughts.