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Mental Illness Or Stress: What Leads A Person To Suicide?

In the wee hours of Wednesday, 31 July, 2019, the body of Cafe Coffee Day founder V G Siddhartha was found from the Nethravathi river. The business magnate - founder of the largest coffee chain in India - went missing on Monday night en route to Karnataka.

A letter, avowedly written by Siddhartha pointed out the grim reality behind the grandiose success of Cafe Coffee Day outlets all over India, and even abroad. The letter broach of the immense pressure Siddhartha was facing from the lenders, one of the private equity partners (Pes) as well as the tax authorities.

Upon coming across the news of Siddhartha's sudden demise, purportedly caused by the tremendous pressure and harassment he had faced, one must understand the importance of mental health - which is the central aspect determining an individual's overall well-being.

Understanding Mental Health And Mental Illness

Mental health is the agglomeration of our emotional, psychological, and social well-being that affects one's ability to act, think and feel. It also helps determine the way we relate to others, how we handle stress and imperatively how you make choices in life.

Let's go ten years back into the past, the social stigma on mental health prompts it to be turned into a topic that does not deserve to be talked about, especially in India. However, with time and reformations the stigma attached to mental health and its aspects is slowly but becoming detached; shining a light on the importance of mental health awareness [1] [2] .

Biological factors (such as genes or brain chemistry), life experiences (such as trauma or abuse) and a family history of mental health problems are all factors contributing to mental health problems or mental illnesses.

Mental illnesses are not rare, 1 in 5 people globally have a mental health disorder. Some of the most common mental illnesses affecting the population are depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder.

According to the WHO, India is the most depressed country, with 6.5 per cent of the population suffering from some form of serious mental disorder [3] .

Link Between Mental Illness And Suicidal Behaviour

Reports point out that, about 90 per cent of the people who commit suicide have experienced some form of mental illness. However, it does not assert that people who are clinically diagnosed with mental illness will develop suicidal behaviour.

It is to be clearly understood that, mental illness in conjunction with social circumstances can become the factors that result in suicidal feelings and behaviours. Individuals diagnosed with major depression and bipolar disorder, are at higher risk for suicide. These diagnosable mood disorders along with psychiatric disorders (anxiety disorder, personality disorder etc.) that co-occur with depression are also prone towards suicidal behaviour [4] .

If the individual tends to become socially withdrawn from friends and family, have dramatic mood swings or impulsive and reckless behaviour - once can take it up as the warning signs. And immediate care must be provided.

Does Stress Play A Role In Suicidal Behaviour?

It is important to understand the link between mental illness and stress. Being stressed is a normal part of our lives. You can get stressed from work, studies, family, relationship, social events and more, and this is extremely normal.

However, when the stress continues for a long period and causes difficulty in your daily life - it needs attention. When stress begins to be overwhelming and disrupts your life drastically, there are high chances that it can interfere with one's mental well-being [5] .

Sudden transitions and perpetual troubles can cause constant stress, which will eventually cause anxiety disorders. But, does stress play a role in suicidal behaviours? Yes, it does!

Stressful events are one of the major causes of suicide, where the troubled individuals dejectedly decide on ending their lives, as it seems like the better option. However, while it can trigger suicidal behaviour in some, it is not the same in every individual.

Studies have pointed out that certain genes in your body that regulates stress are linked to suicidal behaviours [6] .

On A Final Note.....

With the rising number of mental illnesses in the country, it is high time that the awareness on the subject to be extended. With professional help and mental care, suicidal behaviour can be prevented. Getting professional help is the first step in helping yourself from the suicidal thoughts, apart from that, take medications as directed, never skip a therapy session, pay attention to the warning signs.

There are various suicide prevention hotlines in India such as AASRA, SPIF etc. that can help you in your journey. There is nothing wrong or embarrassing in getting help. Talk to someone, get professional help and help yourself!

View Article References
  1. [1] Vigo, D., Thornicroft, G., & Atun, R. (2016). Estimating the true global burden of mental illness.The Lancet Psychiatry,3(2), 171-178.
  2. [2] Murthy, R. S. (2017). National mental health survey of India 2015–2016.Indian journal of psychiatry,59(1), 21.
  3. [3] Patel, V., Xiao, S., Chen, H., Hanna, F., Jotheeswaran, A. T., Luo, D., ... & Druss, B. G. (2016). The magnitude of and health system responses to the mental health treatment gap in adults in India and China.The Lancet,388(10063), 3074-3084.
  4. [4] Deb, S., Strodl, E., & Sun, J. (2015). Academic stress, parental pressure, anxiety and mental health among Indian high school students.International Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences,5(1), 26-34.
  5. [5] Shields-Zeeman, L., Pathare, S., Walters, B. H., Kapadia-Kundu, N., & Joag, K. (2017). Promoting wellbeing and improving access to mental health care through community champions in rural India: the Atmiyata intervention approach.International journal of mental health systems,11(1), 6.
  6. [6] Lutz, P. E., Mechawar, N., & Turecki, G. (2017). Neuropathology of suicide: recent findings and future directions.Molecular psychiatry,22(10), 1395.
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