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Kashmir suicide prevention helpline saves lives – DW – 11/24/2022

Mehfooz Ahmad*, 56, was scuffling with the social stigma of his daughter eloping along with her boyfriend days earlier than she was organized to be married to a different man.

He grew to become despondent and, over time, stopped assembly up along with his buddies and began having suicidal ideas.

On a cold night in September, Ahmad locked the entrance door of his home and went as much as his bed room carrying a bottle of poisonous zinc phosphide with the intention of ending his life.

Nevertheless, he as an alternative picked up his smartphone and looked for “Zindagi,” which suggests life in Hindi.

It is also the identify of a suicide prevention helpline not too long ago established by the Institute of Psychological Well being and Neurosciences (IMHANS) in Srinagar, the capital metropolis of Indian-administered Kashmir.

“Whats up! Are you able to assist me?” Ahmad pleaded.

A younger psychologist picked up his name, and so they spoke for 2 hours till Ahmad lastly calmed down.

“I constructed on protecting elements by speaking about the way forward for his youngest daughter and son,” recalled Zoya Mir, a scientific psychologist who heads the Zindagi mission on the IMHANS.

“I additionally discovered his spiritual perception had given him a survival intuition. Therefore, I exaggerated that till he calmed down,” he informed DW.


The excessive price of psychological sickness in Kashmir is basically attributed to battlePicture: Jakub Krechowicz/PantherMedia/IMAGO

Breaking the stigma about suicide

In Muslim-majority Kashmir, suicide has a stigma connected to it, which consultants say prevents individuals from in search of skilled assist for his or her psychological well being.

“There isn’t any phrase equal to suicide within the Kashmiri language. That reveals how uncommon the phenomenon was in our tradition,” mentioned Dr Syed Mehvish Yawar, a psychiatrist related to the Zindagi mission

The helpline was established to finish the stigma surrounding suicide and to encourage individuals to speak brazenly about suicide and to hunt assist, Yawar informed DW.

In keeping with the federal government’s Crime Gazette for 2021, Indian-administered Kashmir recorded 586 suicide instances final 12 months, and 472 in 2020.

The area has the next suicide price than different Indian states and recorded 2,612 deaths by suicide from 2010 to 2018. Almost 290 individuals die yearly by suicide in accordance with figures from India’s Nationwide Crime Data Bureau.

Some research estimate that as many as 45% of the 7 million-strong inhabitants endure from some type of psychological misery.

A 2016 report printed by the worldwide NGO ActionAid and the IMHANS discovered that psychological problems had been significantly widespread amongst weak teams.

The excessive price of psychological sickness was primarily attributed to poor entry to remedy, stigma, and on the root of all of it, battle.

Reaching out for assist

However Yawar estimated that the Zindagi helpline had helped to stop practically 400 suicides after individuals referred to as for counseling and psychological help.

The mission includes a gaggle of scientific psychologists, who’re principally younger girls, offering providers to enhance psychological well-being, corresponding to suicide prevention counseling, first assist, psychological help, misery administration, and psychological disaster administration.

Zindagi head Mir mentioned the helpline will get calls principally from adolescents and younger individuals with low vanity. She mentioned that many had been weak to suicide as a result of the continuing battle within the area had adversely affected their psychological well being.

Nevertheless, half of the calls obtained had been associated to heartbreak, monetary misery within the household, failing marriages or failing to reside as much as parental expectations, she added.

A man in a stairwell looks out of a window
The stigma about psychological sickness and suicide typically prevents individuals from in search of assist from professionalsPicture: kallejipp/Shotshop/IMAGO

An sad marriage

Mir recalled how a 32-year-old lady, Maria* from south Kashmir, had shouted at her, saying nobody may perceive the trauma she had been going by way of in her married life.

Regardless of marrying the love of her life, Maria had been sexually and bodily abused by her husband for a very long time and had been pushed to aim suicide, Mir mentioned.

“Maria was impolite to us and repeatedly shouting she needed to kill herself to do away with the ache,” Mir mentioned.

“We endorsed her on how she will combat the trauma and take away toxicity from her relationship along with her husband.”

The subsequent day Maria got here to the IMHANS for counseling and mentioned that she had made 16 earlier suicide makes an attempt.

“Well timed recommendation can forestall them from trying suicide, however sadly, they principally do not get that help from their relations or buddies,” defined scientific psychologist Masood Maqbool.

Maqbool added that the Zindagi helpline had prevented practically 99% of callers from trying suicide.

Psychological well being is broadly misunderstood in Kashmir, which didn’t have a psychiatric hospital till 1989. Usually family members method a religion healer however this could complicate the state of affairs of individuals with psychological well being points.

Traumatized healthcare employees

Although the healthcare employees at Zindagi have helped to stop many suicides, their very own psychological well being will also be adversely affected by having to cope with suicidal callers.

Days after Ahmad’s suicide try was thwarted, police introduced {that a} 52-year-old man had died after leaping into the River Jhelum in Srinagar.

“My coronary heart sank, and I began crying after listening to the information, pondering it is likely to be Ahmad,” Mir mentioned. “We broke the protocol and retrieved his telephone quantity from our information to name him. […] However happily, it was not him.”

One psychologist, who additionally offers with suicidal callers, informed DW on situation of anonymity that always counselors needed to be saviors, however a worry of failure typically resulted in emotional trauma.

“The state of affairs of an individual, who’s about to commit suicide, would give goosebumps to anybody,” he mentioned, including that not understanding whether or not they would be capable of assist to save lots of any individual was very tense for psychologists and counsellors.

He mentioned that one essential technique of coping with the emotional burden was to speak to colleagues about one’s personal psychological well being points.

Editor’s observe: If you’re having suicidal ideas or are serious about hurting your self, please search skilled assist. You’ll find data on the place to seek out such assist, irrespective of the place you’re on the planet, at

*Starred names have been modified to guard identities.

Edited by: Keith Walker

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