The University Grants Commission (UGC), on Friday, January 6, issued a letter requesting Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to do their part in “preventing suicides in the nation”. The letter addressed to the vice-chancellors and Principals of all universities, colleges, and institutes, highlighted the intensity of the issue of suicides as a significant public health concern in the country and asked that they prioritise taking actions listed in the National Suicide Prevention Strategy.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has formulated the document containing the strategies. “Suicide is not a single facet phenomenon, the reasons behind suicide vary by age, gender, educational and economic status. Suicide is a tragic loss of life, impacting those living with the loss and the society as a whole. However, it is encouraging that with right interventions suicide is preventable,” the letter read.
It further stated that the National Suicide Prevention Strategy formulated by MoHFW “utilises the guidance established by National and International documents for mental health and suicide prevention.”
The document in question says that suicide is the leading cause of death in the age group of 15-29, further pointing out that 65 per cent of suicides are committed by people aged 18-45. The strategy identifies early primary intervention, psychosocial support, access to quality treatment, restricted access to means of suicide, and self-preservation supporting cultural and religious beliefs as protective factors against suicide.
In line with this, the strategy has recommended actions such as developing and adopting guidelines for psychosocial care for patients and caregivers of those with terminal or critical illnesses. it also added putting in place training programs for early identification of mental health issues and strengthening healthcare infrastructure for the same. Increasing the number of post-graduate seats in the field of mental health.
The startegy also recommended conducting large-scale community awareness programs and incorporating educational material on the promotion of mental health in the curriculum. Identify and train teachers for the delivery of life skills education to students. Mandating integration of mental wellness programs and facilities in all workplaces.
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