According to the National Crime Records Bureau's report, 3,286 persons took their own lives in Goa in the past 13 years from 2011 to 2022. Nearly twice as many people commit suicide in Goa than the national average. Men made up about 75 per cent of the 308 suicides reported in Goa in 2020.
Sadness, resentment, or stress contributed to 25 per cent of the 1004 suicides between 2014 and June 2017. South Goa had 73 unexpected deaths and almost 100 suicides in 2022. Medical professionals have disputed the causes of the rise in fatalities following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The experts point out that social problems including abuse, drunkenness, family strife, and chronic illnesses are some of the main reasons why Goans choose to take their own life, despite the fact that suicide is one of the nation’s top silent killers today.
Suicide is gravely an immoral act because it goes against the urge to live and goes against true love for oneself and others. Our bodily and spiritual well-being must be preserved; it is not an option. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, everyone is accountable for their life in front of God, who gave it to them.
We have a responsibility to embrace life with gratitude and to protect it for God’s honour and for the salvation of our souls. We are not the owners of the life that God has given us; rather, we are stewards.
Suicide is against the duty of love we have to God and the commandment to put our trust in God, who will never leave us and will see us through our life without incident. Significant psychological distress, agony, or extreme dread of hardship, suffering, or torture might lessen the perpetrator’s accountability for their actions.
Only God can see the depths of our hearts, understand how much we love Him, and understand how accountable we are for our deeds. We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives.
Pope Francis notes that the rise in suicide displays deeper spiritual poverty in our culture today. The current culture leads the young to think that they are ‘losers’ and ‘good for nothing’ and therefore, unable to overcome any suffering that comes their way.
Dalai Lama said, “If you really want to get rid of all your suffering, all the difficulties you experience in your life, you have to get rid of the fundamental cause (greed, hatred and delusion) that gives rise to the aggregates that are the basis of all suffering. Killing yourself isn’t going to solve your problems.”
Thus, a comprehensive and research-based policy on suicide prevention is necessary to deal with this problem successfully. Let’s start with increasing accessibility to mental healthcare services through developing and enhancing the system.
This entails hiring more mental health specialists, opening mental health clinics, and incorporating mental health into routine medical care. There is a need for launching public awareness efforts to lessen the stigma pertaining to suicide and mental health issues. These programmes ought to concentrate on informing people, families, and communities about the significance of seeking help and the suicide warning signals.
In order to teach children about emotional health, stress management, and how to seek help for themselves or their classmates, it is also essential to implement mental health education programmes in schools that are not just one-day events but rather ongoing, persistent, and consistent programmes.
Providing instruction on recognising and addressing suicide risk to medical professionals, first responders, educators, and community leaders is a must as suicide has now become the second biggest killer in India after road accidents.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends four key interventions to prevent suicide: limit access to suicide means, engage with media for responsible reporting of suicide, foster socio-emotional life skills in adolescents, and early identification and management of affected individuals. These interventions include situation analysis, multisectoral collaboration, awareness raising, capacity building, financing, surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation.
I am aware that there are communities in Goa that frequently work to build welcoming spaces where people can find comfort, understanding, and camaraderie. Feelings of loneliness and despair, which are risk factors for suicide, can be fought off with the aid of this sense of community.
On July 23, 2023, as part of the World Suicide Prevention Day ‘the Yellow Run,’ event was conducted in Goa to raise suicide prevention awareness. It was organized by the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program (YRSPP), the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The event included a 15-km run, a 10-km run, and a 5-km fun walk. Are these efforts enough? According to me, they aren’t, as very few participate in such awareness programmes and therefore, constant effort must be made to take steps on various occasions to save lives. Sadhguru says, “Life situations are there, some are okay, some are not okay, some are horrible, but still it does not give you the right to take life because you are incapable of creating one.”