Monday, September 26, 2022
Crime & Law

Seeing suicides through the eyes of a prevention volunteer

PUNJAB NEWS LINE | September 17, 2022 05:53 PM

CHENNAI: Sudha (name changed) is a teacher by profession and a volunteer at 'Sradha, a suicide prevention centre in Chennai which has a 24X7 helpline. She said that it is mandatory for her to keep her identity a secret.

She said that while speaking to a person who is in a suicidal mood, it requires a lot of patience, listening, and only at times giving a brief response. Most of the people who are on the verge of taking their lives retract once they find someone to vent their feelings. Sudha said that she had received calls from children as young as 12 years of age to old men and women as old as 80.

While the reason for ending life varies from individual to individual, there is a generalization of desperation that creeps into their lives and takes them to a mental state of committing suicide.

Sudha said, "People vary and their attitude to situations will also be like that. People react to a situation differently. I cannot share my experiences or advise them as they may try what I did and which may not suit them."

She said that the job of a volunteer is to act as a witness, the volunteer can be like a stone platform for travellers who can rest their heavy burdens for a short time. Volunteers can also be like blank white paper where people can write about their loneliness and relieve their mental agony.

Sudha, who spends four to eight hours a week with the NGO, said that even after an intimate conversation with the person on the verge of committing suicide, that person can never be treated as a friend or a buddy as a suicide prevention volunteer cannot be a substitute or replacement for the original friend/friends or groups.

The volunteers cannot reveal their identity as it prevents known people and acquaintances from calling the helpline, leaving them vulnerable.

Sudha said that she does not even know whether the person who had called her had taken her advice properly or whether he/she has taken their life.

She added that despite all the mental trauma she faces from hearing the most unpleasant things, at the end of the day there is a feeling that something has been done to give solace to a person on the verge of suicide.


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