Updated: October 10, 2020 9:14:46 am
Mental health and its deterioration has been a troubling aspect for many people around the world. There has lately been a lot of conversation around self-harm and suicide since they are now being acknowledged as legitimate outcomes of mental health crisis. Doctors insist that suicide is preventable, and one simply needs a lot of self-awareness and basic knowledge in order to keep themselves and their loved ones safe and secure.
On the occasion of World Mental Health Day, Dr Kedar Tilwe, consultant psychiatrist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund and Vashi, explains the ‘WAIT approach’ that can be used to prevent suicides.
What is WAIT?
W — Watch for distress signs and behavioural changes
A — Ask about any contemplation about self-harm in a gentle manner
I — It will pass; assure the person that with proper support and help, suicidal ideation can decrease
T — Talk to others, encourage the person to seek help from mental health experts
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Further elaborating it, Dr Tilwe goes on to say that we must look for the red flags. “Sudden changes in behaviour, substance abuse, idea of emptiness, helplessness and hopelessness, changes in online statuses to morbid ones and researching methods to end one’s life are some of the red flag signs that a person may display prior to attempting self-harm. Along with verbalising self-harm ideas, one should always be vigilant of these indicators, and intervene as soon as possible.”
He also suggests that we must try to be there for the person. “Self-harm ideas may often come in as overwhelming impulses which a person is unable to tolerate and may be tempted to give into. Just your presence, in person or over the phone, while listening actively and showing genuine understanding and empathy, can help an individual cope with the situation.”
Some people may require your assistance to reach out and receive the appropriate professional help, whereas others may require a firm but gentle nudge. So ensure they access available appropriate services, he advises, adding it is necessary to make sure they reach out to professionals and follow up regularly. “It is important to give them the surety that it is a safe space. Build a support net of people from all aspects of the person’s life, including personal, professional and social, so that there are multiple support approaches that the person can reach out to,” he says.
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If you, or someone you know, are going through a tough time:
– Consider the guilt of not being able to prevent a loved one from harming themselves. Pause and think about all the people in your life — family, friends and colleagues — and what they may agonise over. Feel the responsibility, love and affection that they have for you and reach out to them.
– Help is available to those who ask for it. There are a number of helplines, NGOs, walk-in clinics and support groups that you can access for psychological first-aid and guidance.
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