Suicide Prevention

Yellow Ribbon Every 40 seconds a person commits suicide somewhere in the world. Every 3 seconds a person attempts to die. Suicide is among the top three causes of death among young people aged 15-35 years. Each suicide has an impact on at least six other people. The psychological, social and financial impact of suicide on the family and the community is immeasurable. In India, suicide claims twice as many lives as HIV/AIDS though less than half the work is done towards its prevention.

The problem of suicide in Goa is huge. According to the Million Death Study published in the Lancet Journal in 2012, Goa ranks fifth in the country in terms of death due to suicide in the small states category. The suicide rate of 18.4 per lakh population is much higher than the national average of 11.7. COOJ organized a week long awareness program on Suicide Prevention as part of the World Suicide Prevention Week celebrations in 2012 which helped us realize the need for a more organized program to tackle this issue using various approaches with the main aim of reducing the rate of suicides in Goa.

Key Approaches of the Program

  1. Promoting Suicide Prevention Awareness
  2. Capacity Building of Gatekeepers
  3. Operating a Suicide Prevention Helpline
  4. Operating a Suicide Survivor Support Group

Suicide Prevention Program 2012

In September 2012, COOJ celebrated the Suicide Prevention Awareness Week. The Goan community was cautiously awakened to the fact that the rate of suicides in Goa is high An entire week from the 3rd to the 10th of September was dedicated towards creating social awareness in various schools & colleges in the state. The week's program began with an inaugural function on the 3rd of September at the GCCI hall in Panaji for which the Honorable Health Minister, Mr. Laxmikant Parsekar was the chief guest.

The inaugural consisted of talks given by an eminent panel consisting of people from various walks of life who shared their views and opinions on what can be done to reduce the number of suicide cases in Goa.
Dr Peter Castelino, Managing Trustee of COOJ addressed the gathering & briefly spoke on how as a Goan society we need to come together to tackle this huge problem. Editor Journalist, Prakash Kamat from The Hindu emphasized the need for media to report suicide as per the guide lines mentioned by WHO which is not being followed by many press reporters. Mrs Radhika Nayak, Principal of Dempo college stressed the importance of having counseling cells in colleges & schools to tackle the growing pressure & anxiety faced by students who are sometimes unable to handle their emotional lives. Dr Abhijit Nadkarni , Consultant Psychiatrist at Sangath, presented the Million Death Study, Dr Meenacshi Martins, Consultant Psychiatrist and a member of the Psychiatric Society of Goa presented the causes & various measures that can be adopted in suicide prevention. Fr Kenneth Teles, Director of the Diocesan Family Service Center, Goa gave a presentation on the role of the Church.

The Health Minister also inaugurated the Yellow Ribbon Campaign wherein Yellow Ribbons signifying "Ask for Help" would be distributed along with information pamphlets on suicide prevention to students in schools and colleges as well as to the general public throughout the seven days.

During the week, panel discussions were held on the theme "Youth of Today: Coping and Challenges" at 3 colleges, M.E.S. in Vasco, GVM in Ponda and St. Xavier's in Mapusa on the 4th, 6th and 8th respectively.
These host colleges invited other schools & colleges from their respected areas to partake in the discussions. Each Panel comprised of a moderator , a youth icon, a student & a student counselor . The discussions opened up the various challenges that the youth of today are faced with and their concerns on coping with them. It raised questions about suicide and they seemed concerned about the need for more counselors to help in such situations as well as a need for suicide prevention helpline. The moderators at the panel discussions were Dr Ravi Agrawal, Psychiatrist, Dr. Nandita D'souza, Director of Sethu and Dr Peter Castelino.

Various competitions like Poster, Photography & Documentary were held around the WHO theme for 2012 "Suicide Prevention across the Globe: Strengthening Protective Factors and Instilling Hope" were conducted which brought in a lot of participation from students & the general public. Constant messages were aired on radio and television and several articles on the same were highlighted in the print media.

The week ended with a program to celebrate World Suicide Prevention Day on the 10th of September at the Don Bosco's Indoor Auditorium in Panaji. This included a prayer dance performed by the clients of COOJ, a talk on Suicide Prevention by Clinical Psychologist Ayesha Pereira, a skit titled 'Permission to fail' enacted by the enthusiastic Adams theatre group , singing of the theme song - 'Rise up and Shine' by singer-song writer, Varun Carvalho and viewing of the winning documentaries and photographs. The week long program culminated as COOJ joined the global campaign for Suicide Prevention by lighting the Candle of Hope wherein members from three religious communities, Hindu, Muslim & Christian offered prayers.

3rd sept 2012 Suicide Prevention Inaugral function

Candle of hope

Dr Peter Castelino (Managing Trustee) addresses the gathering on 10th Sept 2012

Dr. Varun Carvalho

Light of Hope

Lighting of the candle

Mrs Lakshmi Unny (Trustee) giving away Prizes

Panel discussion MES COLLEGE VASCO 4th sept 2012

Panel discussion St. XAVIERS COLLEGE MAPUCA 8th Sept 2012

Photography contest winners

RJ Ayesha wearing the Yellow Ribbon

Skit 'Permission To Fail' staged at DonBosco's on 10th Sept 2012

Varun Carvalho wearing the Yellow Ribbon

Yellow Ribbon

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I had eight years of work experience in the pharmaceutical industry as a marketing executive. I started coming to COOJ in May 2008. I have learnt a lot; first of all I couldn't stick to one job for more than a month. Coming to COOJ daily helped me to maintain consistency in my work and I have also made a lot of friends here. I do all the office work too. I feel that coming to COOJ helped me tremendously and I am also actively involved in all the sessions held at COOJ.
Vincent D'sa