The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted human lives in myriad ways. Apart from the physical severity of the infection itself, patients and their family members are carrying serious psychological baggage that in turn lead to suicidal tendencies. While the situation is alarming, it is not new. Last year, the first wave of the pandemic also saw a significant number of cases of covid-related suicide cases. Experts, however, feel that suicide is an act that can be prevented with timely help and mental health interventions.

Dr Rajani P, deputy director, Mental Health, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka says people should concentrate on the 99 per cent recovered cases rather than the one per cent death rate of covid infected. “This is a tough time for everyone. But the human mind will always have resources to overcome difficulties. All of us have overcome several hardships in life. If not for the pandemic, we would probably speak to a confidante or a friend and relieve ourselves of the psychological burden. We should do that even now. We may not be able to meet them physically, but even regular calls will help.”

In most cases, people who are infected are scared of spreading the infection to their family members. They panic if there are kids or elders at home. Such was the case with Soma Naik, 70, of Belanahalli, Chikkamagalur district in Karnataka. He was a retired Tahsildar and had tested positive. His entire family tested positive and were isolated at their home. Unable to take the pressure of this and blaming himself to be the source of infection for which everyone at home had to suffer, he shot himself in his farm. Had he discussed his feelings and emotions with a friend or even with other members of the family, Dr Rajani P observes that Naik could have been saved.

The daily surge in numbers is causing panic among people. This is even more detrimental as a fearful mind results in a weaker constitution and immunity. Hence the best way to deal with the pandemic is to be brave and avoid staying alone unless self-isolating. Even in isolation, people are advised to keep in touch with friends and family. Video calls, chats, messages and numerous other means are now available to make connecting with others easier.

Even simply venting inner pressure makes a lot of difference to many, the expert points out. She also advised all to be aware and conscious of others in their surroundings and observe their behaviour to note changes in it in case of any. A bubbly, talkative person staying mum, for instance, or an attentive person not paying attention to anything around or simply sulking and keeping to oneself are could be indications of psychological stress in someone. Such people should seek help or be referred to see an expert by the nearest kin.

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