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Covid-induced lockdown has been lifted from most regions and various other measures have been eased. But, the very thought that Covid-19 pandemic is still on continues to affect mental health.

By Rachel V Thomas

Covid-induced lockdown has been lifted from most regions and various other measures have been eased. But, the very thought that Covid-19 pandemic is still on continues to affect mental health. The uncertain nature of the pandemic, the chaos associated with the same continues to add to mental stress, which manifests as rising cases of depression, anxiety, insomnia, behavioural changes, health anxiety, nightmares, grief, among others, all that can contribute to suicidal thoughts and behaviour, said mental health experts here on Friday.

September 10 is annually observed as World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide remains one of the leading causes of death in the world, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), accounting for one in every 100 deaths. Every 40 seconds there is someone who ends his or her life, as per the WHO data. The theme this year is "creating hope through action".

"A lot of people have gone through economic and financial stresses, some have lost jobs, some are concerned about their future and about their career, some have had loss of their loved ones, some of them had medical problems or going through medical problems right now," Dr Samir Parikh, director, Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare, told IANS.

drowning people A study published in the International Journal of Mental Health Systems in December last year, showed a 67.7 per cent increase in online news media reports of attempted suicides and deaths by suicide. Photo by Andreea Popa on Unsplash

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A high school girl, who was invited to take part in the session to share her experiences, said she had asked for help from local authorities when she felt her mental health was deteriorating.

Schools across Japan are taking action against increasing student suicides that have occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic, holding sessions on mental health and helping pupils to show how they feel by using technology.

According to government data, Japan reported a record number of 499 student suicides last year amid the pandemic, as many were believed to have felt lonely during months-long school closures to prevent the virus spread, reports Xinhua news agency. The figure for the first half of 2021 was higher than the previous year, the data added. At an educational session on mental health organized by a junior high school in Wakayama prefecture, a school counsellor explained to around 140 students how to recognize signs revealing possible mental health problems.

Counselor Eriko Fujita, aged 54, who is also a certified psychologist, suggested second graders to watch out for changes in their habits, such as eating more desserts and spending more time on pets than usual. "You can learn about your mental condition by noticing changes in your physical health and behavior," Fujita told local media.

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Person behind fog glass

While suicide rates are generally higher in men than in women, but those who indulge in family care workers are less vulnerable to take their lives, according to a new study.

The study, led by Colorado State University researchers, found that men's suicide mortality is related to their private-life behaviours, specifically their low engagement in family care work -- not just the adversities they may encounter in aspects of their public lives, such as employment.

Men tend to overinvest in the role of an economic provider and underinvest in family care work -- a pattern that leaves them vulnerable when economic-provider work is threatened or lost, according to Silvia Sara Canetto Canetto, Professor of Psychology at the varsity.

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Marginality is "living on the edge, and not succumbing to the culture of the masses. Pixabay

India has effectively decriminalized suicide, with the Mental Healthcare Act, passed by Parliament in 2017 and entering into force a year later, noting that “notwithstanding anything contained in section 309 of the Indian Penal Code (that makes it a punishable offense), any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumed, unless proved otherwise, to have severe stress and shall not be tried and punished under the said Code”.

“Truly, suicide then is the end of the present, but it is always a possibility of the future. It is the end for the one who commits suicide, but for those left behind, it opens a door to find the possible meaning of life,” Iranian-born Ramin Jahanbegloo, one of the world’s leading philosophers and most widely read authors, contends in his seminal book, “In Pursuit of Unhappiness – Reflections on Suicide” (Orient BlackSwan).

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