A Gatekeeper workshop was organized by the IQAC of St. Xavier’s College, Mapusa, Goa on 19th October, 2017 at 10 a. m. in the Seminar hall.
The main objective of the workshop was to provide teachers, mentor and parents with an approach to suicide prevention in youth. Dr. Peter Castellino stressed that the youth suicide might be prevented by earlier recognition and treatment of mental health. Teachers, parents and mentors should screen for mental illness in youth, since there are many diagnostic and treatment resources available to assist with this. Dr. Peter also mentioned that Teen suicide has increased four fold in the past 40years and is now the second leading cause of death in this age group. The no. 1 risk factor for youth suicide is the presence of mental illness. Because the youth do not usually present to their teachers or parents with psychological symptoms, we have to be alert for symptoms and risk factors that suggest the development of psychiatric illness and suicide risk. Some of these risk factors could be due to family history of suicidal tendencies, teens who have been in trouble with the law or the police, those involved in physical fights, difficulties in academic performance, physical illness etc.
Warning signs for Adolescent suicides are :
- Sudden change in behavior
- Change in eating pattern
- Unusual preoccupation with death or dying
- The giving away of valued personal possessions
- Signs of depression
Some of the methods to reduce the tendencies in suicide could be:
- By periodically conducting health examinations specially for the age group of 15 to 24 years.
- Teens believe that their disclosure of suicidal thoughts could result in a break in confidentiality and hence they are less willing to divulge their personal information.
- Self mutilation is associated with serious mental illness and confers a high risk of eventual completed suicide and also suffer from a personality disorder.
- The physician or counselor should assess the level of intent.
- The physician or counselor should also assess their reasons for living.
- The physician or counselor should identify and mobilize protective factors such as social support, sense of family cohesion, school/college connectedness, sports involvement, academic achievements. Emotional and psychological support for friends and family appears to safeguard against suicide.
- The access to lethal means should be reduced or banned by the Government.
- In serious cases, hospitalization and medications for the patient should be considered.
In conclusion, the earlier detection and treatment of mental illness are the most important ways to reduce morbidity and mortality for youth who are contemplating suicide.
Dr. Claudette Gomes proposed the vote of thanks.