Breaking the silence around suicide | The Daily Star
04:12 PM, October 10, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:52 AM, October 11, 2019

Breaking the silence around suicide

Ananna wakes up with a jolt as loud crashes and bangs fill the 3am quiet of the night. Faint screams can be heard from outside her room when suddenly her mother’s desperate cries jerk her out of bed and out through the door to find her family gathered around her brother on the floor. As they try desperately to pry his mouth open and take all the sleeping pills out, a traumatized 8 year old Ananna stands in the corner trying to understand why her happy-go-lucky brother was suddenly on the floor trying to end his own life.

In the time that it takes for you to finish reading this paragraph, someone you may or may not know, will have already taken and acted upon the decision to end their life. As difficult as it is to believe, according to the World Health Organization, every 40 seconds, someone around the globe has takes their own life. That is 800,000 people dying every year, making suicide the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year olds. Yet 40 seconds is still longer than it takes to message and ask someone how they are doing today.

To some, suicide is the last option when all other efforts to overcome their distress has failed; while for many others, it is the result of giving in to a moment of blinding anger. Yet, whatever the reason or cause, suicide has claimed more lives than just the one that is lost. Like a ripple along the river, families and loved ones have always had to deal with the short end of the stick, trying to heal from wounds that never close and scars that never heal with time.

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“I never realised how bad things were until the night my 16 year old brother actually tried to swallow all those sleeping pills in front us while my parents tried to pry his hands open to make him stop. There was nothing I could do but stand in a corner and watch it all unfold; and every now and then, I involuntarily revisit that nightmare when my brother misses my calls or doesn’t pick up fast enough”, shares a now 26 year old Ananna with the trauma still lingering in her eyes.

While many attempts at suicide fail, there are countless more that do succeed, and for every one of those cases, there is more than one life that is lost. Families spend much of their lives afterwards trying to recover from a wound that never heals or even closes; constantly reliving the moment over and over again, and trying to deal with a gaping hole in their chests. Continuously going over different scenarios with all the “what ifs” and “could haves”, loved ones are often the remnants of a mistake that perhaps could have been avoided with a little more attention and support.

Oftentimes we are so worried about avoiding the negatives that we fail to acknowledge the need to address the elephant in the room - suicide. More often than not, topics like suicide or hurting oneself is almost as taboo a topic, as discussing sex with children is to most parents. It is easier to laugh it away with a slap on the back, or completely disregard one’s feelings with contempt and judgement, than actually acknowledge the problem. Yet once the deed is done, the ones most suffering the consequences of such an action are the families and loved ones who often failed to accept the signs.

Fortunately, times are changing, and although there are still many who refuse to acknowledge depression as anything other than a “phase”, there are others who are standing up in support of one another. For a 30 year old Nazir who had almost given up on life suffering from chronic depression and anxiety, he found a saviour in his wife who although suffered silently alongside him, yet never gave up.

With constant attention and support through his darker days, Joyita helped her husband open up bit by bit about his insecurities and want for “going away”. It was never an easy journey, as depression claims not only the victim, but the ones surrounding them. On days that things got excessively difficult, Joyita sought help on the internet and came across PHWC – Psychological Health and Wellness Clinic - A Centre that provides mental health support through a range of services that involved psychiatric assessment, psychological counselling, lifestyle modification and even group wellness activities.

The Psychological Health and Wellness Clinic (PHWC), established in 2017 in partnership with SAJIDA Foundation, is a global standard mental health clinic and a one-stop centre for treatment of individuals experiencing psychological distress of any nature. Throughout Bangladesh, PHWC seeks to provide the highest levels of service, geared towards effective care and ensuring availability of supportive mental health care. Along with its regular psychiatric evaluation and assessments to better treat mental health, PHWC also provides different services to cater to the needs of different clients. With different group activities and wellness workshops such as arts and crafts, music, painting alongside outside excursion, it not only ensures participation of clients with all kinds of tastes, but also creates a platform where like-minded people can come in, bond, and know they are surrounded by people they can reach out to.

 On World Mental Health Day (October 10), let us remember that centres like PHWC play an important role in breaking down the walls of silence and stigma around mental health issues and reach out to so many of those who are suffering quietly, behind closed doors, before it is too late. If you or anyone you know are suffering from depression, anxiety or any other mental illness, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. One phone call could be the difference between life and death.

For more information on PHWC or to avail PHWC services visit

(Fictitious names have been used to protect privacy)


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