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Listening can help prevent suicides, says psychiatric specialist

Last Update: 25/10/2019

Exclusive report by Shuhaida Mohd Said

ALOR SETAR, Oct 25  -- On Wednesday, Parliament was informed that 356 suicide cases were reported nationwide from 2014 to June this year, a shocking figure in a predominantly Muslim country.

In this connection, Dr Wan Mohd Rushidi Wan Mahmud, psychiatrist and psychologist at Kedah Medical Centre's Behavioural Medical Unit, observes that people around some suicide victims are aware that they are facing troubles but do not attempt to hear them out.

He told Bernama that suicides are no longer isolated cases and that the public needs to talk more openly about mental health and suicide.

"Educate yourself and others about the causes of suicide and the early signs of suicidal behaviour, sympathise with victims and learn to listen better ... just listen, do not preach.

"Most people who took their own lives really wanted to share their stories, but no one was willing to listen, so they kept it to themselves and when they could no longer take it, they took their own lives," Dr Wan Mohd Rushidi said. 

In some situations, people who attempt suicide, do not actually want to die - they just want attention, he explained, adding, "It could start with a cut in the stomach, then a slit in the wrists and this behaviour would be repeated several times.

If you come across a case like this, please pay attention because these actions can eventually lead to death". 

Moreover, what is worrying, is that the trend is not only prevalent among adults - it is also affecting children who are still in primary school, who are mostly depressed because of the pressures of education.

As such, he advised counseling teachers that if they came across such cases, to approach and talk to the children "because listening is very effective and if it seems very serious, refer these troubled students to the experts".

Dr Wan Mohd Rushidi also said that although individuals who had been diagnosed with a psychiatric problem by a specialist had completed treatment, it did not mean that they would completely recover within a short period of  time.

"The first six months after being treated or allowed to return home (if treated in a hospital ward), is critical as this is when most suicides occur", he added, advising families and close friends to be more alert and ensure that such individuals were provided with safe, comfortable and peaceful environments so that they could talk with ease.

Dr Wan Mohd Rushidi is a medical graduate from the University College and Middlesex School of Medicine, London and holds a Master of Medicine (psychiatry) and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in psychology, with over 25 years of experience in government hospitals.



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