City Desperately Needs More Helplines To Control Alarming Rise In Suicides

helpline for suicide prevention
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With the alarming rise in suicide cases that saw the likes of IPS officer Himanshu Roy and spiritual guru Bhaiyyu Maharaj take their lives, it is more than evident that mental illness has invaded our society in much greater proportions than we envisaged.

Recent data reveals that Maharashtra and more specifically, Pune has seen a large spike in suicides pointing to the imminent need for more counselling facilities and helplines in the city.

Pune365 spoke to several experts, informed citizens and others who opined that it was significantly important to speak and spread awareness across the city. 

Jay Singh, a designer who was at the receiving end during his college days, says that the fact that people brand you mentally and psychologically unsound, prevents you from speaking to even your own family..

The fear of judgement is always there. Moreover you cannot think about anything else. Every act of people around you makes you believe that suicide is the only option, he shares.

According to Vikramsinh Pawar, senior programme coordinator at a Pune based suicide prevention organisation, Connecting, says that out of the number of calls they get on their toll free helpline numbers (18002094353 and 9922001122 -12PM to 8PM), the maximum are from Maharashtra.

The volunteers at the NGO receive 8-10 calls per day, (around 3500 calls in 2017) most of which are new callers, 50% of which are from the state.

According to a recent news report, “From 2014 to now, 3,367 people have attempted suicide in Maharashtra and according to the State Emergency Medical Services, the highest number of cases were from Pune -254.”

Other programs run by the NGO:

Suicide Survivor Support: hospital and home visits to emotionally support people who have attempted suicide.

Peer Educators Program: target audience is aged 13-15 years.

Awareness Program: sensitising people about emotional distress.

“Most of our callers tend to be in the age group of 18 to 45 years and are mostly male. The key factors that are at the root of extreme emotional distress to people are financial problems, relationship issues, domestic violence, bullying by peers, unable to get admission in a desired college or a desired stream of education and unemployment among other concerns.

“There is however a steep rise in the number of calls when the results of exams are being declared.

Connecting has trained (in Mindful Based Active Listening) about 1200 volunteers and have been successful in reaching out to about 23,000 people in the past 10 years.

“In India, we often tend to be extremely insensitive and judgemental towards people who are feeling suicidal or are talking about mental health and emotional distress.

Most often, we end up thinking that it is attention seeking and especially with the youth who feel that the value of life has DIMINISHED.

Pawar strongly believes that there ought to be more NGOs working towards suicide prevention.

There are a lot of organisations in India who are working for mental health, but very few who are dedicated to the cause of suicide prevention.

“We also think that the government should publicise the helpline numbers and create awareness about mental health and why it is important.”

Dr Manish Bajpayee, leading City Psychiatrist says that he sees at least one patient every week who is planning and is serious about committing suicidal.

Apart from listening and counselling, we may need to give them some anti-depressants, ECT, etc but only after determining their intensity level.

Expert Advice:

  • Listen to the person and explore the reason behind his behaviour and the extremity of his act.
  • Don’t ignore the warning signs- discuss with them if they think negative and end up thinking of suicide.
  • Have a non-judgemental attitude- listen and empathise first, advices should then follow.
  • Ensure his safety, do not leave him alone and call for help.
  • Agree with their problem and try to help find them.
  • Talk to them about the positive side, or how they can regret about this decision.
  • Talk to the person you trust or call on a helpline and discuss your problem and ventilate.

Look For These Symptoms:

  • Final Act: giving away their personal belongings to people.
  • Writing goodbye notes or saying so, or letters not blaming anyone.
  • Mentioning dying, death, suicides frequently.
  • Discovering any implements that haven’t been discovered earlier.
  • Sudden change of behaviour, being withdrawn, likes to be alone, addictions, rash driving, acts of impulsivity or self-harm.


  • Passive death ideation.
  • Suicidal ideation- thinking about suicide.
  • Planning
  • Trying to attempt
  • Completion


#Befrienders- An umbrella of suicide prevention helplines in India can locate people looking on the internet for ways to end their life and show the helpline numbers in that particular country or area.

Loveleen Kaur

Loveleen Kaur

She loves travelling, dogs, sarcasm, humour and anything that spells F O O D, in that order. A writer on a journey to make positive stories a morning ritual and give society what it needs the most - optimism !!

Reach her at or tweet @KaurKaur18
Loveleen Kaur