Eradicating social stigma to seeking help | By Mehr Jan

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Eradicating social stigma to seeking help


UNEMPLOYMENT is leading to an extreme state of turmoil and instability within the country. The jobless are extremely concerned over how to make both ends meet, with rising inflation and financial burdens escalating indefinitely.

The dire conditions have led to individuals taking extreme action which includes suicidal attempts.

The recent case of a jobless father-of-four jumping to his death had caused quite a stir. CCTV footage of the suicide has already gone viral, depicting the strained man climbing onto the railing fence and throwing himself down soon after.

This incident took place only four days after a young media worker was found hanging in his apartment — also due to suffering from unemployment in Karachi.

While there was panic already, the extent to which a person is willing to go to come out of his misery and hopelessness at failing to provide for his family and children, simply depicts that the social stigma on depression and suicidal thoughts needs to come to an end.

According to a recent survey conducted, it was determined that around 35 people take their life in Pakistan every day.

That is every day and one person for every hour. These frightening statistics serve as a major wakeup call.

They point towards a convoluted society, a society which is not willing to look at a glaring problem straight in the eye which needs immediate and undivided attention.

While there are online support groups which are making an impact, allowing anonymity for people to share their concerns and get the consultation needed, it is far from the on-ground reality.

Individuals from lower middle class and middle class are facing extreme communication restrictions as well as cultural limitations.

There is no open dialogue available for them to discuss their dire conditions as having a genuine environment allowing for people to become vocal on such aspects to their livelihood is going to remove the stigma associated with it.

It was learned from the survey that about 45% of the respondents said that they have had someone speak to them about feeling suicidal.

This suggests that communication is essential. And while many are willing to speak to their allies and close ones, it isn’t essentially being done with an expert.

Someone who would be able to provide and give back helpful and professional advice on how to tackle the current turmoil.

Health experts state that mental illness and financial troubles are usually the leading reasons for someone to suffer from suicidal thoughts.

While the current political atmosphere doesn’t hold much promise to the economic downfall, what is needed right now more than ever is an open dialogue about our fears and worries.

The taboo associated with such topics needs to be eradicated, allowing the restrained part of the Pakistani community to speak and express their fears.

Fears over uncertainty and the inability to secure a comfortable livelihood for themselves and their family.

It is high time we remove the barriers to speaking openly and allow for people to seek help and gain the social support they need.

—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Islamabad.

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