Sneha gives second life for 6 lakh people so far

Chennai: The suicide prevention centre, Sneha, since its inception, has reached out to more than six lakh distressed people. News Today meets up with Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar, a consultant psychiatrist who set up this centre in 1986.

Q: Why did you start Sneha?
A: When I was doing Psychiatry, there were a lot of conditions for which we did not have treatment at that time. Whereas, suicide was something that could be prevented, but we were not able to do it. Whatever I read in the books on suicide risks, was completely different from what I saw in reality in our country. So I felt that we should do more in research and intervention which is suitable for India.
Also, when I was doing Senior House Surgency in Madras Medical College, there was a young man who came with cyanide poisoning.
He took the extreme step due to love failure, but we were able to revive him. Two years later, I saw him happily married.
So I realised that if in time of crisis, support is given, suicides can be prevented. Hence, I started the venture.

Q: Is suicide a momentary thought?
A: There are three features of suicide- impulsivity, communication and ambivalence associated with it.
When they are impulsive, they may be thinking that life maybe unfair and not good. At that time they take the decision. Majority of the people who attempt or die by suicide, have told somebody that they don’t feel like living. We have failed to listen to them.

Eighty per cent of the people who have killed themselves are ambivalent about the decision. They would say that they it’s not like they really want to die, but they cannot go on living like this. So if they have some change, some difference, they want to live.

Q: What is the one liner or quote you tell your patients who are distressed?
A: When people come very frustrate and unhappy, I tell them Mother Teresa’s quote: “We all cannot do great things in life. But we can do small things with great love.” I really like this and thats what I believe.

The helpline number for Sneha is 2464 0050.

In need of people
The centre receives 80-100 calls a day. Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar says, “With just 56 volunteers, we have been receiving a number of emails and working 24 hours trying to save lives. We want more volunteers, particularly to man the nights.”

Naomi N