“Support those with mental health issues”

Stephen Vete shares his views during the Dr Mirdula Prasad first death anniversary at Tanoa Plaza on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

IF you see people who you think are not behaving as they are, isolating themselves more or talking about taking their lives, these are signs that should be taken seriously, says consultant psychiatrist Dr Ordille Chang.

Dr Chang spoke on how to rise as a society to support those with mental health issues at the first death anniversary for Dr Mridula Prasad held at Tanoa Plaza Hotel in Suva last Wednesday.

He said these signs should be taken seriously and often we shrug them off as someone really having a bad day.

“We never want to explore. If we do, we might be able to help them because we know that suicide allergy.

“Even the most severely depressed person that it is not constant, it is fluctuating and you have that opportunity to get that window of positivity in place. If they never reach out or you never reach out that will never happen,” Dr Chang said.

He says the other things apart from behavioural changes in people is the use of substances more than usual, such as alcohol and smoking, with young kids turning to marijuana.

“The other things for those who not so orderly start getting their lives in order, people start cleaning up things, giving away items, start calling up old friends saying ‘hi’ but they’re actually saying goodbye,” shared Dr Chang.

Speaking at the memoriam for Dr Prasad, who took her life last year, Dr Chang says in some incidences people thought that suicide is the solution to the problem, adding that is it a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

“We also know that people who attempt suicide often face some sort of stressor especially with the few months prior to the act, but in addition to that stressor, people are also facing chronic stresses in their lives so whether it’s financial, whether it’s relationship or whether it is other issues going on, they are dealing with a lot and the fact that they feel they can’t or are unable to share their problems with anyone is because they feel they might be judged they might not be correctly helped or they might think they’ll fall under fear.

“I do see so many times that when we meet people at workplace for instance you’d be like ‘hi, how are you’, but you’re not waiting to hear how they are, are you?

“You’re already down the hallway and sitting at your desk. No one really wants to know how you are or have the time to actually take that moment to actually explore.

“It’s a catchphrase, but no one really wants to share and that’s why people don’t share.

“They’ve realised you don’t really want to know all their problems because you’ve already shown that you don’t, and so you know especially in families and communities such as the medical community or NGO community.”

Dr Chang encourages families and friends that when you see the signs of suicide, be intrusive; enquire and speak to loved ones because it is important to keep them safe.

“I know especially for families and friends who might know someone for a long time, it becomes like ‘oh no, I won’t intrude’ or ‘they’ll get over it because they’ve gotten over it before’, but in this sense we have to be nosy, be intrusive even if it’s their fault, but that’s one of the difficulties we have is that we can’t be open and we’re not asking or even enquiring.

“If you think that someone is at risk, it’s important that you keep them safe,whatever you do, don’t let them stay by themselves, make sure they don’t have the means of hurting themselves and make sure that they do get help,” said Dr Chang.

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