• The reasons are irregular work hours, stress of work and lack of personal space, as well as inability to meet extended family and friends.
• Most of the patients were between 25 and 40 of age, and more men than women reported the tendency of active ideation.
• About half of the patients do not have any history of mental illness in the past.
• Many of the patients are in regular touch with doctors outside the formal interaction period.
The months-long lockdown to prevent spread of coronavirus has taken a severe toll on the mental health of the people as doctors at Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurugram say as many as 70 per cent patients have contemplated suicide during this period. They say the impact is lingering and may take several months to stop suicide ideation.
“As many as 7 out of every 10 patients since the lockdown have said they felt suicidal during the lockdown. There is a clear and sharp rise from the pre-lockdown time when we saw such thoughts in 5 to 7 people out of every 10 patients. This is almost 70 per cent rise from March. The reasons for this rise are many – working professionals mostly complaining of irregular work hours, stress of work combined with lack of personal space as spouses are working from home. Most of them are living in the city away from their parents and families, and lack of physical meetings with friends and family have increased the stress and anxiety levels,” says Dr Shweta Sharma, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurugram.
Suicidal thoughts, also known as suicidal ideation, refer to a psychological state where the person thinks about suicide that can range from a detailed plan to a fleeting consideration. However, suicidal ideation does not include the act of suicide. There are two kinds of suicidal ideation: passive and active. While passive suicidal ideation refers to a state when one wishes themselves to be dead, but do not actually have any plans to commit suicide while active suicidal ideation is more than thinking about it – those who have active suicidal ideation plan how to do it along with an intent to commit suicide.
“The majority of the cases we received since lockdown are the cases of active ideation, which means almost 70%. Most of the patients were between 25 and 40 of age, and more men than women reported the tendency, which indicates the growing level of anxiety and mental health problems in them. About half of them do not have any history of mental illness in the past. We treat such patients with medicines, counselling, or talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Besides, many of these patients are in regular touch outside the formal interaction period such as meetings or teleconferencing. It may take these people several months before they can go back to a healthy mental state,” says Dr Shweta Sharma.