Can People Talking About World Suicide Prevention Day Trigger Suicidal Thoughts? Expert Weighs In

Can People Talking About World Suicide Prevention Day Trigger Suicidal Thoughts? Expert Weighs In

Trigger warnings have been a controversial topic. It has been argued that trigger warnings can actually have a negative impact and induce negative emotions in survivors. In fact, a study also provided evidence that trigger warnings can actually increase a survivor’s anxiety and remind them of the events of their past. It offers no help and in fact, trigger warnings can trigger survivors. Much in line with the same, if we think about it a day like World Suicide Prevention Day can actually work as a trigger for people suffering from suicidal thoughts or depression.

How Can World Suicide Prevention Day Act As A Trigger?

The word suicide may not be as triggering as the content around it. On World Suicide Day, all news and content portals share a large amount of content around suicide prevention and while they may have their hearts in the right place, it can make things worse for someone who is suffering from a mental health issue or suicidal thoughts. It could do more harm than good much like trigger warnings. But how do we know that this theory is correct? Well, I spoke to Consulting Psychiatrist Dr Rahul Khemani about the same and he had an interesting insight to share. Speaking about the issues, Dr Khemani said, “In our formal training, we were taught to not avoid any questions related to suicide because if we shy away from talking about it, it will (obviously) be unhealthy and patients will never open up about it. But, at the same time, on a day like World Suicide Prevention Day, seeing all the posters and graphics related to suicide, especially the rope visual can work as a trigger for a lot of people.”

Visual content regarding suicide can trigger unhappy thoughts and memories and may even trigger suicidal thoughts. Imagine feeling suicidal and then coming across a picture of a hanging rope, would it not add to the trauma? Another thing to note is that, on days like these social media and the internet is flooded with information about suicide prevention and mental health and while it may be helpful in nature, it can overwhelm survivors as well as people struggling with suicidal thoughts. And Dr Rahul Khemani agrees with us. “Considering that World Suicide Prevention Day is followed like a day, there can be an overload of suicide-related information on that particular day and someone who has suicidal thoughts or is at the brink of it may actually get triggered to the point of losing self-control. It can overwhelm patients and cause a spike in anxiety and depressive feelings and thoughts,” said Dr Rahul Khemani.


Also Read: World Suicide Prevention Day: Is Crime Rate The Reason Why More Indian Women Commit Suicide?

But How Can We Make It Less Triggering?

Apart from avoiding triggering visuals and graphics, limiting the content around suicide prevention on one particular day might just be the right way to go. Moreover, why should we only talk about suicide prevention and share literature around it in one day? Why not talk about mental health every day so as to normalise it and not overwhelm people on one particular day? Would that be better? Discussing the same, Dr Rahul Khemani shares, “Ideally, instead of making it a suicide prevention day, we should make it a suicide prevention year. Instead of sharing an overwhelming amount of content about suicide prevention, what we should be doing is sharing information little by little and getting the conversation going. At the end of the day, it is extremely important to remember that we should never shy away from talking or asking questions related to suicide and mental health because that is the best possible way to normalise such conversations and prevent any incidents.”

Well, I guess, it’s time we stop flooding the internet and social media with talks of suicide prevention on one day and instead make it a regular dinner table conversation. You never know when someone may feel comfortable enough to reach out to you in their time of need.

World Suicide Prevention Day: It’s Easy To Get Fooled By The Happy Exterior That Hides The Turmoil Within

Janvi Manchanda

​​She uses her pen to slice through patriarchy. She could be Geet one day, Wednesday Addams next. Writing is the bane of her existence and the object of all her desires!

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