Open House: How to prevent suicides among senior citizens?
A challenge to mental health
Beyond the physical threat, Covid-19 has also deeply hurt our ineffable inner selves. Shocking suicide by persons across all sections of society, particularly senior citizens, speaks about wider mental health challenges in the pandemic times. As the pandemic fuels anxiety and loneliness, we do not even know its end. We do not know whether we will be safe or when we will be reunited with loved ones in distant lands or regain ascendant career paths. We all must take care of our near and dear ones, especially our elders during this crisis by ensuring the required companionship so that they don’t feel depressed because of loneliness.
Sanjay Chopra, Mohali
Help old couples living in vicinity
Covid-19 has adversely affected mental health of all sections of society. Senior citizens are more prone to mental ailments due to their age. However, since lockdown restrictions have been eased elders can go to parks and join their peer groups while maintaining social distance and taking other precautions. People living in elders’ vicinity can help the latter as most aged couples live alone in the tricity.
Dr AP Singh, Chandigarh
A myth created by bureaucrats
A myth has been created by bureaucrats in the Health Ministry while issuing Covid-19 safety guidelines that senior citizens above 65 years are more prone to infection if they venture out of their homes. This assumption is negated by the average age of the Covid fatalities at the national level. Scoffing at this assumption all political leaders, businessmen, governors, and judges keep themselves pre-occupied with normal routine while stepping out of their homes. Elders, who are not tech savvy and cannot use social media to interact with their friends, are more prone to depression. A suicide by an old man at Sukhna Lake last week is the case to point. The authorities must spare a thought for the mental well being of senior citizens and reconsider the existing guidelines.
SC Luthra, Chandigarh
Keep them busy with routine chores
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown, stress levels have increased manifold among senior citizens. They should be kept busy in their routine life. More interaction with senior citizens is the need of the hour. Senior citizens can do yoga, read books and newspaper, listen to music, sing, dance and go for morning and evening walks to enjoy the flora and fauna. They must learn new things to reduce the stress level, which otherwise leads to suicide.
Col TBS Bedi (Retd), Mohali
Need source of entertainment
The fear of coronavirus has created stress in minds of the people, particularly elders. Suicides cases have been increasing in the tricity, but these cannot be directly related to the virus. There is a dire need to look after elders, who stay alone. Awareness through counselling may help elders to de stress. As elders cannot socialise during the pandemic, they need some source of entertainment. Regular visits, phone calls, small gifts on anniversaries and birthdays can help elders feel better. People living in elders’ vicinity must speak and listen to them regularly so that they feel part of society.
Wg Cdr Jasbir Singh Minhas (Retd), Mohali
Launch mobile app for elderly
A mobile app solely meant for senior citizens necessity can be designed. All essentials must be provided to them safely and on time. A dedicated TV channel for senior citizens, which shows religious lectures, motivational talks, news and health-related shows can also be started. Also, the authorities concerned must hire volunteers, who conduct a regular survey on senior citizens. Children must stay in contact with their elders and spend happy time with them.
Jasleen Kaur, Mohali
Make parks people-friendly
Man is a social animal. The spread of Covid-19 has led to social distancing and lockdown, which has affected mental health of especially those, who are not computer savvy. Senior citizens come under this category. Younger members of the family do not permit elderly to move out. Although they are right, yet this has adversely affected the mental level of elderly. The administration should start mobile libraries with good and suitable books for senior citizens. Programmes based on religion and how to cope with stress and seclusion can be aired in the mornings and evenings on radio and TV. All parks should be made people friendly by providing benches so that elderly can sit after short walk and chat with peer groups.
NPS Sohal, Chandigarh
Organise feast to boost morale
The elderly have no one to talk to or share their problems. Earlier, many people regularly visited old age homes to meet them, but now the practice has stopped due to the pandemic. Organising a feast for the elderly might boost their moral and make them happy. It might prevent senior citizens from taking the extreme step.
Priyam Aggarwal, Chandigarh
Yoga, exercise can drive away boredom
Our senior citizens urgently need online counseling sessions for stress busting. Senior citizens should make yoga and daily exercise a routine so that they can lead a healthy lifestyle. They can also benefit from online yoga classes to keep themselves engaged and drive away boredom and loneliness due to physical distancing.
Dikshant Dhanda, Chandigarh
Social interaction can keep stress away
The Covid-19 pandemic has really changed the way we lived our lives. Senior citizens need social interaction to keep stress away, which Covid has hindered. So, they are getting depressed and resorting to suicides. We can call on senior citizens to inquire about their well being. We can even visit them while maintaining physical distance. Immediate family members of such people should be in regular touch with them. Social organisations can come forward to supply essentials to the elderly. Moreover, they should listen to gurbani and bhajans and watch programmes based on religion to keep themselves away from negative thoughts.
Bir Devinder Singh Bedi, Chandigarh
Insecurity gives way to helplessness
Obviously, senior citizens in the tricity, especially those living alone, feel unsecure amid the Covid-19 pandemic. They are more vulnerable to negativity, which burdens their minds with unpleasant thoughts, including suicidal attempts. Their insecurity is more attributable to their helplessness to move out for essentials and medicines. Therefore, there is a right opportunity for all those volunteers associated with various NGOs in the tricity to come forward to help old people by providing them essential items. There is no better service than the service to humanity at this critical juncture.
Hardeep Singh Sulach, Mohali
Start online portal for sharing problems
The Administration should start online portal for senior citizens to let them share their problems. Database of senior citizens of each sector should be maintained. Officials can reach senior citizens through video and audio calling so that the latter can come up with their pent up feelings. Whatsapp group can be formed to keep the elderly busy in good reading content and chatting. Online debates, group discussions and poetry recitation can be organised for the elderly. The authorities concerned can take senior citizens help for imparting moral values among students through storytelling sessions and citing their own life experiences. Volunteers of NGOs can roped in for visiting and interacting with senior citizens.
Abhilasha Gupta, Mohali
Loneliness not entirely to blame
There may be other reasons too for suicides. But blaming it on the loneliness etc due to lockdown may have become a trend these days to hide the real reason. It’s right to limit going out as far as possible for old people due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I am 72-year-old and go out of home only when it becomes necessary. Local markets, I go on foot with face mask on. For far off sectors, I go on Activa or car, but with full precaution. “Stay safe, stay healthy” is my moto. Wish all the same.
RK Kapoor, Chandigarh
Discuss family matters with them
It is not justified to blame only pandemic for recent suicide cases in the tricity. Senior citizens should be respected by the family members. Children should spend some time with elders to discuss domestic/family matters and drive away their loneliness. Elders should be allowed to move out, but reduce social interaction.
Sumesh Kumar Badhwar, Mohali
Self-centered attitude may be a reason
It has continuously been propagated over different media that the virus can affect the elderly because of less immunity and minimum chances of recovery. Consequently, they have to compulsorily remain indoors. During confinement like conditions, possibly they get depressed and have suicidal thoughts. But, with the passage of time as the overall situation will improve, number of suicide cases would subside. Family members should keep an eye on behaviour of their elders. They should make elders feel better emotionally and physically to avoid undesirable happenings.
Surinder Paul Wadhwa, Mohali
Kin should give them company isolation is big punishment
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic all residents particularly senior citizens are facing a lot of problems. When things were normal senior citizens regularly met in groups in parks and exchanged their happiness and sorrows. Due to restrictions such gatherings are not possible. As such senior citizens feel isolated. This could be main cause of their depression. Isolation is the biggest punishment. Now, family members of senior citizens should come to their rescue and spare time for them. They should give elders good company, have discussions, try to entertain them and never let them feel isolated till the restoration of normalcy.
Balbir Singh Batra, Mohali
Increase retirement age to 70 years
The words — senior citizen — is a state of mind. If a person is physically fit and able to walk and talk, he/she is as good as a normal citizen. In the West, for many jobs there is no retirement age. One is the teaching profession in universities. We think that anyone over 60 years is a burden. The average life span in the country is increasing. Hence, we should increase the retirement age to 70 years. This step will ensure total engagement of senior citizens for nation building. It will keep them involved. They will have the freedom to move out and interact socially.
Rajiv Boolchand Jain, Zirakpur
Treat them with compassion
A sizable chunk of the elderly population tops the tally of suicides committed during the out-stretched corona-induced lockdown, which is quite worrying. Truth be told. Incidents of depression, suicides, et al, which were unheard of during the times gone by, have increased manifold due to stressful lives. To cope with the growing menace, we need to go an extra mile to keep the elderly in good spirits. They may be given the leeway to de-stress themselves from the home-bound existence. The more they are involved in household chores, the more de-stressed they would be. We may ask our children to spend quality time with their grandparents, chatting off their old-age blues and stresses and strains. They can watch mythological soap operas and other programmes, which give tips to stay happy and healthy. We need to understand that the elderly need nothing but our personal attention and cheer on our faces.
Ramesh K Dhiman, Chandigarh
Be happy and stress free
Prolonged curbs, stay-at-home and curtailed public transport have adversely impacted our interaction. Generation-gap under one roof piles up feelings, which don’t vent and depression sets in. When blandishment of life are gone the coward sneaks to death and the brave lives on. This calls for building of mental resilience and ability to adapt to and cope up with adversities. “Nemo repente, fuit turpissimus” (no one becomes extremely vicious all at once). The elderly need to cultivate flexibility in dealing with different age groups in their family. Golden rule to be happy and stress-free, is to make others happy. To cope up with stress at community level, books, media and electronic gadget are our refuge to share and care when social meetings are taboo.
Lalit Bharadwaj, Panchkula
Elderly should Accept winds of Change
In fast changing society, senior citizens exhibit their displeasure for the new style of living. On the other hand, the young generation is quite impatient and aggressive in its thinking. This is a sparking point, which sets all relations on fire because ideology and preferences are poles apart. There should be an understanding between both generations. Elders have to embrace winds of change, but at the same time, young people must realise that one day they also will get old.
Anita Tandon, Kharar
Mental health services inadequate
Increasing suicides, particularly among senior citizens, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic is a serious issue and needs right focus to deal with. Our mental health services are grossly inadequate in resources and awareness. We are awfully short of psychiatrists at the national level, having just around 9,000, which means one doctor for one lakh persons. As per the WHO, there should be at least three doctors for one lakh people. It’s time we boost the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) and reduce suicide cases in the country. We need to discuss mental health openly. Let us reach out to senior citizens and help them with kindness and reassurance. Let us make our young mentally strong by encouraging them to face challenges of life head on.
Col RD Singh (retd), Ambala Cantt
Shift them to community centres
The recent spurt in suicides among senior citizens can certainly be attributed to the current pandemic that has deprived them of the freedom to move out of their homes. Strolling within premises is the best non-formal exercise that refreshes both body and mind. The authorities concerned in tandem with sons and daughters of the house would do well to shift their elders to the sector community centres, school halls, and other suitable places. There they should be provided entertainment such as TV, movies and music. Of course, those in charge of such amenities should ensure that instructions regarding wearing mask and social distancing are followed strictly by one and all. However, elders must be allowed to use such facilities on their own so that they have a feeling of being in control.
Dr SS Bhatti, Chandigarh
Society should take care of them
Senior citizens are more prone to suicidal tendency. There are many factors responsible for it, including lack of interaction, filial ingratitude, physical ailments, expensive medical treatment and heart-rending news on the TV and media. They have served society for 70 years or more. Now, it is responsibility of society to take care of them. Neighbours, NGOs, police, nodal officers and SHOs should maintain liaison with elders. They are like kids and society must behave like parents to take care of them.
S Chaudhary, Mohali
Revive old family bonds
Suicide is not a normal response to stress. Suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress and should not be ignored. With the right knowledge, family and friends can recognise warning signs of suicide. This can be the first step towards helping an at-risk individual find treatment of mental health conditions. This pandemic has made everyone home bound, especially senior citizens. Just make sure to spend time together and talk as much as possible to know what is happening in their lives. We must realise the dire need to bring back family bonding to have a peaceful and stress-free life.
Dr Shruti K Chawla, Chandigarh
Confinement no reason for suicide
Staying indoors cannot be blamed for suicides. The elderly have experienced harsh time such as wars, emergency, Partition and leprosy in the country. Social isolation of elderly is a concern and needs to be addressed. There might have been multiple personal problems to commit suicide. A person needs to be self-motivated and active in some productive work.
Dr Shailja Beniwal, Chandigarh
With the tricity reporting 60 to 65 Covid cases on an average every day, do you think Haryana and Punjab were justified in turning down the UT’s proposal for a total weekend curfew from Friday 7 pm to Monday 6 am in Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula?
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