GANGTOK, 10 Sept:
World Suicide Prevention Day was observed today in Gangtok with a series of events starting with the cycle rally ‘Cycle Around the Globe’ at 7 30 AM. The cycle rally, a worldwide initiative of International Association for Suicide Prevention, was flagged off by former Indian football skipper, Bhaichung Bhutia.
More than 30 cyclists participated in the rally which started from MG Marg and covered Tashi View Point, Ganesh Tok, Chandmari and concluded at MG Marg. 11-year-old Ugen Dorjee Tamang was the youngest cyclist in the rally. Together the cyclists covered more than 500 kms which will be added to the total distance covered by cyclists across the globe in their effort to raise awareness for suicide prevention.
The day long programme was organised by San-Ker Hospital, Shillong and Freedom Facility, Gangtok with support from Health Department, Government of Sikkim, Sikkim State AIDS Control Society, DOTS, SummitTIMES, Hotel Royal Plaza, and Hub Outdoor.
After the cycle rally, the awareness program at MG Marg began at 10 30 AM with prayers by Freedom Facility residents. This was followed by the address of suicide attempt survivor, Lakpa Bhutia who shared his experience and journey of recovery.
The highlight of the day’s program was the panel discussion which had Dr CS Sharma [HOD Psychiatry, Health Department], Dr Sandy Syiem [Director, San-ker Hospital], Dr Praveen Somani [Psychiatrist], Krishna Kumar Chettri [Sub Inspector, Sikkim Police] and KC Nima [Project Director, Freedom Facility]. The discussion was moderated by Pema Wangchuk [Consulting Editor, Summit Times].
The discussion brought forth the need for a research institute, continued training for psychiatrists of the state and; need for civil society, healthcare professionals both in government and private sector and media to come together in an organized fashion to address the problem of suicide.
Chief guest for the program, Health Minister, Dr. MK Sharma, in his address, emphasised on the need to work together as a community to prevent suicides.
“We must take it seriously when someone talks of attempting suicide, even if it is said casually and counsel them to get help. Counselling and awareness can help to address the problem of suicide,” he stated.
Dr. Sharma said that hope is the only way of living life and family support is the most important support in one’s life so people should understand the value of family and spend some time with family every day.
As the per the data, the suicide rate of the state is alarming but it can be prevented through awareness and counselling and we can still work more seriously on this, he added. Appreciating the effort of the event organisers, Dr. Sharma has assured all possible help from the department and the government.
He also suggested using technology to reach help to those who need it by developing mobile apps for counselling or some other innovation so that help is easily accessible to people.
Also on the day, the Lungsigang family of Tathangchen felicitated the 24/7 Suicide Helpline team. They also gifted a set of items required for the helpline office.
Today’s program also saw cultural performances by students of various schools and Music in Motion Dance Academy.
The programme was attended by Director General Health Department, HoDPsychiatry Department STNM, officials from the Health department, concerned citizens, students from various schools around Gangtok.