- Nandini Murali launched a mental health helpline named ‘SPEAK2US’ during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- SPEAK provides guidance and support to suicide survivors and also people who have lost their loved ones to suicide.
According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the suicide rate in India has increased from 10.4% to 11.3% in 2020. It has been revealed that India recorded 153,052 suicides (an average of 418 daily) in 2020.
When the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit India, suicide prevention activist Nandini Murali set up a mental health helpline named ‘SPEAK2US’ to provide guidance and support to suicide survivors. She launched this helpline with the help of MS Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation (Madurai), as mentioned in THE TIMES OF INDIA.
Speak works for the suicide survivors and also those people who have lost their loved ones to suicide. The primary aim of this initiative is to create safe and non-judgemental spaces to change the pattern of conversations regarding suicide and make people aware of the importance of reaching out to people struggling with mental health issues as well as their families and loved ones.
Nandini also shared her own story of losing her husband to suicide and how this devastating incident encouraged her in taking this noble initiative. She was extremely traumatized due to this sudden tragedy. “I was embarrassed, I felt I would be judged. Since I work with marginalized communities, I am no stranger to stigma, and I realized that it was stigma operating,” she said.
“When someone dies of age or illness-related causes, there is empathy, compassion, and support, but it’s as if people impacted by suicide loss don’t have the right to grief,” Nandini explained. She mentioned that suicide is still not a socially acceptable death even in this 21st century and people usually prevent others from knowing that a person has died due to suicide.
Meanwhile, Nandini came across postvention services for survivors of suicide loss while surfing the internet and it became the turning point of her life. The stories of people who have lost their close ones to suicide inspired her a lot in starting ‘SPEAK’.
Nandini interacts with teachers, media professionals, and the general public regarding the importance of mental health awareness. She has also developed a module training for suicide prevention that can help people recognize the warning signs of suicide and how they can respond appropriately in such situations. “Women who lose their husbands or children to suicide are often blamed and shamed,” Nandini added further.
According to Nandini, providing unconditional love and care to people experiencing suicide loss can help them a lot in overcoming the situation. People should be more empathetic and less inquisitive regarding such sensitive matters, she later said.