Would like to share the request that we made on 16th May,2009 with the stakeholders in the state to finalize and strengthen the plan of action for averting suicides by the PLHIV in the state.
There have been some alarming developments which have led to suicides by four people living with HIV/AIDS in our state in a span of about two months.
Many of these most unfortunate developments could perhaps be a culmination of a series of undercurrents of stigma and discrimination fuelled by the misconceptions which are still prevalent. But the prevalent recession, retrenchments, closure of industrial units, reduction of job opportunities and rising difficulties in earning a decent livelihood by many, however, could have worsened the milieu predisposing the vulnerable irrespective of the sero-status to take such drastic steps.
The GSACS and GSNP+ are fully committed to pursuits like positive speakers’ bureau activities, strengthening of socio-psychological support for the PLHIV besides working for strengthening the income generation activities .Facilitation of a meaningful insurance scheme for them which may reduce the likelihood of such cases.
We must facilitate guidance centres/hel-plines (through our existing ICTCs, DIC, Jeevandeep projects, Community care centres, ART centres and link ART centres etc.) and with crisis management cells specially dedicated to prevention of suicides through effective counselling and ensuring of linkages for effective delivery of services.
Early identification of danger signs which must be picked by the counsellors, network and civil society at large by increasing the outreach of regular counselling and follow up services has to be ensured. It does sound a bit difficult at the moment because of several constraints but with forging of strong alliances and partnerships we all will ensure the same .
I feel that formation of suicide prevention cells, collating the meta-analysis of identification of risk factors in suicides/parasuicides (from departments of Psychiatry of AIIMS,PGI,NIMHANS etc.), roping in psychologists and psychiatrists along with facilitation of feasible ways of income generation and insurance for the PLHIV in the troubled time of recession ,may help us tide over the crisis.
I think involvement of the department of Psychiatry of all the medical colleges in the state for the different regions may go a long way in strengthening these pursuits.
Different organizations are meeting on 17th May,09 at the GSACS to find out ways of chalking out the required endeavours with inputs from the GSNP+ and other partners.This preliminary meeting and brainstorming would perhaps be a part of the long and sustained endeavour we all have committed ourselves to.
We have got the list of early risk signs of suicides translated into Gujarati so that we all can use it to prevent suicides through effective linkages with the psychiatrists and clinical psychologists with our ICTCs,DIC,DLNs,CCCs,ART and Link ART Centres.
Early identification of the risk and prevention of suicides at the community level itself is the strategy we are going to adopt with effective utilization of strong linkages with the professionals.
We shall meet tomorrow at at GSACS,Ahmedabad and later in other districts including a meeting on 25th May(Monday evening) at AP+,Vadodara where psychiatrists may be invited to help our pursuits.
The day coincides with the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial on which people gather around the world to remember those whom we have lost, and to express solidarity that we stand committed to find solution by working together to end HIV and AIDS.
We would urge all to extend wholehearted support to the same.