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Sumithrayo marks World Suicide Prevention Day

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Sumithrayo commemorated World Suicide Prevention Day at Independence Square, and a large audience gathered to participate in the event open to the general public. Many questions were directed to the panel of eminent persons who participated in the discussion. The panel included Dr. Razia Pendse, WHO Representative in Sri Lanka; Thirupathy Suveendran, WHO Colombo; Dr. Velauthapillai Jegaruban, MOH, Govt. Addiction Centre Killinochchi Hospital, Dr. Neil Fernando, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, and U.R. De Silva, President of Sri Lanka Bar Association.

The keynote address was by Dr. Razia Pendese who spoke about the significance of the theme ‘take a minute and change a life’ and articulated how communities can contribute by reaching out to people in distress. She also detailed why some people have suicidal feelings and what signs we must look for in a vulnerable person.

Well-known theatre personality Indu Dharmasena shared his thoughts on why people who are distressed must seek help and why communities must also be sensitive and reach out to vulnerable people. Among the other speakers were Subodha Pilimatalawwefrom Seven Media Group who spoke about the digital campaign ‘We Can’ where celebrities speak openly about depression and Ornella Gunasekera who narrated her own story of how she overcame depression.  

The Rotary Club of Sri Jayawardenapura University staged a short, interesting skit that centred around – taking a minute to change a life.

A pertinent fact that emerged from the panel discussion was that various web sites that quoted suicide statistics in the internet still ranked Sri Lanka as No. 4 in the world when in actual fact we should be between No. 20 to No. 24 with 16 suicides per 100,000. This is expected to be rectified soon when WHO statistics are updated. The WHO also offered assistance to monitor and record attempted suicides in Sri Lanka to obtain a clearer picture. U.R. De Silva commented on the need for helplines like Sumithrayo to be indicated at the end of reports on suicides.

The event concluded with participants lighting candles in memory of those who have lost their lives. 

Sumithrayo provides confidential emotional support and is a free service, open 365 days – from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (including holidays). Call: 2692909, 2683555, 2696666. Visit: 60B Horton Place Colombo 7. Email: sumithra@sumithrayo.org.


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