Actionist Foundation holds symposium on suicide prevention, addiction

State minister for planning Shamsul Alam was the chief guest and former state minister Tarana Halim was the special guest of the symposiumCourtesy

The Actionist Foundation and Department of Narcotics Control at the University of Dhaka (DU) jointly held A symposium titled “Drug Addiction and Suicide Prevention: Role of Mental Wellbeing in Women Empowerment” at the R C Majumder Arts Auditorium on Sunday, said a press release.

State minister for planning was the chief guest at the programme and former state minister Tarana Halim was the special guest.

Professor Mahjabeen Haque of the educational and counselling psychology department of DU presented the keynote at the symposium.

She said, “A lot of people will say a lot of things when you live in a society. It’s better not to pay much heed to those. We must choose to respond to such situations instead of reacting to them in order to handle it easily. If we want to, we can easily bring about these changes to ourselves.”

“Most students claim that they don’t have anyone to listen to what they have to say. No one sincerely attempts to listen to them. Therefore, we must practise active listening from our own ends,” she added.

 “Drug addiction and suicide cannot be prevented by anyone alone. Family, friends and teachers must step forward in such cases. Those who commit suicide don’t objectively want to die. They want it as a relief from pain,” she added.

Special guest Tarana Halim said, “More than half of the population of Bangladesh is women. If we don’t pay attention to these women, if we don’t look after their mental health, then the majority of the population would not be proficient enough and with more than half of a population lagging behind, a country can never progress. This is the ultimate truth.”

She also said, “As women, it is one of our great misfortunes that every step of the way in our life we have to prove that we can. In the case of men, everyone assumes that they can. That’s why women have to put in extra effort. This is a mental pressure that they have to go through.”

“Those who think their mental illness or depression make them vulnerable, my advice to them is that they should go and seek professional help and openly ask their family for help. In the end, you can swim across your troubles as a team,” she added.

State minister for planning Shamsul Alam elaborated on how the initiatives undertaken by the government to actively ensure the welfare of women.

He said, “You have to ensure your own development. No matter what the circumstance is, you have to face and overcome it. You must become self-dependent. You must also develop the ability to make decisions. In summary there will always be competition but you must strive to keep up with the competition.”

He further said, “In Europe and America, the people cannot lie even if they want to. But we have a tendency to lie all the time. Although we have made progress in economic and social terms, our behavioural patterns haven’t made much improvement. Our morality and perspectives have not developed as expected. Even coming out of good universities, many people are not morally sound human beings.”

On the panel discussion session, Naima Nigar was the panel moderator and as Epu Ishrat, deputy secretary, planning section, ministry of youth and sports, Abeer Rajbeen, marketing lead for the Coca-Cola, Bangladesh and Achia Nila, CEO and founder of women in digital, were the panel speakers.