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Opinion » Editorials

Posted at: May 26, 2018, 12:36 AM; last updated: May 26, 2018, 12:36 AM (IST)

Ease the suicide anguish

Statistics show burden of mental health condition
Ease the suicide anguish

It is a matter of pain that India continues to figure on the top in surveys on suicides. India has one of the world’s highest suicide rates for youth aged 15 to 29, showed the 2012 Lancet report. As per the 2015 data from India’s National Crime Records Bureau, the number of student suicides was 8,934 — tragically equivalent to one student committing suicide every hour. It suffered the same ignominy at the latest World Health Assembly in Geneva, as it came to fore that India’s suicide rate is the highest in South East Asia — 16.3 per one lakh persons per year, higher than the average of 13.2. Undoubtedly, it puts the spotlight on the underlying burden of mental health conditions. 

While suicide is an extremely complex issue and it is difficult to pin down its causes, mental health, specifically depression, is widely recognised as the most important risk factor. A study shows that 10 per cent of children (5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem, yet 70 per cent of them have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age. Resultantly, young people are increasingly feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope, impacting their work and family lives. Following evidence of growing work related stress leading to severe complications, the WHO included in its research data from employers regarding the mental health of their workers. It revealed a high prevalence (14 per cent to 37 per cent) of work-related mental illness in India. 

In view of such depressing figures, India must take timely interventions to diminish the incidents. The government must inject more funds into the pitifully-sparse budget allocated for preventive health projects. Improved surveillance and monitoring of suicide attempts and self-harm is a core element of suicide prevention. The role of communities in easing the anguish felt by members is vital. Parents and educators need to be trained to identify children suffering silently. Attention needs to be paid to easing the pressure among adolescent students to perform since exam-related stress and suicide episodes are reported with alarming regularity. These are preventable deaths and we can prevent them. Let’s do our best.

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