Helplines and counselling centres are the need of the hour, says expert

Bangalore continues to figure among the top four cities in the country with a large number of suicides.

Although there is a negligible downward variation in the suicides reported in 2011 compared to 2010, experts said it could not be termed as a decline in the suicide rate.

The city recorded 1,778 suicides in 2010, the highest for any city. The number has come down to 1,717 in 2011. It was 2,167 in 2009. Experts said for every completed suicide, there are at least 10 to 20 attempted ones that go unreported.

According to statistics released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in New Delhi on Tuesday, Bangalore follows Chennai, which recorded 2,438 suicides, the highest in the country. While Delhi recorded 1,385 suicides, 1,162 were reported from Mumbai.

Spike in cities

The number of suicides in cities has gone up — from 13,071 in 2008 to 18,280 in 2011. It was 13,675 in 2010. The steep increase in 2011 over 2010 is due to the emergence of 18 new mega cities (53 mega cities as per Population Census 2011), the NCRB report stated.

The suicide rate was 13.3 per lakh in 2007 which decreased to 12.1 in 2008. Thereafter a rising trend was observed (12.5 in 2009 and 12.7 in 2010). Tt decreased to 11.3 in 2011. The four metros — Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai — together have reported almost 36.7 per cent of the total suicides reported from 53 mega cities.

While Indore has reported the maximum increase of 98.6 per cent in one year (from 143 suicides in 2010 to 284 suicides in 2011), Patna has reported maximum decline of 73.2 per cent (149 suicides in 2010 to 60 in 2011).

Easy availability

Recommending the need for framing a National Suicide Prevention Policy, G. Gururaj, Professor and Head of Department of Epidemiology at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (Nomhans), told The Hindu the government should ban the easy availability of pesticides and drugs (i.e., without prescription). “This is one important thing because easy availability of these agents makes things easy for a vulnerable person contemplating suicide,” he said.

Attributing interplay of various factors to the rising suicide rate, Dr. Gururaj, who also heads the WHO Collaborating Centre for Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion in Nimhans, said the government should expand the availability and accessibility of mental healthcare facilities.

Pre-emptive measures

“Efforts should be made to increase awareness in the society on overcoming a crisis. It is also important for emotionally distressed persons to seek support in the initial stage,” he said.

“That apart, life skills education should be introduced in all schools and colleges. This will enable our younger generation cope better. Providing timely help to those in distress by increasing the number of help lines and counselling centres is also the need of the hour,” he added.