In mental health, India has a serious problem on its hands

The country has recorded the most suicides in Southeast Asia, and a host of social tendencies are to blame for its predicament

Updated - December 04, 2021 10:53 pm IST

Published - September 20, 2014 01:04 am IST - HYDERABAD:

A World Health Organisation (WHO) report on suicides (2000-2012) puts India right on top of the list in Southeast Asia. It may seem a dubious distinction, but mental health experts here feel the figures do tell a story: the lack of a support system for those with suicidal tendencies, people whose cry for help goes unnoticed.

As the world celebrated Suicide Prevention Week, doctors said suicides were on the rise in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, like States elsewhere. While there have been no concerted efforts to take up a full-scale study of suicides in both States, physicians and mental health experts accept that suicides have become common and are increasing.

“Rising suicide cases indicate that we are not doing enough to protect the basic right to life enshrined in our Constitution. There is also the problem of stigma associated to mental health, and there is no serious attempt to address this issue in India,” rues Associate Professor at the Institute of Mental Health S.R.R.Y. Srinivas.

WHO statistics say the average suicide rate in India is 10.9 for every lakh people. Interestingly, doctors observe that suicide rate was higher among the southern States compared to those in the north. It is the second leading cause of death among those in the age group of 18-29, and most suicides in India are by those below 44 years.

“In the south, people are inward-looking and generally do not direct their aggression [elsewhere]. Higher literacy has fuelled high expectations from life. I feel the real number of suicides is far more than what is being reported. There is a need to have population based studies and government strategies to help desperate individuals,” feels psychiatrist K. Jyothirmayi.

What could be reason for the young to resort to such desperate measures?

“Too many restrictions imposed by parents, and above all, the growing distance between parents and youngsters. Youth with low self-esteem take solace in social networking sites. They forget how to express their emotions in the real world. They need support but people hesitate to take help from psychiatrists,” Dr. Jyothirmayi adds.

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