‘As many as 2.3 lakh Indians commit suicide every year’

Photo for representational purpose only.  

Suicide prevention needs a multi-pronged approach. For a country like India that accounts for the maximum number of suicides according to the Global Burden of Disease data, targeted interventions are a necessity.

In one such crucial exercise, psychiatrist and founder of SNEHA Suicide Prevention Centre, Lakshmi Vijayakumar, was part of drafting the National Suicide Prevention Strategy which has been submitted to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for its approval.

“According to the Global Burden of Disease data, 2.3 lakh people die due to suicides in India per year. This means every four minutes, one person dies by suicide. We have to act urgently and need to implement the National Suicide Prevention Strategy,” Dr. Vijayakumar said.

She noted that in young women aged 15 to 29 years, suicide was the top cause of mortality, overtaking maternal mortality. Last year, the Centre formed a committee to formulate the national strategy, she said, adding: “The strategy has been drafted and submitted to the Director General of Health Services (DGHS). After making changes, the DGHS has sent it to the Union Health Ministry. With World Suicide Prevention Day being observed on September 10 and World Mental Health Day on October 10, it is the right time for the Ministry to announce the strategy.”


Intervention is key

Universal intervention is a key element in the strategy. “In rural areas, pesticide consumption was very common. It is important to reduce the access to means of suicide. This could be done through banning pesticides, safer storage of pesticides, and providing immediate treatment,” she said. One-third of suicides are under the influence of alcohol.

“There is enough evidence to show reducing availability of alcohol and its consumption can reduce suicides,” she added. In selective intervention, those at risk should be reached with crisis lines, training gatekeepers, implementing school mental health programmes and those with physical or mental illnesses should be treated.

Indicated interventions are for those who are already suicidal or have attempted suicides. “Giving them a brief intervention of 18 months can reduce the number of repeat attempts. There should be survivor support groups for those who lost someone to suicide,” she added. For vulnerable groups such as the youth and women, she said, “We should take steps to prevent domestic violence. This could be through women education and empowerment. For the youth, we should improve their resilience, life skills and health-seeking behaviour.”

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 1:57:27 AM |

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