Lahore: Trend of suicide increased by 24 percent this year
LAHORE: Two-thirds of the country’s population is reportedly suffering from depression, and a trend of suicide among the people has seen a sharp increase in the first quarter of this year. Lack of financial resources, insecurity and identity problems have pushed the suicide rate up by 24 percent as compared to last year. Professor Dr Muhammad Riaz Bhatti, one of the key psychiatrics in Pakistan, told Daily Times that considering the ratio between those who attempt suicide, men had more suicidal tendencies than women, as they are more aggressive and depressed due to financial problems.
According to different reports compiled by different rights organisations, including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), the Women Workers Help Line (WWHL) and the Civil Society Network Pakistan (CSNP), about suicide in the first quarter of this year, around 701 people committed suicide, and double this figure survived suicide attempts. This number shows a 24 percent increase in suicide attempts (both failed and successful) as compared to the number of cases reported in last year’s first quarter. A report by the HRCP shows that 392 cases of suicide were reported during the first three months of this year, out of which the number of males who committed suicides was 280 and females 112, while more than 160 people attempted suicides, of which 71 were females.
On the other hand, the WWHL recorded around 701 suicide cases during the last four month of the current year, while the CSNP reported that more than 700 suicide cases had been reported in the print and electronic media during this period. However, a number of cases also went unreported, and hence were not included in any of the reports.
Prof Dr Muhammad Riaz Bhatti, talking about the reasons behind the increase in suicidal tendencies, said that suicides in Pakistan had been an old social issue and remained a common cause of unnatural death, but for last couple of years, a minor increase had been observed. He said that the ratio showed that more males than females committed suicides. He said men were more prone to committing suicide than women merely because they are more aggressive and committed to what they say. “Men just go for it (suicide) without thinking,” he said. He was of the view that teenagers usually commit suicides due to identity crisis and lack of financial resources and awareness.
While describing the reasons, he said that insecurity had a major role in motivating people to commit suicide. He said that two-thirds of Pakistan’s population was suffering from depression, as they were not being provided basic facilities.
He said that according to the World Health Organisation, depression would be counted as the main disease among masses by 2020. Stressing the need to allocate funds for the mental well-being of the public, he regretted that Pakistan had never seen any amount pouring in for improvement of mental health. He urged government to make behavioural sciences a compulsory subject in the final year of MBBS in order to decrease the increasing ratio of depressed people.
Talking on the issue, WWHL representatives Azra Shad and Bushra Khaliq said that suicides were more common among the working classes where financial difficulties and loss of hope in the ability to provide for large families were generally the reasons cited for such extreme acts of despair.
They informed that the reason behind suicides among females was generally identified as “loss of control over their lives”, particularly in how families controlled their choices of a life partner. Moreover, married women from the working classes were weighed down by financial constraints and domestic disputes that made them hopeless about their future, they said. To a question, they said that it is very difficult to get accurate figures for suicide and attempted suicide because of religious prohibition and social stigma attached to such an act. They said that families often cover things up and try to give other explanations if a member of their family takes or tries to take his or her life.
They said that covering suicide cases had generally been difficult in the local culture due to a number of social stigmas and legal issues. Moreover, they said that suicide was considered a criminal offence, with punitive laws in place for the person attempting suicide. National suicide statistics are not compiled at a formal level, nor officially reported to the health organisations. Abdullah Malik of the CSNP said that a majority of men who commit suicide tend to be unmarried; the trend among women, however, was the opposite. He further stated that finance-based domestic problems are the main reason stated for suicides.