Most suicide cases go unreported

Kathmandu, September 10

Health experts said today that most suicide cases go unreported in our country.

Speaking at a programme ‘Preventing Suicide: Reaching out and saving lives’ to mark the World Suicide Prevention Day, 2015, Dr Nirakar Man Shrestha, senior consultant and psychiatrist, said only around one-third of suicide cases are reported.

“Social stigma, legal hassles and fear of police investigation are the factors that discourage people from reporting suicide cases,” said Shrestha.

Shrestha said most people commit suicide by hanging (71.6 per cent) followed by poisoning (25.12 per cent), jumping off a building (1.63 per cent), self immolation (0.75 per cent), use of firearms (0.55 per cent) and drowning (0.27 percent).“Suicide rates have increased of late, according to official figures,” he said, adding that 3.5 people per 100,000 committed suicide in 1987 followed by 13.05 per 100,000 in 2011 and 15.5 per 100,000 in 2015.

DIG Mingmar Lama said suicide cases have gone up significantly since the April 25 earthquake.

As many as 965 suicide cases were reported between mid January and mid April before, whereas 1,363 suicide cases were reported between mid April and mid-June. Altogether 4,350 people committed suicide in the fiscal year 2014-15, according to the Nepal Police. More than 11 persons committed suicide per day on an average after the April 25 earthquake.

“The temblor, its devastation and subsequent aftershocks added another dimension to the suicidal risk among survivors of the disaster. Ever since the earthquake, numerous cases of suicide have been reported. The tragedy and its effects had a negative psychological impact on the survivors,” said Lama.

Rishi Raj Ojha, president of Nepal Health Society, opined that suicide was traumatic to the victims’ families, friends as well as their community.

“The families of suicide victims are usually uncomfortable sharing their painful experiences due to social stigma. It is very important to reach out to those who have lost someone to suicide,” said Ojha, stressing that acts of affection to someone vulnerable to suicide could be a game-changer.

Mental health specialists and primary care providers should provide clinical care to the bereaved ones.

Youths, adolescence, divorced and single men or women, police and military personnel, professional groups, members of a broken family, housewives, victims of sexual abuse and drug abusers are high risk groups prone to suicide.

According to World Health Organisation’s recently released report ‘Prevent Suicide’, over 800,000 people commit suicide every year in the world. It says one person commits suicide every 40 seconds.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people in the 15-29 years age group while 77 per cent of global suicide deaths occur in low-middle income countries.