Nepal | August 09, 2020

Pay attention to mental health, prevention of suicide: WHO

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, July 2

With the COVID-19 pandemic still spreading and impacting people in multiple ways, World Health Organisation today called upon South-East Asia region countries, including Nepal, to pay greater attention to mental health and suicide prevention.

“Hitting lives and livelihoods, the pandemic is causing fear, anxiety, depression and stress among people. Social distancing, isolation and coping with perpetually evolving and variegated information about the virus has triggered and aggravated existing and pre-existing mental health conditions, which need urgent attention,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director, WHO South-East Asia region. Stigma related to COVID-19 infection may also lead to feelings of isolation and depression, the regional director said, adding that another precipitating factor impacting mental health amidst COVID-19 could be domestic violence, which is reported to have increased during nationwide lockdown in the region. “Besides curbing further spread of the pandemic, early identification of mental health conditions, recognition of suicidal behaviour and appropriate management via multi-sectoral approach is crucial,” Dr Khetrapal Singh said. Suicide claims almost 800,000 lives every year globally and is the leading cause of death among young people.

Evidence shows that for each adult who dies of suicide, there are more than 20 others attempted suicide, read a press release.
WHO South-East Asia region accounts for 39 per cent of global suicide mortality.

“Though preventable, suicide has become a serious public health problem. Survivors of suicide attempts and their family often face stigma and discrimination in many forms. The impact of suicide on families, friends and communities is devastating and far-reaching,” said Dr Khetrapal Singh, adding, “In these challenging times, we must work towards providing comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health and social-care services in community-based settings, as outlined in WHO South-East Asia Region’s Suicide Prevention Strategy.”As individual vulnerabilities and socio-cultural factors differ within populations, the Regional Suicide Prevention Strategy guides the countries on strategising and planning for suicide prevention via multi-sectoral public health approach. “These initiatives are most needed today.

We must work in tandem towards promoting mental health and preventing suicide,” he said.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on July 3, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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