EDITORIAL: Alarming trend

Increasing suicide rates should be taken seriously and preventive measures should be devised, based on an adequate knowledge of the important aspects of suicide

The fact that the suicide rate is increasing in Nepal should be a matter of concern. The number of suicides committed in the fiscal year 2015/16 stood at 4,667, over 300 more than the number recorded for the previous year, according to the data maintained by Nepal Police.

In the Kathmandu Valley alone, 400 suicide cases were reported. The suicide figure is more than double the figure of road deaths and nearly double the combined figure of road deaths and murders for the same period.

At least 597 people were murdered and 2,006 were killed in road mishaps. This rising trend over the years should bring the attention of the government to investigating the causes and taking possible and sensible measures aimed at minimizing the suicide rates in the country.

Translated into daily figures, more than 12 persons killed themselves. The most used methods of suicide in Nepal are hanging.

Other ways of killing oneself found in the country are jumping off a building or a cliff, burning, using a weapon, electrocuting and drowning in that order; but these ways cover only 118 cases.

There have not been any adequate research into the various aspects of suicide in the country, except from the raw data available, or the information gathered from death notes left by some of the people who committed suicide, or some snippets of information obtained from relatives, friends or others concerned of the victims of suicidal tendencies.

But these do not provide any systematic or organized study which is necessary for taking the best possible corrective measures; and even these inadequate and unorganized bits of information have not been systematically analysed for decision-making purposes.

On Saturday, to mark World Suicide Prevention Day, Metropolitan Police Range, Lalitpur organised a programme to discuss the impact of the increasing suicide rate in the country and the ways to deal with the problem, which it called a ‘medical emergency’.

Data show that women are more vulnerable to suicide but people from all walks of life have committed suicide.

Knowing why people commit suicide and what types of people are more likely to commit it and what can be done to minimize the suicide rate are aspects important for preventing suicide.

After somebody commits suicide, what happens to the bereaved family and relatives is altogether a separate matter that needs to be dealt with expertly as they suffer from trauma, and it is difficult to reach out to them easily as they are shattered psychologically and emotionally, with the added burden of social ‘stigma’ that tends to attach to the family where suicide occurs.

These traumatized people need the clinical care from mental health specialists and primary care providers, apart from the empathy and support of relatives and friends. Those identified as being at high risk of suicide include adolescents, drug addicts, persons suffering from terminal disease, victims of sexual abuse, and members of broken families.

Frustration, impulse, the fear of public shame or other factors may be responsible for suicidal tendencies. Mental health patients, such as those suffering from severe depression or bipolar disorder, are also prone to suicidal tendencies.

Therefore, the increasing suicide rate should be taken seriously and preventive measures should be devised, based on an adequate knowledge of the various important aspects of suicide.

Boost science

Science can make immense contributions to achieve the development goals set by various countries. The policy makers of Nepal have recognized this yet they have done little in order to promote science and technology.

The government policy on these has come under fire for failing to devise a method of being scientific which is not possible without doing science. Science cannot develop on its own without the support from sectors like industries.

There should be increased investment on science to use and develop local expertise.

Science should be used as a tool for accelerated development and also innovations. There should be brainstorming and debate on science about its importance. The media could also be used to explore the knowledge about science that would benefit all the stakeholders.

It is high time that science was prioritized so that the benefits accruing from it would ameliorate the living standard of the impoverished.