Sui­cide can be pre­vented

Bhutan Times - - Editorial -

In Bhutan, sui­cide deaths ranks among the top six lead­ing causes of deaths af­ter al­co­holic liver dis­ease, other cir­cu­la­tory dis­eases, can­cers, res­pi­ra­tory dis­eases, and trans­port deaths. Sui­cide deaths out­num­ber the com­bined deaths due to TB, malaria and HIV.

In a five year re­view of sui­cide cases from 2009 -2013 in Bhutan, a to­tal of 361 sui­cide deaths were doc­u­mented by the Royal Bhutan Po­lice. This is an av­er­age of 73 sui­cide cases in a year or six sui­cide deaths in a month. The com­pleted sui­cide rate in Bhutan is 10 per 100 000 pop­u­la­tion slightly lower than the global rate of 11.4 per 100 000 pop­u­la­tion per year.

The pro­por­tion of sui­cide deaths among all deaths is 4.5% higher than the cor­re­spond­ing pro­por­tion of 1.4% in the low mid­dle in­come coun­tries. Sui­cide oc­curs among the most pro­duc­tive age groups; 87% of deaths oc­curred within the age group of 15-40 years. Bhutan has re­mained steady and rather in­creased par­tic­u­larly in 2012 and 2013.

In Bhutan, for ev­ery 4.5 sui­cide deaths there is one sui­cide at­tempted case recorded, in­di­cat­ing gross un­der re­port­ing of the at­tempted cases. The Health Man­age­ment In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem (HMIS) of the Min­istry of Health has been col­lect­ing data on “in­ten­tional self harm” since 2010. Cases of in­ten­tional self harm re­ported in the health fa­cil­i­ties ranged from 502-682 cases while only 3-5 deaths due to in­ten­tional self harm which are likely sui­cide deaths were recorded in health fa- cil­i­ties dur­ing 2009-2013.

Sui­cide is a com­plex hu­man be­hav­ior, with no sin­gle cause. Psy­cho­log­i­cal, so­cial and cul­tural fac­tors in­ter­act to lead an in­di­vid­ual to a sui­ci­dal be­hav­ior. Links be­tween men­tal ill­ness and sui­cide are well es­tab­lished, but there are com­bi­na­tions of other fac­tors that af­fect an in­di­vid­ual’s life such as drug or al­co­hol abuse, so­cial iso­la­tion, poor fam­ily and per­sonal re­la­tion­ships, lack of so­cial sup­ports and dif­fi­cult eco­nomic con­di­tions that in­crease the risk of sui­ci­dal thoughts and be­hav­iors.

Sui­cide is pre­ventable to a large ex­tent through col­lab­o­rated ef­forts of mul­ti­ple sec­tors in­volv­ing both gov­ern­ment and non-gov­ern­ment sec­tors. Com­pre­hen­sive, syn­er­gis­tic ap­proaches are re­quired to ad­dress an is­sue as com­plex as sui­cide; no sin­gle ap­proach or or­ga­ni­za­tion can pre­vent sui­cide on its own. In a highly spir­i­tual Bhutanese so­ci­ety, re­li­gion and spir­i­tu­al­ity may en­gen­der so­cial co­he­sion and sup­port­ive com­mu­nity. Bud­dhism also rec­og­nizes sui­cide risk fac­tors such as al­co­hol and drug use as a root of mis­deeds.

Fur­ther past sui­cide at­tempters must be given enough ad­vo­ca­cies to lead a healthy life. It is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the so­ci­ety, in­di­vid­u­als and all re­spon­si­ble cit­i­zens to help and pre­vent this. The Lhengye Zhungt­shog has al­ready di­rected the Task­force mem­bers through the Min­istry of Home and Cul­tural Af­fairs to de­velop Sui­cide Preven­tion Plan and hope­fully the ac­tion plan will be fi­nal­ized and put in place.

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