Rise in suicide cases troubles Bangladesh health activists

About 28 people take their own life each day, police say
Rise in suicide cases troubles Bangladesh health activists

Bangladeshi activists form a human chain to mark World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10 in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka (Photo by Hasan Raja)

Bangladeshi activists and mental health experts have expressed grave concerns over the rise in suicides in recent years and called on the government to take effective measures to tackle it.

The concerns were raised as activists formed a human chain in front of the National Press Club to observe World Suicide Prevention Day.

Brighter Tomorrow, a voluntary organization promoting awareness to prevent suicide in Bangladesh, organized the event Sept. 10.

"Suicides are rising among young people. They are very emotional and quickly decide to commit suicide when they face difficult situations," Joyosree Jaman, a journalist and founder of the organization told ucanews.com.

Social unrest, family and relationship breakdowns and declining family bonds are among the main contributing factors behind the rise in suicide cases, she added.

Some 59,760 people have committed suicide in Bangladesh over the past six years, according to police figures.

In 2010, 9,663 people took their own lives, according to police, while in 2013 the figure had risen to 10,129, or about 28 people a day, they said.

Many use pesticides to kill themselves, according to the police.

Bangladesh currently ranks 10th on the World Health Organization's global ranking of suicide-prone nations, up from 34th in 2012.

Experts say suicides are more common among people aged 15-50 and from poor and lower middle-class backgrounds.

"Apart from frustrations, drug addicts and schizophrenia patients are more likely to commit suicide. Sometimes they go to doctors, but often at the final stage … so suicides can’t be prevented," Dr. Farzana Rabin, a psychiatrist and associate professor at Holy Family Red Crescent Medical College in Dhaka told ucanews.com.

"Many people don’t consider suicide as a disease, so they don’t go to doctors [psychiatrists]," she added.

Apart from a lack of awareness among people about preventing suicides, Bangladesh grapples with an inadequate number of doctors and hospitals to tackle a rising number of suicide attempts, according to Dr. Helal Uddin Ahmed of National Institute of Mental Health.

"Altogether, there are about 210 psychiatrists in the country. There are no psychiatrists working in government medical colleges and district hospitals across the country," Ahmed said at a press conference in Dhaka on Sept 8.

"In addition to medical treatment, patients need family and social support to recover, but these are often lacking," he added.

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Christians are not immune from the rise in the number of suicides, says Dr. Edward Pallab Rozario, secretary of Catholic Bishops’ Health Care Commission.

"We don’t have exact data, but about 10-15 Catholics commit suicide every year and the victims are mostly young people," said Rozario.

Good family bonds, awareness programs in villages and counseling sessions in educational institutions can help prevent people from taking their own lives, he said.

"To tackle the suicide problem, the government needs to improve the mental health sector and our families need to play a vital role by maintaining a frank and open atmosphere," he added.

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