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Why does Nepal have a huge problem of suicide?

High rates of suicide in men, women and even adolescents stresses the urgent need to address mental health problems.

2022 Nov 04, 6:48, Kathmandu

Suicide rates in Nepal are very alarming. According to World Health Organization (WHO), Nepal, in 2012, ranked 7th in the world for highest suicide rate, with 24.9 suicides per 100000 people. Now, with the earthquake and the pandemic, suicide has doubled and is increasing every year in Nepal.

Female suicide in Nepal is becoming an even bigger problem. Despite of the lack of strong suicide surveillance, the suicide rate among women is revealed to be exceedingly high. Among women between, 15–45 years old in Nepal, suicide is the leading cause of death, accounting for more than 15 percent of the total mortality.

“Suicide is completely preventable, but we are still losing lives because of it, suicide is an illness, and like any other illness it can be treated, preventing suicide is the need of the hour, it is important to identify the commonly affected age groups. A major social revolution is required, we need clinical intervention on this matter,” says Dr. Ashish Dutta, Superintendent of Nepal Police. “Suicide is not always impulsive, many cases of suicide attempts are actually planned, we see that especially in people with mental illness,” he adds.

The current scenario surrounding suicide in Nepal, stresses the need to address mental health problems seriously. However, there is a lack of data related to mental health of the people in Nepal. This makes early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of mental health illnesses difficult. According to the Nepal Health Research Council (NHRC), Nepal lacks reliable and nationally representative data on suicide rates. In regards to suicide related data collection in Nepal, Dr. Dutta says, “ It has only been 10-12 years since we have been systematically recording data on suicide. As for data before that, we have no official records. ”

“However, just collecting data does not carry any meaning, psychologists and psychiatrists should analyze the data from a medical perspective,” he adds.

2016 study, published in the international Journal of mental health systems, ‘Suicide surveillance and health systems in Nepal: a qualitative and social network analysis’ deems it not possible to establish and implement national suicide prevention strategies without reliable statistics and comprehensive standardized reporting practices. Nepal needs collaborative reporting and shared accountability between law enforcement, administrative, and health sectors. Lack of systematic and comprehensive suicide data is hindering suicide preventions programs substantially.

Experts have linked suicidal tendencies to hopelessness. “When a person is in a bad situation and sees no possibility of improvement, the person is likely to be suicidal,” says psychologist Salonika Neupane. Many problems such as lack of opportunity, gender-based violence, and mental illnesses contribute to a person being suicidal. Similarly, in unprecedented circumstances when people loose what they valued the most is also found to lead people to be suicidal. A assessment performed in Nepal, by International Medical Corps in 2016 found 10.0% prevalence of suicidal ideation (15.1% in women and 5.7% in men) in Nepal. The study showed higher suicidal ideation in areas significantly affected by the earthquake of 2015 (Gorkha: 24.5%, Sindupalchowk: 25.1%).

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) suggests, talking openly about mental health, educating yourself and others and being conscious of the language while communicating about mental illness to reduce stigmatization surrounding mental health problems in Nepalese society. Meanwhile, mental health treatment should be normalized like any other health treatment.


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