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10 September, 2019 12:56:14 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 10 September, 2019 11:57:30 AM


High suicide rate among young people causes concern

133 children commit suicide, ten others make attempt in first eight months of 2019: BSAF report
Saugato Bosu, Dhaka
High suicide rate among young people causes concern

In November last year, when the news of the death of Aritry Adhikary made headlines, it shed light to an age-old problem that remained under wraps for years in Bangladesh. Aritry, a ninth-grader of the Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, committed suicide as she couldn’t stand “abusive statements” hurled at her allegedly by her teacher. She took her life in a quiet corner of her room at home. Underage suicides like Aritiri’s have actually been on rise in the last couple of years,  according to the Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF). BSAF data shows that at least 133 children had committed suicides and 10 others made suicide attempts in the first eight months of 2019. Last year, the numbers were 298 and 23 respectively. In 2017, the numbers were 213 and 11 respectively.

In 2016, the number of underage suicides was 149, while the number of attempted suicides was three. Terming this rising trend of suicides among underage people “a very alarming” trend, experts say that time has come to raise awareness against suicide and about the issue of good mental health in general. The world is observing “World Suicide Prevention Day” today (Tuesday). Experts say the time is ripe to raise awareness centring on this day. This year the theme of the day is "work together for preventing suicide".

The Independent talked with experts in the field and tried to find out the reasons underpinning the problem. Dr Nehal Karim, chairman of the sociology department of Dhaka University, said suicide was a major public health problem with far-reaching socioeconomic, political, and emotional consequences.

He also said there were two types of people who commit suicide: persons with serious self respect and those with a frail mentality and personality. “Now, if you talk about underage suicide, teenage suicide or child suicide, whatever you name it, also has the same characteristics,” he noted.

Dr Nehal Karim further said before becoming an adult who can make decision for himself or herself, an underage person possesses extra sensitivity and insecurity. “It is not easy for a teen to open up about a personal problem to just anyone, especially for an introvert teenage person,” he added.

He said this sense of insecurity and extra sensitivity possessed by an underage person is often triggered by an event over which s/he loses control or emotion. “A bad result in any exams, or a break-up, or even a petty brawl with parents could work as the trigger,” he added.

Dr Nehal Karim also said that the problem was only aggravating in this competitive age. “In Bangladesh, we barely know the importance of good mental health and don’t have  any awareness about suicides. We need to create this awareness for our future generations,” he added.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 800,000 people die by suicide every year. Furthermore, against each suicide, there are more than 20 suicide attempts.

Suicides and suicide attempts have a ripple effect that impacts on families, friends, colleagues, communities and societies. Much can be done to prevent suicide at individual, community and national levels.

Suicide occurs in all regions of the world. In fact, 79 per cent of global suicides happen in low- and middle-income countries.

National emergency call centre 999 said from January 1 to August 31, they received 176 phone calls regarding suicidal attempts.

In Bangladesh, one particular organization—Kan Pete Roi—has been giving emotional support to potential suicide victims. It basically functions as a call centre where a person can call and ask for counselling.

Talking with The Independent, Ashik Abdullah Shuvo, outreach executive of ’Kan Pete Roi’, said people from all over the country call their numbers to get emotional help. They have about 50-60 volunteer consultants who work in shifts and take calls from emotionally broken people. “Most of the calls we got from in the age group of 20-40 years. In the last the last six years, we got about 18,000 calls. Among them, 20 per cent people had suicidal thoughts and 5 per cent of them were at highly risk,” said Shuvo.

“We give the same priority to all our callers. Some may have small issues of being depressed, but we can’t justify how big the issue means for him. It varies from person to person,” he added. In Bangladesh, police data shows the number of suicides has been increasing sharply in the recent years. Data shows 11,095 people committed suicide in 2017, 10,600 in 2016, 10,500 people in 2015 and 10,200 in 2014.

On average, 30 people committed suicide every day in 2017. Bangladesh Society for the Enforcement of Human Rights (BSEHR) executive director Mostafa Sohel Ahmed said, impulsiveness, hopelessness, drug abuse, childhood trauma and past attempts are the leading causes of suicide attempts.





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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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