By addressing issues that are relevant to India, the NSPS seems to be on the right track to achieving its objectives.
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IN India, suicide is a significant yet frequently disregarded public health concern. It is surrounded by taboos, stereotypes, and stigma. Each suicide death is a tragedy that affects not only the victim(s) and survivor(s), but also the family and community as a whole. The first step to solving a problem is to acknowledge its existence.
Suicide is the second greatest cause of mortality for both women and those between the ages of 15 and 29 years around the world. In India, suicide claims more than a lakh lives annually. The suicide rate during the previous three years has increased from 10.2 to 11.3 people per 100,000 of the population.
Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, and Karnataka had the highest percentage share of suicides in the period of 2018–2020, with rates ranging from 8 to 11 per cent, according to information from the National Crime Records Bureau (‘NCRB’). The most recent NCRB data states that issues with one’s job or career, loneliness, abuse, violence, issues with one’s family, mental illnesses, alcoholism, financial loss, and chronic pain are the top causes of suicide in the country.
63 per cent of the persons who died by suicide made less than one lakh rupees annually. Over half of suicide cases in the nation were by daily wage workers, independent contractors and housewives.
The Strategy document also cites data from 2020 as per which 63 per cent of the persons who died by suicide made less than one lakh rupees annually. Over half of suicide cases in the nation were by daily wage workers, independent contractors and housewives. In roughly 10 per cent of cases, the reason for suicide is still a mystery.
The NSPS programme is divided into three parts — immediate, intermediate, and long-term strategy. The Strategy weaves together numerous sectors’ collaborations to offer a cohesive strategy and achieve the anticipated reduction in the number of suicides. It avails of evidence-based techniques to reduce the number of suicides.
It also plans to integrate mental health into the curriculum in educational institutions within the next eight years, in addition to its commitments to establishing effective surveillance mechanisms within the next three years and psychiatric outpatient departments through the District Mental Health Programme in all districts over five years. The top priority areas are limiting access to suicide tools, ethical media reporting on suicides, media sensitisation, and improved health systems for suicide prevention.
The NSPS calls for the gradual phase-out of dangerous pesticides. It aims to expand the number of post-graduate seats available in the area of mental health. With the assistance of other organisations and ministries, the Health Ministry is looking at several initiatives, including short-term training for non-specialist doctors, and boosting youth involvement in various activities.
By addressing issues that are relevant to India, the NSPS seems to be on the right track to achieving its objectives. However, the onus is on the Union and state governments to continue on the current course until the objectives are met. Thus, there is a need of a robust mechanism to address this issue.
The government can inspire hope for suicide prevention by enacting a National Suicide Prevention Policy with a psychosocial, public health, and community-based approach that acknowledges the social determinants of access to care and support, and centres the lived experiences of survivors of suicide, suicidal ideation, or families bereaved by suicide.