Suicide is a consequence of severe and profound mental distress, where in the, mental distress is a product of socio-economic barriers that affects an individual’s mental and psychosocial wellbeing.
We usually hear that people committing suicide are weak and coward. It is widely believed that they usually lack confidence in life and cannot confront the situation so they try to take their own life. Actually, when an individual gets suicidal ideation that person tries to seek support and understanding from many sources. But if no support is available, the person gets into the darkness of isolation which is lethal and bred suicidal tendencies.
Here, I am sharing my life experience and analysis of the incident that happened to me i.e. my attempt to commit suicide. My mental health issues started at the age of 15 years and I dragged myself somehow till the age of 19 years not knowing what had happened to me.
However, by the time I was 19 years of age, I could not handle myself and was home ridden for 8 years. Sitting idle at home I lost my productivity. My symptoms were finally diagnosed at the age of 25 years and I started to recover slowly. But while I was in the recovery phase, high expectations of my family and community crushed me completely, and feeling guilty that instead of me taking care of my old parents, they were feeding me despite being in utter poverty, I attempted suicide.
Thank goodness I survived and eventually I could revive enough to take care of my old and poor parents and my other responsibilities. I had a situation, where, I didn’t see any support system; my life was fully covered by darkness. I attempted suicide but fortunately, I was able to get help on time and I survived that crisis. But for a number of years thereafter, I got entangled in social stigma and I also had to brave socio-economic prejudices. Since I had the support system I did not give up. It was roughly 23 years ago. At present, I can cope with all the barriers. I believe nothing can stop my functioning. Now, I lead hope for others in similar situation like me.
In 2008, I established KOSHISH, a NGO for promoting and protecting rights and dignity of people with mental health issues through advocacy with the government authorities and other stake holders as also the direct treatment. At KOSHISH, we try to make our beneficiaries a self advocate for their cause so that can have true inclusion in the society.
I have been internationally recognized as a self advocate and have been awarded honours through many Awards and Accolades, such as the Dr. Guislain award for “Breaking the Chains of Stigma” in 2013, Ashoka Fellowship in 2017 ,the Social Service Award in 2013,Human rights Award by the national human rights Commission in December 2015. KOSHISH awarded as the Best social organization in 2017.
Evidence from the maternal mortality and morbidity study (2008-09) showed suicide to be the leading cause of death among women in Nepal aged 15-49. Similarly, a report from the pilot study conducted by the National Health Research Council has shown that there is high suicidal tendency among both adolescents and adults. According to the study, suicidal tendencies among adolescents was 8.7% and 10.9% for adults. However, we are still in the same situation with no better support for the vulnerable.
In the last fiscal year, 6279 people died due to suicides. On an average 17 persons are dying due to suicide per day. In my experience, we have to try to engage with the Government systems to control and eradicate suicidal ideations among the people. The planning commission of Nepal target is to reduce the suicide by 4.2 % in 2030 from 16.5 % in 2015.,According to the SDG (the sustainable Development Goals) target is to reduce suicides by 14.5%. However, instead of decreasing suicide rate, in 2019 suicide has been increased by 19.5%.Looking back from 2015 to 2020 suicide has been increased by 34%. These all are only the police reported cases. There must be many unreported cases.
For the suicide prevention there need to be safe place where people can talk and ventilate their feelings. For ventilating the feelings there need to be safe environment where there is legally binding confidentiality to ensure that what people express during distress shall be highly confidential. Even though there are training of psychologist and the Counselors but not having enough practice, training and licensing there is no guarantee that these professionals will maintain confidentiality. If they violate the confidentiality there is no legal remedy. The Government should promote listening therapies and the confidentiality should be maintained legally. In addition, the different Ministries should have multi-sectoral approach whereas Ministry of Health and Population can have more awareness raising, prevention of mental health problems and promotion of mental well being and counseling.
The education ministry should promote child-friendly education and the ministry of women should promote issues of the vulnerability of citizens, i.e. child, women, and senior citizens.
Devkota is the Executive Director of Koshish Nepal.
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