Turning a blind eye to Pakistan's silent suicide problem will not solve it
Families keep living under false pretense with taboo covering their tracks; what really happens to their loved one is kept behind closed doors.
In December 2018, Dawn.com published an online survey which gathered anonymous views and stories surrounding suicide in Pakistan. A total of 5,157 responses were collected from a segment of the readership (18-40 years old and majorly male), providing a unique insight on suicide. Key takeaways of the survey include:
- 38% of people admitted to knowing someone who ended their life personally
- 43% of people agreed to know someone who attempted to end their life
- 45% of people confessed to thinking about ending their life, but never went through with it
- 9% of people disclosed that they tried to end their life
- 8% of people found suicide immoral, while most considered suicide ‘a way to escape pain’
- ‘Mental illness’ and ‘Financial troubles’ were regarded as the highest trigger, while ‘Divorce’ as the lowest
- ‘Feeling like nothing will help’, ‘Lack of social support’ and ‘Embarrassment or social stigma’ were the most significant barriers to seeking help
- Mental health professionals were seen as ‘Not accessible for most people’
Why Do People Commit Suicide?
- physical and sexual abuse,
- toxic families,
- sexual identity,
- financial pressure,
- societal pressure,
- academic pressure,
- lack of support,
- bullying, poverty,
- drug use and mental distress,
’and more – all act as a suicide trigger.
In Pakistan, the curtain of culture masks most of these, while the rest is kept under wraps by labels such as taboo and social stigma, making people hesitant to seek help.
This image is precisely why the mental health facilities in Pakistan are limited; the ones that exist are unaffordable and full of poorly trained professionals that observe meager ethics and standards.
What Can Be Done to Help?
Everything … affects everything – Jay Asher
The key to preventing suicide is starting a dialogue about the uncomfortable aspects of life and paying attention to social development in the country. The former can help create a safe space for people to let out their stresses and gain love.
Eventually, people will be willing to accept their imperfections and let go of their desire to be perfect. The latter can help improve housing, transportation, health, education law and order, and justice to create a mentally de-stressed population.
There is an urgent need to address all these factors to prevent people from getting on to the suicidal pathway.
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