The Tharparkar district of Sindh is witnessing a spiraling rise in suicide cases, especially among women

(Faras Ghani/Al Jazeera)

The impoverished Tharparkar district of Sindh is facing a disturbing rise in suicide cases, especially among women.

The authorities have linked the emerging health crisis to chronic mental illnesses due to famine and the lack of basic necessities of life.

The Tharparkar district of Sindh.

According to the Sindh Mental Health Authority (SMHA), there were around 767 suicide cases in Sindh between 2016 and 2020.

Out of this, the highest number of suicide cases (79) occurred in Tharparkar.

Moreover, at least 48 people — 31 women — have committed suicide in the district since January this year.

Between the 11th of June and the 16th of June alone, eight people took their lives in the region.

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Baadal Saand, the head of the anti-suicide cell of the Tharparkar police, attributed a bulk of the cases to mental breakdown and depression.

Besides mental illness, other experts identified poverty as the driving force towards suicide in the impoverished region.

Women fetch water from a well in the village of Mathein Bheel, Tehsil Mithi, Tharparkar. (WaterAid/ Sibtain Haider)

Tharparkar’s only psychiatrist, Dr. Bharat Kumar, said poverty might be an essential factor but the real reason was psychiatric illness.

Nevertheless, Kumar acknowledged that issues like lack of family support/social support and economic issues were driving women from the region to commit suicide.

Children from Tharparkar carrying water.

Khatau Jani, a senior journalist from the region, stressed that the spiraling suicide cases in the region can be attributed to those mental illnesses that are caused by extreme poverty.

According to the UNDP’s Multidimensional Poverty Index for Pakistan, more than 87% of the population in the Thar desert lives in poverty.

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