KARACHI    -   Senior psychiatrists of the country here on Saturday called for urgent legislation coupled with state’s support for prevention of suicide and instances of attempted suicide in the country.

Addressing a session organized by the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre (JPMC) to mark World Suicide Prevention Day 2019, they sought due realization that suicide has emerged to be a major public health issue in the country.

World Suicide Prevention Day, observed on every 10th of September each year is being observed with the theme “Working Together to Prevent Suicide,” for the year 2019. The speakers including Prof. Emeritus Syed Haroon Ahmed, Prof. Murad Moosa Khan, President, International Association for Suicide Prevention also the Head of Psychiatry Department, Aga Khan University and Prof. M. Iqbal Afridi, Chairman of the Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences Department, JPMC took strong exception to the growing suicidal trends among the youth. Mentioning that public awareness could help prevention of suicide, speakers urged people in general not to ignore hints dropped by anyone about his or her intention to take one’s life. Prof Haroon Ahmed mentioning that “depression” is often registered to be the major underlying factor leading towards suicide, re-emphasized need to address the issue of depression itself in the society, with equal attention towards its efficient management.

Among the senior most psychiatrists of the country, he also referred to stigma attached to mental disorders in the country often pushing the sufferers to extreme conditions. It may be pertinent to mention that suicide is generally cited to be result of a convergence of genetic, psychological, social, cultural and other risk factors that at time do get combined with experiences of trauma, loss and drug addiction.

Prof Murad Moosa referred to absence of data that may help develop a proper preventive strategy, he in this context also sought close coordination between public and private sector institutions as well as inter-sector collaboration to not only raise understanding about the issue but help generate reliable data - prerequisite for an adequately implementable preventive strategy.

It was regretted on the occasion that subject of “psychiatry” itself was extended little attention at under- graduate level (MBBS) programs offered at local medical colleges and consequently comes low in the choice of young doctors deciding for their field of specialization at post graduate level.

The IASP President, Dr. Murad Moosa in his elaborate presentation mentioned that religion was identified as a significant factor causing comparatively low prevalence, in context of suicidal tendencies, in many of the Islamic countries including Pakistan. He, however, at the same time referred to small scale studies conducted in the country revealing increase in the incidence of suicide/attempt to suicide among young population. An alarming development, he said was growing tendency among young married women found to be particularly thinking for the option as could not bear the stress in their peculiar environment.

Dr. Murad supplemented Dr. Iqbal Afridi that there was urgent need to restrict easy availability or accessibility to the means of suicide including chemical used for washing or cleaning purposes, tranquilizers, guns and so-forth.

The seasoned professionals regretting the dearth of qualified psychiatrists in the country also sought measures for capacity building of many of those offering psychiatric services to the people in different parts of the country. Religion, children, family, self esteem, resilience connected to job were identified as some of the threshold of protection for the people exposed to extreme desperation that may even lead to suicide.