KARACHI - Suicides are steadily rising in Pakistan, with an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 suicides per year, according to a study at Aga Khan University (AKU). Almost 34 per cent of the population, mostly under 30 years of age, suffer from common mental disorders and more than 90 per cent of suicides can be linked to depression. These views were expressed by Dr Murad Moosa Khan, Chair and Professor, Department of Psychiatry, AKU, on the occasion of World Suicide Prevention Day, held on September 10 every year, organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). He says WHO has estimated globally that there is one suicide death every two minutes. Talking about Pakistan, he said, In Muslim countries, where suicide rates are generally seem to be lower, Pakistan stands as an anomaly. Growing socio-economic crisis, civil unrest and other social burdens have worsened the situation. Governments inability to resolve these issues increases frustration, which converts to depression, he adds. One of the factors in suicide is hopelessness. The more depressed you are the more hopeless you become. The unsuccessful suicide attempts also have a psychological, social and economic cost. WHO estimates that the cost of attempted suicides, in terms of loss of productivity and health and social care, is billions of dollars per year. These attempts require medical treatment, and in many cases, render the main breadwinners incapable of earning a living, further burdening family income. Suicide results from several factors, including mental illness, poverty, substance abuse, social isolation, losses, relationship difficulties and workplace problems. To be effective, suicide prevention needs an approach that acknowledges the multiple causes of suicidal behaviour, said Dr Khan. There is need for an immediate mental health intervention in Pakistan, he said, adding, We need to reduce access to commonly used methods of suicide, which in Pakistan include pesticides or poisons. He said, We also need to train government lady health workers to identify and report potential suicide cases as a pre-emptive measure. We need to spread education and awareness in communities and give support to people who have attempted suicides or have been affected by family members who have died from suicide. The media can also play an extensive and very important role in helping us spread this awareness. To understand the scope of the problem in Pakistan and to discuss the socio-economic, legal and other aspects of suicide, the Suicide Prevention and Research Interest Group (SPRInG) at the University is organising a seminar and workshop on Suicide: Hidden Realities in Pakistan, to be held at the AKU Auditorium on Wednesday September 30.