KARACHI - Over 800,000 people commit suicide annually, representing one person every 40 seconds and global suicide rate is 11.4 per 100,000 population, while in Pakistan according to a research it is two per 100,000.

“We still lack the official statistics on the subject and it’s high time we need to accept and recognise suicide as a major cause of death.”

“In Pakistan, we are still dwelling in that era, when people hide the cause of death in case of suicide and mention it as causality by accident, honour killing, violence, etc.” said Dr Razaur Rehman, professor and chairman, Dept of Psychiatry, DUHS at the seminar on Suicide Prevention; A Global Imperative, conducted by Karwan-e-Hayat for Suicide Prevention Day on Tuesday.

In 25 countries (within WHO member states) including Pakistan, suicide is currently still criminalised. In an additional 20 countries suicide attempters may be punished with jail sentences, according to Sharia law, Dr Raza added. Prof Dr Zafar Haider, Consultant Psychiatrist, Karwan-e-Hayat, Former Professor of Psychiatry JPMC/JSMU, in-charge Post Graduate Studies called depression as the most common psychiatric disorder in people who die by suicide.

50 percent of individuals in high income countries who die by suicide have major depressive disorder at their time of death, he said. For every one suicide 25 people make a suicide attempt, 135 people are affected by each suicide death. This equates to 108 million people bereaved by suicide worldwide every year.

Suicide is the result of a convergence of risk factors including but not limited to genetic, psychological, social and cultural risk factors, sometimes combined with experiences of trauma and loss.

Suicide is the leading cause of death in people aged 15-29. Globally suicide rates among this age group are higher in males than females. Self-harm largely occurs among older adolescents, and globally is the 2nd leading cause of death for older adolescent girls.

In 2012, 76 percent of global suicide occurred in low – and middle-income countries 39 percent of which occurred in the South-East Asia Region, Dr Uroosa Talib, Consultant Psychiatrist, Karwan-e-Hayat, added.

Suicide prevention strategies aim to prevent suicide among targeted high-risk groups but also at a universal level. Effective suicide prevention strategies need to incorporate public health policy strategies and healthcare strategies, incorporating measure with the strongest evidence of efficacy such as: Restriction of access to lethal means, treatment of depression, ensuring chain of care, and school-based universal prevention.

Suicide prevention programmes face ongoing challenges including; insufficient resources, ineffective coordination, limited access to surveillance data on suicide and self-harm, lack of enforced guidelines, lack of independent and systematic evaluation.

This World Suicide Prevention Day and everyday take a minute to reach out to someone – a complete stranger, close family member or friend – this can change a life. The importance of community outreach is very important; our connection could save somebody’s life. The seminar provided forums for discussions and interactive sessions over viewing the causes, prevention and measures to prevent suicide. Karwan-e-Hayat has been at the forefront in redefining and introducing innovative practices through which mental healthcare is provided to the people of Pakistan.

Their successful model of being a network of paperless hospitals, providing indiscriminate quality mental healthcare and above all providing 90 percent free of cost treatment, has set an example for many to follow.