Eighteen year old, Aminah Bhagat committed suicide in her employer’s house, where she worked as a maid. The police have claimed that after her family refused to let her marry someone of her choice, she hung herself from the fan and died. With poverty, lack of employment opportunities and pressures to conform to social norms, depression and suicide have started becoming a norm.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has recently stated that out of 174 suicides this year, 44% took place due to some sort of family-related crisis while 28 people took their own lives in the face of financial troubles. Research and public debate regarding suicide has been limited in Pakistan due to social stigmas, religious beliefs and possible legal consequences. However, limited research indicates the leading causes of suicide in Pakistan to be mental illnesses, unemployment, poverty, homelessness and family disputes. Growing economic pressure has made sure that the common man lives a substandard life and has no way out other than ending his life or abandoning his families. Family pressures and expectations are a further problem, especially for the youth. We have no way to gauge the number of children and young girls subjected to domestic abuse, nor do we have any policies that can protect them.

The Edhi Foundation, the largest private provider of social services in Pakistan, says that last year it rescued 110 abandoned babies. While Pakistani leaders are consumed by power struggles or tussles with the Supreme Court and military, social ills go unaddressed. Our official unemployment stands at 12 per cent of the eligible workforce and health spending is only 0.7 per cent of the national annual budget. It is high time that programs that actually impact the day-to-day life of the people are given a priority.