Suicide In Pakistan And The Role Of Government And Youth

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Muhammad Shahzeb, a third-year medical student from Allama Iqbal Medical College Lahore, Pakistan. The writer is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Although Pakistan lacks any official statistics on yearly suicide rates in the country, data collected from international sources and various other estimates put and put the number anywhere between 15,000 and 20,000 deaths per year. The number of women committing suicide each year is very high compared to men. These numbers, though very less than many other nations, give significant insight into the suicidal tendencies present among people, particularly the youth, and in cases such as this, individuals should be given more attention than the statistical data on the whole.

Various surveys to determine the causes of suicidal tendencies found that mental health issues were among the most common ones. Many young people said that societal pressures, low stature in the community, insecurity about grades in school, and the lack of abilities to make their parents proud led them to depression and anxiety, and the availability of no one to reach out to and give a vent to their feelings exacerbated the condition.

Many of these issues were common among the youth of the upper class. When we take a look at the problems faced by the lower class like poverty, illiteracy, and unemployment, an additive effect is bound to take place, combining the toil caused by these problems and the ones we just described above, and can put the youth in severe mental health problems. Another dilemma, in this case, is that since the authorities are still trying to fulfill the basic needs of the masses, mental health issues are bound to remain sidelined, and collaterally the suicide rates are bound to rise.

The women of this country are still the more susceptible to such issues, as evident from the increased suicide rates among them, due to the increased social constraints on them, many of which are disguised as religious sanctions. Many women don’t even get a say in the choice of their life partners, and when put into the hands of the so-called embodiments of manhood for the rest of their lives, they are bound to suffer, both physically and mentally. Underage minorities are forcefully converted and married to men much older than them, and the mental toil on can’t even be imagined.

Keeping in view these basic problems faced by the masses of Pakistan, many of which the constitutional rights of people are ignored, it is imperative that the solution to many health problems lies in solving these basic issues first. Once these issues are put to an end, the government can turn its attention to making psychiatrists and mental health professionals easily accessible to everyone. In the upper and upper-middle classes, proper strategies must be put into place so that the problem can be identified and dealt with from its start. The criminalization of suicide attempts must be done away with, as many countries of Asia have done since such policies only make the youth less willing to approach authorities after any self-harm attempts.

These policies will take a long time to get implemented. The responsibility of handling suicide-prone and mentally unstable individuals falls into the hands of the youth, especially on the friends and siblings of such individuals. Friends, instead of making a mockery of a trait of an individual in their group, should put their energy into elevating the one suffering from mental health issues. Finally, the calls for help of someone suffering from mental health problems or having suicidal thoughts should not be taken in jest and must not be ignored. Otherwise, the consequences will be very grave, the responsibility of which will only fall into the hands of the ones closest to suffering individuals.

About the author

Muhammad Shahzeb is a third-year medical student from Allama Iqbal Medical College Lahore, Pakistan. He is a member of the IFMSA local cabinet at the college.

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