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October 11, 2019

PIMS receives 5 cases of suicide attempts per day


October 11, 2019

Islamabad :Suicide is a major public health issue in Pakistan though the suicide rate in the country is below the global rate of 6.1 per 100,000. In Pakistan it is 1.4 per 100,000 and apparently this is due to our culture as suicide is prohibited in Islam and is considered as a social stigma and also there are legal issues as suicide is a criminal offence in Pakistan.

It is however pertinent to mention that national rates of suicide are not compiled in Pakistan and the events are also being under reported. Suicide ratio in males is twice as compared to females in Pakistan and mostly by singles. On the basis of reported cases, it can be said that mostly females who are under 30 and have domestic issues do commit suicide. Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences receives five cases of suicide attempts per day on average.

Chairperson Psychiatry Department at PIMS Professor Rizwan Taj expressed this during the inaugural session of a two-day seminar organised by the department in connection with World Mental Health Day observed on Thursday around the globe.

The two-day seminar that was concluded on Thursday at PIMS was attended by a good number of participants including physicians, medical students and nurses. There is a tradition of celebrating this event in psychiatry department at PIMS to create awareness regarding mental health issues. Theme of World Mental Health Day this year is “Mental Health Promotion & Suicide Prevention”.

Talking to participants, Professor Taj said suicide is the 15th leading cause of death globally. Depression is the most common psychiatric disorder in people who die by suicide. Relatives and close friends of people who die by suicide are a high-risk group for suicide, due to the psychological trauma of a suicide loss, potential shared familial and environmental risk, and burden of stigma associated with this loss.

He added that other factors behind suicide in Pakistan are unemployment, poverty, homelessness, family issues, depression and social pressures. The common methods of committing suicide are hanging, ingestion of substances and firearm usage.

He said the PIMS receives five cases of suicide attempts per day on average and most of the cases reaching hospital are with intake of rat pills and drug overdose while mostly young females between 20 and 30 years of age are among reported cases.

About prevention, he said we need multi-sectoral approach, screening at primary care level and community mental health programmes to be run through lady health visitors. There is a strong need to restrict access of public to toxic substances. There should be awareness programs on media on crises management, self-esteem enhancement, and development of social skills, he said.

Speaking at the seminar, the Executive Director at PIMS Dr. Ansar Maqsood said suicide is a serious and sensitive issue and the staff at PIMS should be alert to deal with such cases. Medical staff at PIMS should take appropriate steps to save lives of those reaching hospital after a suicide attempt, he said.

World Mental Health Day activities at PIMS included presentations by various speakers, role plays, talks on prevention of suicide and implementation of management plans.

On the second day of seminar, training session for medical officers and medical students was conducted on strategies to deal with cases reaching hospitals after suicide attempts. Professor Taj shared a recent study conducted on 300 medical students and residents in which 45 per cent were shown to have anxiety and depression and 10 per cent admitted to having suicidal ideation. Of significance was that majority of respondents did not fill the suicide questionnaire due to different reasons including stigma.

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