Sunday November 28, 2021

SHC orders commission to probe alarming increase in suicides

September 16, 2020

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday expressed concern over increasing number of suicides in rural areas and ordered constitution of a commission to conduct a thorough probe into the alarming trend.

The direction came on an application about lack of mental health facilities in the province. The SHC’s single bench, headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar, observed that mental stress results in depression which sometime compels one to take harmful actions, including suicide due to which there is an abnormal rise particularly in the rural areas.

The court directed the chief secretary to constitute a commission for conducting a research into the increasing trends of suicides, which shall be provided all possible assistance. The court observed that the commission shall visit the areas where the suicide ratio is high and also compare their number with other provinces and submit a report to relevant quarters with recommendations.

The SHC bench also pointed out that private lending of money on interest is one of the elements because as the interest keeps doubling, the borrower gets bogged down under the loan. The lender who does not operate under any lawful legislation adopts illegal means for recovering the interest, which undeniably harms the mental health.

The bench observed that lending money on interest is prohibited in Islam, hence it must be curbed which is not possible without legislation. The court observed that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has already enacted a law against private interest, the Prohibition of Interest on Private Loans Act 2016,. and asked the Sindh government of Sindh to process similar legislation without any delay if not already passed.

The DG Health Services, Hyderabad, submitted a report on improving mental health facilities for the public at large. Expressing dissatisfaction over the report, the court observed that it only shows paperwork which could not only serve the purpose and objectives.

The bench observed that mentally disturbed patients were also the responsibility of the government covering proper treatment facility and measures for preventing anything or cause leading to bringing an individual under mental disturbance.

The court observed that the Sindh Mental Health Act 2013 itself demands establishing authority to prevent mental disorders and develop new standards of care and treatment of patients.The court observed that the record is silent, proving that no research was conducted into the issue and due to which no measures were seen to develop a mental health facility.

The court directed the secretary law to submit a report as whether an authority under the mental health law required to be established or otherwise and if it stood functional, then the authority shall furnish the report as what research has been conducted for knowing and preventing the causes of mental illness and submit the report by October 19.