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Suicide causes in Pakistan

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By Nimra Arshad

Suicide is a global concern, and Pakistan is no exception. In recent years, suicide rates have shown alarming increases in the country, calling for immediate attention and collective efforts to address this pressing issue. Pakistan, a country with a population of over 220 million, faces numerous socio-economic challenges, contributing to the rising suicide rates.

Accurate suicide statistics can be elusive due to underreporting and cultural hesitancy to discuss the issue openly. However, available data indicates a worrying trend. Reports suggest that suicide rates have seen a steady rise in urban and rural areas alike, affecting individuals of all ages, including adolescents and the elderly.

Mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia, are often stigmatized in Pakistan. This stigma hampers access to mental health services and discourages individuals from seeking help, leading to untreated conditions that can escalate to suicide. Economic hardships, unemployment, and poverty are significant contributors to stress and hopelessness. Pakistan’s socio-economic challenges, coupled with limited employment opportunities, create a volatile environment that increases vulnerability to suicide. Gender-based discrimination and violence against women in Pakistan contribute to a higher risk of suicide among women. The pressure to conform to societal expectations, limited autonomy, and lack of support in abusive relationships can lead some women to view suicide as their only escape.

The education system in Pakistan often emphasizes academic performance, and failure can cause immense distress among students.

This pressure to excel in studies can drive some young individuals to suicide. Family and societal expectations, particularly in arranged marriages, can be overwhelming for some individuals. Inability to meet these expectations can lead to a sense of failure and despair. Easy access to means of suicide, such as pesticides and firearms, poses a significant risk, especially in rural areas where these tools are readily available.

Culture plays a vital role in shaping perceptions and responses to suicide in Pakistan. Collectivist values emphasize preserving family honor and reputation, which can lead to underreporting of suicides. Families may attempt to hide suicides by labeling them as accidents or natural deaths to avoid the perceived shame associated with suicide.

Religious beliefs also influence attitudes towards suicide in Pakistan. Islam, the dominant religion, views suicide as a sin and a violation of the sacredness of life. However, attitudes can vary, and some communities may hold more compassionate views towards those who died by suicide.

Preventive Measures and Intervention Strategies

Raising awareness about mental health and combatting the associated stigma is crucial. Educational campaigns can help promote understanding and empathy, encouraging individuals to seek professional help when needed.Pakistan must invest in mental health infrastructure, making it more accessible and affordable to the general population. This includes increasing the number of mental health professionals, establishing helplines, and integrating mental health services into primary healthcare facilities. Establishing nationwide suicide helplines can provide an anonymous and accessible platform for individuals in distress to seek help and support.Healthcare providers should be trained in identifying and addressing suicidal tendencies, ensuring timely intervention and referrals to specialized care. Implementing mental health programs in schools can help identify and support at-risk students, promoting emotional well-being and resilience. Media outlets should follow guidelines for responsible reporting of suicide cases to avoid potential copycat incidents and sensationalization. Suicide in Pakistan is a complex issue with multiple interrelated factors. To combat this hidden crisis effectively, it requires a collective effort from government bodies, non-governmental organizations, healthcare professionals, religious leaders, and the society at large. By promoting mental health awareness, providing accessible services, and addressing the socio-economic challenges, Pakistan can take significant steps towards reducing the incidence of suicide and offering hope and support to those in need.

The writer is a student of BS Journalism at Punjab University and she can be reached at: [email protected]

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