Day 504

The Registrar General of India shows suicide and road accidents are the leading causes of death among young women and men respectively. A recent article in a leading Indian news paper The Hindu emphasises that loss of hope is the main reason for suicides in the young. They find themselves victims, trapped in a system that has failed them.

Saira Sirohi, a national level swimmer ended her life at the age of 16. She had been disturbed at being unable to attend school for several days recently as her father could not pay her transport fees of Rs.45,000(450 pounds).

Severe self-harm is a relatively rare outcome of a unique confluence of factors in a particular individual, both social and related to psychological well-being, and we must target both of these if we are to prevent suicides. Unfortunately in India, as in many other ‘advanced’ countries, there is no coordinated effort to address suicide as a public health issue.

Nearly 450 million people are affected by mental illness worldwide. In wealthy nations, just half receive appropriate care, but in developing countries, close to 90 percent go untreated because of great social stigma and short supply of psychiatrists. Professor Vikram Patel is a psychiatrist with a primary interest in global mental health. He underwent training in the UK and runs a mental health charity called Sangath in India. He outlines a highly promising approach — training members of communities to give mental health interventions, empowering ordinary people to care for others.


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