Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Monday, Aug 09, 2004
Kerala bid to cut suicide rate
Thiruvananthapuram , Aug. 8
KERALA has decided to initiate a serious attempt at building correctives to bring down its suicide rate, among the highest reported from States.
The State Government has set up a special committee under the chairmanship of Prof Mohan Isaac of the National Institute for Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (Nimhans), Bangalore, to suggest safeguards to help curb the tendency among its people to end lives for whatever reason.
The scale and extent of the dangerous affliction can be gauged from the fact that the State has come to account for 25 per cent of sales of psychiatric drugs in the country, making it a favourite destination for drug manufacturers.
The decision to set up the committee was taken at a high-level meeting of officials chaired here by the Health Minister, Mr Kadavoor Sivadasan. The meeting concluded that while suicides could be attributed to purely psychological motivations, typical socio-economic conditions had often acted as immediate triggers. This was the line of reasoning that led to the setting up of the committee.
The World Health Organisation, as part of its suicides prevention drive, has issued three directives to its member nations. The first one requires the latter to regard suicidal tendency as a mental condition for arriving at a suitable course of treatment. The second one demands that all suicide prevention programmes should be dovetailed with the prevailing health policies of the individual country. The third directive called for effective coordination at all levels to ensure that all these efforts yield a workable policy format.
While according due consideration to the WHO directives, the meeting also took on record the circumstances obtaining in Kerala that were feared to have driven many to take the extreme step. It attributed the self-destructive tendency to multi-factorial reasons; no single reason was valid for any two similar incidents. The `enabling' cause was found to be a fickle and wavering mental disposition, prone to go wild on accrued indebtedness, divorce, dowry demands, alcoholism, crimes, fall in commodity process, the Gulf syndrome (where spouses are forced to lead separate lives), incompatibilities in family life and illusions about social status.
The committee took note of the lower levels of stress tolerance in the new generation. The lack of parenting skills has further compounded the problem. The academic system also needed a wholesale revamp in order that values come to be embedded at a young and impressionable age. This apart, a collective effort at what the committee described as `correcting the Kerala social psyche' was also warranted.
Among States, Pondicherry brought up the highest suicide rates - at 58 per a lakh of population. The Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar had the second highest rate of 35 per lakh. Kerala, with 30 suicides per lakh people, had the third highest figures. In addition to those who commit suicide are those who fail in their attempts to doing so, estimated to be around 10 times as many.
A suicide occurs every hour in State
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: One person is killing oneself every hour in Kerala as the suicide rate in the State has almost touched 30 deaths per lakh of population against the national average of 11.2 per lakh and the global average of 14.5 per lakh.
With mental illness being the prime reason for high suicide rate, `God's Own Country' is also the largest market for psychotropic drugs.
Incurable physical illnesses, alcoholism, adjustment disorders arising from family tensions, unemployment and large-scale migration of the male population contribute to the alarming rise in suicides, according to the State Mental Health Authority (SMHA).
Taking a serious view of the situation, the Government has recently launched a project called Kerala Integrated Scheme for Intervention of Suicide (KRISIS) for effective implementation of suicide prevention schemes, Mr D. Raju, Secretary, SMHA, told PTI.
The farm districts of Idukki and Wayanad topped in suicides in 2003, recording suicide rates of 52 and 47 per lakh respectively.
In the case of drought-hit Wayanad, from where several cases of farmers' suicides were reported recently, the rate had leaped from 40.6 per lakh in 2002 to 47 per lakh in 2003.
The Muslim-dominated Malappuram marked the lowest suicide rate of 13 per lakh, where the influence of religion and availability of good social support systems are believed to be the reasons for better social health.
Mental illness is cited as the cause of suicide in only five per cent of the total cases in the country, while it is a baffling 14.3 per cent in Kerala, a SMHA note said.
The social health of the consumerist State is grievously harmed by high per capita consumption of alcohol, rapid urbanisation, breaking down of value systems and weak social support mechanism.
Under KRISIS, training programmes are planned for those working in the field of mental health, including medical officers, nurses, counsellors and medical students for early detection of suicide-prone persons.
The project also envisages public and media awareness programmes as part of the suicide-prevention drive. - PTI
More Stories on : Kerala
The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | Sportstar | Frontline | The Hindu eBooks | The Hindu Images | Home |
Copyright © 2004, The
Hindu Business Line. Republication or redissemination of the contents of
this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of
The Hindu Business Line