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Union Health Ministry rolls out country’s first suicide prevention policy

  • Published
    22nd Nov, 2022

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has announced a National Suicide Prevention Strategy, the first of its kind in the country to achieve a reduction in suicide mortality by 10% by 2030.


The National Suicide Prevention Strategy:

  • The strategy is in line with the WHO’s South East-Asia Region Strategy for suicide prevention.
  • Aim: The strategy broadly seeks to establish:
  • Effective surveillance mechanisms for suicide within the next three years.
  • To establish psychiatric outpatient departments that will provide suicide prevention services through the District Mental Health Programme in all districts within the next five years, and
  • To integrate a mental well-being curriculum in all educational institutions within the next eight years.
  • It envisages developing guidelines for responsible media reporting of suicides, and restricting access to means of suicide with time-bound action plans and multi-sectoral collaborations.
  • The stress is on developing community resilience and societal support for suicide prevention.

The South East-Asia Region Strategy:

It aims to:

  •  Strengthen advocacy, effective leadership, and governance for the prevention of suicides.
  • To provide comprehensive, integrated, and responsive mental health and social care services in community-based settings to address suicides.
  • To implement strategies for the promotion of mental, social, and physical health and well-being aimed at preventing suicides
  • To strengthen information systems, evidence, and research on suicide

Suicide rates in India:

  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report 2021, the Suicide rate in India is increasing alarmingly.
  • Delhi has recorded the highest number of (2,840) suicides.
  • Reasons for Suicide:
    • 33.2%: Family Problems (other than marriage-related problems)
    • 4.8%: Marriage Related Problems
    • 18.6%: Illness
  • Daily wage earners accounted for 42,004 (25.6 percent) of the total victims. One in four of the recorded 1, 64,033 suicide victims during 2021 was a daily wage earner.
  • They were followed by self-employed people, unemployed people, and those involved in the farming sector were the top categories of people who died by suicide in 2021.
  • The report certainly points out suicides as a critical public health issue in India and qualifies for a closer epidemiological assessment.

Do you know?

  • Maharashtra topped the country in terms of the number of suicides reported in 2021 followed by Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Madhya Pradesh is going to be the first State in the country to draft a suicide prevention strategy and the government has formed a task force for it.

How is Suicide a Social Problem?

  • The problem with only viewing suicide as an individual problem is that we neglect the importance of social forces contributing to suicide.
  • Suicide is a serious social problem whose incidence varies between genders, age groups, geographical distribution, and the influence of the socio-political structure of society.
  • The risk of suicide in a population increases when the social context fails to provide a healthy sense of purpose and belonging, contributing to an individual’s sense of contribution and connection.
  • Furthermore, suicide should be viewed as a multidimensional public and mental health issue, having complex interactions with the economic, social, cultural, psychological, and biological realms of individual and collective existence.

What are the challenges?

  • Under-reporting of such cases due to fear of social stigma and sometimes to rescue from judicial procedures.
  • Fear of legal action:  Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) makes suicide a punishable offense. The fear of punitive action and added hassle of having to deal with police and courts often results in a refusal to seek help.
  • Social stigma: The social stigma associated with suicide results in the NCRB grossly under-reporting the true numbers of suicide. 

Related Initiatives:

  • Mental Healthcare Act, 2017:It aims to provide mental healthcare services for persons with mental illness.
  • KIRAN: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has launched a 24/7 toll-free helpline to provide support to people facing anxiety, stress, depression, suicidal thoughts, and other mental health concerns.
  • Manodarpan Initiative: It is an initiative of the Ministry of Education under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. It is aimed to provide psychosocial support to students, family members, and teachers for their mental health and well-being during the times of Covid-19.
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