Currently sixteen people out of every 100,000 across the globe die every year by suicide in an average. Based on that average, World Health Organization (WHO) brought out a 2018 statistic saying 5.9 people out of every 100,000 died in Bangladesh (the rates were worse in India, with 16.3 and Sri Lanka with 14.6). Despite being a densely populated developing country in Southeast Asia, Bangladesh has achieved health-related Millennium Developmental Goals (MDG) but suicide is still under-addressed.
It is estimated, that 300 million people worldwide experience depression and are overcome by suicidal thoughts at some point. Suicide is a global public health problem too often neglected by researchers and Bangladesh is not an exception. There is no suicide surveillance and nationwide study is yet to be conducted in the country.
The rate of suicides is sharply increasing in Bangladesh, according to data from Police Headquarters. In 2017, 11,095 people committed suicide in Bangladesh, which means, on an average, 30 people kill themselves every day.
According to data from Police Headquarters, among the 11,095 people who committed suicide in 2017, 569 of them hanged themselves, 3,467 took poison, and 59 people set themselves on fire.
In 2016, the total number of suicide in Bangladesh was 10,600. In 2017, the number increased to 11,095.
In 2015, 10,500 people committed suicide while in 2014, this number was 10,200. It is notable that in Bangladesh the number of suicides is higher than the number of murders every year.
Incidents of suicide are increasing worldwide. According to World Health Organization (WHO), across the globe, more people die from suicide than in warfare.
Internationally, WHO opined that most occur in low and middle-income countries, which accounted almost four-fifths of global suicides this year. In high-income countries, there is a well-established link between suicide and mental health issues such as depression and alcohol use disorders, but many suicides take place on an impulse, during moments of crisis.
University of Dhaka’s Clinical Psychology Departmental head Dr Md Kamruzzaman Majumdar said: “When people do not get necessary support from their family and community, incidents of suicide increase.”
He said: “The most common reason for suicide is mental pressure and grief. These people tend to believe that their suffering is permanent so they commit suicide to free themselves of their misery. “Feelings of inadequacy contribute to ultimately feeling helpless. These negative feelings constantly keep an individual under pressure. Moreover, because we lead very busy lives, we do not give time to our friends and family.”
He also added that “People tend to feel isolated that way. All of this is increasing the rate of suicide in the country. ”
The doctor noted that family and the state can play an active role in remedying the situation. “I have had clients who have tried to commit suicide in the past. When I asked why they wanted to end their own lives, they often talked about many issues and general lack of support from family. “If we can solve these issues, the rate of suicide will come down. We have to listen to these people, we have to give them time,” he said.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry department in National Institute of Mental Health and Hospital Dr Mekhla Sarkar said that in a recent study conducted by International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), suicide rate is higher among males worldwide, but the rate is higher among women in Bangladesh, expecially among young girls.
The study also shows that lack of education, poverty and unhappy marital life are related to suicide while another study shows complications in relationships, financial crisis, disease and family disputes are also reasons for commiting suicide. There is no specific reason that prompts people to commit suicide, rather it can be said that, the instincts of an individual, mental condition, socio-cultural-economic atmosphere and many other vulnerable situation are responsible for suicide.
Till date, only a few countries have included suicide prevention among their health priorities and only 38 countries report having a national suicide prevention strategy. Bangladesh is not among those 38 countries.
Bangladesh is a populated developing country with high suicide rates. Suicide is still a neglected and under-attended public health problem in the country with few researches. Establishment of national suicide surveillance is now a time demanded step to assess the need scientifically as well as to take necessary steps to address it.