Kerala's suicide rate dips, first time in 25 years

Experts say the latest figures in a way indicate that the state is heading towards that goal.

Thiruvanananthapuram: The suicide rate in the state has come down to 21.5 percent per lakh population for the first time in the past 25 years, going by the figures presented by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the Assembly. In a written reply to a question from Congress MLA M. Vincent on the number of people who committed suicide after the LDF came to power in the state, the chief minister said 12,988 people had committed suicide in Kerala due to various reasons since May 2016.

According to experts, the average suicide rate considering the figures given by the chief minister comes to 21.5 per cent during the LDF-ruled period. This is the lowest suicide rate in the last 25 years. Expert say the population of the state as per the last census is 3,40,68,227. The number of suicides in the state during 2015 was 7692 and the suicide rate 22.6/lakh while the rate for 2014 was 24.9/ lakh and the total number of suicides 8446.

While the general suicide rate has been decreasing gradually compared to other states, the suicide rate among youngsters and family suicides are on the higher side in Kerala. Of the 12, 988 persons who committed suicide since May 2016, 2946 were women and 401 children.

As many as 822 persons committed suicide due to financial reasons, 4178 due to family problems, 28 because of huge debt and 2325 due to health problems. In September 2016, the state government came out with a comprehensive plan to achieve high health indicators by 2030 as part of the UN programme on Sustainable Development Goals. The plan included bringing the suicide rate down from 24.9 per lakh to 16 / per lakh population.

Experts say the latest figures in a way indicate that the state is heading towards that goal. This is a significant development since depression is the most untreated and under- treated mental health issue in the state. If untreated, nearly 15 per cent people might develop suicidal tendencies at a later stage. A recent survey conducted by Kerala State Mental Health Authority and National Health Mission in five districts revealed that one in every eight persons (12.43 per cent) had mental illness requiring psychiatric intervention. It is in this context that psychiatrists have called for expansion of government's initiative ‘Ashwash Clinics’ for detecting minor and major mental ailments at the level of Primary Health Centres (PHCs) across the state.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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