Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Union Health Ministry rolls out India’s 1st Suicide Prevention Policy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : National Suicide Prevention Strategy

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced a National Suicide Prevention Strategy, the first of its kind in the country.

What is Suicide?

  • Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one’s own death.
  • Mental and physical disorders, substance abuse, anxiety and depression are risk factors.
  • Some suicides are impulsive acts due to stress (such as from financial or academic difficulties), relationship problems (such as breakups or divorces), or harassment and bullying.
  • Despite being entirely preventable, India has been increasingly losing individuals to suicide.

Why need such strategy?

Ans. Suicides in India

  • The burden of deaths by suicide has increased in India — by 7.2 per cent from 2020 — with a total of 1,64,033 people dying by suicide in 2021.
  • In India, more than one lakh lives are lost every year to suicide, and it is the top killer in the 15-29 years category.
  • In the past three years, the suicide rate has increased from 10.2 to 11.3 per 1,00,000 population, the document records.
  • The most common reasons for suicide include family problems and illnesses, which account for 34% and 18% of all suicide-related deaths.
  • The report follows a 2021 Lancet study that noted “India reports the highest number of suicide deaths in the world”.

About the National Suicide Prevention Strategy

The NSPS puts a time-bound action plan and multi-sectoral collaborations to achieve reduction in suicide mortality by 10% by 2030.  The strategy broadly seeks to establish-

  1. Effective surveillance mechanisms for suicide within the next three years,
  2. 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
  3. Integrate a mental well-being curriculum in all educational institutions within the next eight years.

The strategy also envisages:

  1. Developing guidelines for responsible media reporting of suicides and
  2. Restricting access to means of suicide

Significance of the strategy

  • The most important thing is that the government has acknowledged that suicide is a problem.
  • We now have a well-conceived plan involving multi-sectoral collaborations, because the only way a strategy would work would be to involve various sectors.
  • The strategy should now be passed on to the States for them to develop locally relevant action plans; and then cascade to the district, primary health and community levels.

Why suicide is such a big issue?

  • More youth committing: For the youth of the country (15-29 years), among whom 1/3rd of all suicides take place.
  • Performance pressure: Data suggests that one student dies by suicide every 55 minutes, and 1,129 suicides among children below 18 years of age in 2020 were due to failure in examinations.
  • Farm distress: This is followed by farmer’s suicide and the gendered variance observed these days.
  • Gendered variances: More women are committing suicides these days.

Way forward

suicide

  • Holistic approach: Promoting national and sectoral research into the reasons for suicide mortality and its rise, and making culturally and economically appropriate suggestions to help mitigate the problem is critical.
  • Counselling by mass-media: During times of distress, media must promote health-seeking behaviour, correct information and counter the possible myths related to suicide.
  • Evidence-based interventions: Keep in mind the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized populations, like women and young individuals, providing the required support systems can reduce the number of lives lost and build a healthier response system.

 

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