Tragic numbers

Published Sep 18, 2012 12:00am

SRI Lanka has had a long history of suicide, with numbers increasing fourfold since 1950, according to the Census and Statistics Department. In recent years, preventive action by groups has brought down the numbers, but serious challenges [still] exist…. It was reported that 1,778 suicides had … taken place so far this year. Police said among them were 41 boys and 77 girls below the age of 16 and 397 women….

Police cited the break-up of love affairs and marriages, addiction to drugs and alcohol, family disputes, mental disorder and the death of loved ones as some of the common reasons for committing suicide….

[As per] a study done in 1995 in more than 80 countries worldwide by the University of Harvard … Sri Lanka was found to have the highest rate of suicide in the world…. According to local statistics, a majority of these suicides … came from the rural communities of the country. Sumithrayo, which runs the best-known suicide counselling programme in the country, says that 50 to 55 per cent of the suicides island-wide are pesticide related….

As police numbers show, more men than women are prone to committing suicide. The Census and Statistics Department insists the gender gap appears to be widening over the years…. Local media reports have also highlighted the fact that Sri Lanka’s ageing population is vulnerable to suicide because reduced income, loneliness and depression are more common among the aged….

As traditional societies break down and elders are separated from their families, it becomes harder to combat the feeling of uselessness…. Sri Lanka’s rapidly ageing society will face a massive challenge within the next decade as it deals with a shifting paradigm where more elderly people will need counselling and interactive social networks such as senior centres that have evolved in the West….— (Sept 17)


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