KARACHI: Experts at a seminar on suicide prevention on Sunday said most suicides could have been prevented by simply listening to the individuals passing through such a state of dejection and low belongingness.

Dr Syed Haroon Ahmed, Pakistan Association for Mental Health president, said the PAMH was trying to increase awareness through assorted activities, talks, seminars, trainings and discussions to raise voice on the subject and bring awareness among people, but it required a collective effort.

“We need to alleviate the su­ff­erings and stop the silently dying people.”

Senator Karim Khwaja said miscommunication among partners and infidelity issues were found to be some reasons in Thar when he and a PAMH team visited the area that had been on radar for prominent suicide rate over the past few years.

He said in Thar the health facilities were very slim, but the existing 200 paramedic team members and 100 doctors would be trained by PAMH on emergent basis.

Dr Khwaja unveiled a plan of starting a new helpline for addressing mental health crisis and the JPMC and Cowasjee Institute of Psychiatry would be its partner.

He said it was unfortunate there were just 140 psychiatrists in the province.

“Majority of persons who commit or attempt to suicide actually don’t want to die,” said Dr Uzma Ambareen, vice president of Pakistan Association for Mental Health, which organised the event at the Arts Council of Pakistan marking World Mental Health Day.

She said a serious hearing to the persons manifesting suicidal tendencies could bring them back to life.

“Suicide is rarely impulsive act,” she said, “it culminates and is an end product of many taxing events passed before”.

She said such patients espoused tunnel vision where they could see suicide as the only option to get rid of all problems one was not able to get rid of.

“We have to remind these people through conversation that why they should not attempt such an extreme measure.”

According to the WHO, more than 800,000 people die by suicide every year, and suicide is the principal cause of death among people aged 15 to 29 years.

The increasing number of suicides in children and adolescents is alarming and usually occurs as a result of violence, sexual abuse, bullying and cyber-bullying.

“The Sindh Mental Health Act, 2013, now allows for anyone attempting suicide to have a psychiatric assessment first,” the audience was told.

Experts said suicide was a preventable cause of death and most suicide survivors later said they were glad they didn’t die.

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2019