Mental health dilemma

Published November 15, 2022

THE findings of a recent study concerning the high prevalence of suicide cases in Gilgit-Baltistan present a worrying picture of this remote and ruggedly beautiful land. Clearly, there is a mental health crisis of considerable proportions in the region that is not being adequately addressed. According to the Prevention of Suicides in Gilgit Baltistan: an integrated multisectoral strategy and roadmap for implementation study, details of which were published in this paper on Monday, the number of reported suicide cases this year so far are twice as high as last year’s numbers. The study uncovers a number of disturbing realities, such as the fact that the vast majority of suicide cases (79pc) are young people or those who are in early middle age, and that cases are almost equally divided between men and women. Ghizer district reported the highest number of cases. According to the report, a number of factors are driving many young people towards taking this extreme step. These include an intergenerational communication gap, academic pressure and lack of job opportunities. A study conducted by the University of Peshawar focusing on Chitral highlighted many of the same factors behind suicide. But perhaps what is most alarming is the fact that the actual numbers for suicide cases and attempts in GB may be much higher, due to the societal stigma attached with reporting this act of self-harm.

This mental health emergency in GB needs to be addressed with seriousness by the state. It has been recommended that police, health and education departments increase coordination, while community-based mental medical health services are also required. Furthermore, life skills and “hope-building curriculum” need to be taught in the region’s educational institutions. Admittedly, the challenge is considerable, as even in Pakistan’s more developed areas mental health is poorly understood and hardly a priority of the state. But vulnerable people in GB, Chitral and all other areas reporting high rates of suicide need to be provided the help they need to prevent them from taking this extreme step.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

A new operation
Updated 25 Jun, 2024

A new operation

Clear deterrent action is needed against terrorist groups, but without upending the lives of people in the affected areas.
Power theft
25 Jun, 2024

Power theft

FEDERAL Energy Minister Awais Leghari’s statement during a TV interview that electricity theft amounts to Rs600bn ...
Fatal air
25 Jun, 2024

Fatal air

TOXIC air can cost us our children. It causes life-threatening illnesses, inflicts lifelong damage and leads to ...
Time for dialogue
Updated 24 Jun, 2024

Time for dialogue

If the PML-N and PTI remain mired in mutual acrimony, an ever-widening gap will continue to allow non-political forces to assert themselves.
Property taxes
24 Jun, 2024

Property taxes

ACCORDING to reports in the local media, along with the higher taxes imposed on real estate in the recent budget, ...
Fierce heat
24 Jun, 2024

Fierce heat

CLIMATE change is unfolding as predicted by experts: savage heat, melting glaciers, extreme rainfall, drought, ...