Severe personal financial crises among reasons for suicidesView(s):
By Nadia Fazlulhaq
Families of victims of pyramid schemes, the unemployed, and those who suffered losses from their businesses or cultivations are being advised to be alert to signs of depression as there is a concerning number of suicides and attempts.
The inability to recognise early signs of depression and the lack of ground-level counselling support are making suicide prevention a difficult task, experts said.
The Peradeniya University’s Economics and Statistics Professor Wasantha Athukorala, said 3,406 people committed suicide last year, of which 2,832 (83%) were men.
Meanwhile, 192 people committed suicide solely due to financial struggles. A majority of suicides were due to family issues, relationship issues, or disputes.
“While analysing, we found that there is a major connection between severe financial difficulties and suicides. Paddy farmers, who were unable to pay the loans and faced crop losses, were among those who took their lives. People who were victims of financial fraud were also unfortunate victims,” he said.
During focus group discussions with close associates of victims, it was revealed that there was an absence of counselling support available at ground level and a lack of awareness,” said Prof. Athukorala.
Close to 10,000 people have taken their own lives during the past three years.
The College of Psychiatrists President, Dr. Sajeewana Amarasinghe, said that a rising number of cases of depression was evident globally and in the country, and therefore, the dearth of qualified counsellors and psychologists should be addressed without delay.
“There are counsellors at district and divisional secretariat levels, but due to neglect or lack of awareness, very few approach them. The stigma attached to mental health and visiting mental health clinics, especially among men, still remains in society,” he said.
Families of those who are on and off anti-depressants, too, need to be monitored, he advised.
“Insomnia, lethargy, demotivation, irritability, and feeling low are signs that are often dismissed as laziness. But they could be warning signs, too. Immediate counselling or treatment is needed,” he said.
Among patients being treated for severe depression are those who are victims of financial fraud, with some losing millions, he said.
Last year, 274 narcotic addicts also took their lives. “Methamphetamine addicts have suicidal tendencies. Sudden, inexplicable suicides among youngsters are a result of meth addiction,” he said.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, there are many who will listen and support you. Dial or send a message to 1926, the national mental health helpline.
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