–One person committing suicide every 40 seconds worldwide
–Suicide is the second largest cause of death between the age of 15-35
LAHORE: Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning (PILL) CEO Professor Nasim Chaudhry on Tuesday stressed on the need for bringing mental health issues to the mainstream due to rising suicide and depression cases in the country.
She was speaking at an international seminar on self-harm and suicide prevention organised by PILL at a local hotel here. Both international and local speakers including psychiatrists and psychologists emphasised on the prevention of self-harm and suicide during the conference which was on the theme of suicide prevention to mark World Mental Health Day.
The conference was also attended by Head of Psychology Department of Punjab University Dr Saima Dawood, Head of Psychiatry Department Services Hospital Dr Sameera Qambar, Head of Psychology Department BZU Multan Dr Sarwat Sultan, Dr Noor ul Zaman from Phoenix Foundation, Dr Altaf Qadir of Lahore General Hospital, Dr Suleman Shehzad of Shaukat Khanum Hospital and a large number of students and teachers.
Speaking on the occasion, Professor Chaudhry said that mental health is equally important as physical health and announced the establishment of a self-harm and suicide prevention centre in the country by January 2020 to encourage efforts to raise awareness in this regard.
King Edward Medical University (KEMU) Vice-Chancellor (VC) Professor Dr Khalid Masood Gondal said that the mental health is especially important in children and therefore the psychiatry department of KEMU is working rigorously on the subject. “Developed countries are very advanced in research related to psychological health and we hope to follow them in this regard,” he said.
Ziauddin Hospital Department of Psychiatry Chairman Professor Imran Chaudhry said that they are engaging the community and holding meetings with policymakers of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to remove the stigma associated with the suicide. “We are creating multiple linguistic pieces of literature on the subject and introducing culturally adapted therapies while presenting the research of Pakistanis at international levels,” he said while adding that capacity building workshops for young psychologists and psychiatrists in foreign countries were also being arranged by the administration of his department.
Usman Arshad, a research psychologist, said that suicide needs to be taken seriously because a large number of people are dying rapidly due to the ignorance of society and their peers. “According to WHO, a person commits suicide every 40 seconds worldwide. Suicide is the second largest cause of death between the age of 15-35 and is the 10th largest cause of death in the world as one million people die annually due to suicide,” he said.
He was of the view that actual facts and figures of suicide incidents in Pakistan are not available because people don’t report them due to stigma and police activities associated with it. “There is a need to decriminalise the act of suicide as it may be helpful to know the actual figures and circumstances of suicides which may then help in saving many others,” he added.
Global Mental Health Director Research Professor Nusrat Husain said that many countries like Kenya, Bangladesh and South Africa are looking towards Pakistan due to the work on mental health being done here and culturally adapted therapies of Pakistan can also be fruitful for developed countries. “It is high time that Pakistan contributes more to the field of mental health,” he said.
Professor Karina Lovell from the University of Manchester, Uzma Omer and other experts also spoke on suicide prevention and research being done on the subject. Short documentaries were shown and a poster competition with catchy slogans was also held on the occasion.