Published: 19th August 2021
Spike in suicides amid pandemic in Nepal; social isolation deteriorating mental health
Worsening psycho-socio factors due to the pandemic led to more people dying by suicide, according to experts
A total of 7,141 suicides were recorded in Nepal in the 2020-21 fiscal year that ended in mid-July, up 14.2 per cent year-on-year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest data released by the police.
Of the deaths, 3,928 were men, 2,449 were women and the rest were children, the data revealed. Saroj Prasad Ojha, head of the Psychiatry Department at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu, blamed mental health problems amid the pandemic for more suicides in the country.
"Almost 90 per cent of suicides are associated with mental health issues like anxiety and depression, which have increased this year," he told Xinhua on Wednesday. "Social isolation has triggered mental health problems among people," he said, adding, "People who were asked to stay indoors during COVID-19 are facing mental health problems related to psycho-socio factors, which are the biggest cause of suicides."
Psycho-socio factors like unemployment, prolonged academic schedules, family disputes, financial problems, alcohol abuse and substance abuse have contributed to most suicides, according to Ojha.
Jagannath Lamichhane, who has been working on mental health advocacy for the past 12 years, said, "Instead of viewing suicide as a public health issue, our society sees suicide from a criminal perspective which makes it difficult for people to talk about suicide and mental health. Due to this hesitation, most of the suicide attempts went unreported."
"More than 50 per cent of mental health problems start before adolescence which makes the youth vulnerable," he told Xinhua. "So we have to advocate mental health from the grass-root level by introducing the subject of suicide prevention and mental wellbeing in school education."