ECONOMYNEXT – The suicide rate in Sri Lanka is significantly higher compared to years prior to the currency crisis, which has resulted in unemployment and redundancies, psychiatrists have claimed.
“There is no data received for the years 2022 and 2023. For 2023 only four months have gone by this year, but we are receiving statistics that the number has increased and is much higher within the last four months,” Consultant Psychiatrist from the National Hospital of Sri Lanka Dr. Chathurie Suraweera said addressing the press briefing.
Yearly, Sri Lanka reports around 3,000 cases of suicide with about eight to nine cases reported every day, Suraweera said.
Reasons for the apparent increase in the number of suicides is related to the economic plight felt by the people resulting from increased cost of living, unemployment and instability.
“In the last four years, the unemployment rate has gone up globally also and the adjustment from employed to unemployed may lead to a state of depression”, Sajeewana Amarasinghe from the National Institute of Mental Health said, speaking at the same press conference.
Suicide from consumption of pesticides and overdosing on medicines have decreased, while suicide from hanging and other physical means has increased.
“Three thousand cases of suicide are reported every year and close to eight or nine incidents are reported daily. There was a gradual fall in cases, but there is a slight rise due to the current economic crisis,” said Suraweera.
Seventeen cases of suicide per 100,000 individuals were reported, she said.
In 1995, Sri Lanka topped the suicide mortality rate with 47 per 100,000 inhabitants which was the peak during that specific period of time.
Studies show that many suicide deaths can be prevented by bans on specific pesticides. In Sri Lanka, for instance, bans are thought to have led to 93, 000 fewer suicide deaths between 1995 and 2015.
A report published in 2019 by the World Health Organization (WHO) titled “Preventing Suicide”, noted that countries that banned pesticides were able to minimize suicide deaths.
In Sri Lanka, there is a ban on certain agrochemicals.
Accordingly, there are several methods to prevent an individual from committing suicide, like visiting to the nearest mental health professional or calling 1926 the National Mental Health Helpline which is dedicated to provide 24/7, free and confidential support by phone and text message (SMS). (Colombo/ April25/2023)