SL no longer suicide capital of world

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

 The Health Ministry yesterday said there had been a marked decrease in the number of suicides in the country since 1995, when the number had topped 9,000. A little less than two decades later the number had dropped to 3,000. 

Commemorating World ‘Suicide Prevention Day’ today, a Health Ministry spokesman quoting WHO statistics said that almost 800,000 suicides occurred in the world annually. It was the second leading cause of death. A majority of those who committed suicide were between the ages of 15 and 30 years. According to the WHO, Sri Lanka should take action to ensure that its suicide rate decreases 10 per cent by 2020.

 This year’s theme for World suicide prevention day has been identified as ‘Reaching out and saving lives.’

 The Ministry spokesperson said that suicide was one of the biggest public health issues in the country. He said that the number of deaths occurring due to suicide attempts had reduced. However it did not mean that there had been a satisfactory decrease in the number of attempts.

 Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr N.  Fernando during a workshop for the media on reporting suicides, said that there was a National Suicide Prevention Policy which had been drawn up during former President, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’s tenure at a time when the numbers were notably high.

Meanwhile, a communique issued by  Sri Lanka Sumitrayo said that  the though  the incidence of suicide in Sri Lanka had notably reduced since 1995 when the country had the highest suicide rate in the world––47 per 100,000 people. It had decreased by over 50 per cent. It stands at less than 20 per 100,000. "Still we cannot be complacent for attempts are disturbingly increasing," it said.

The country had been able to bring down the number of deaths by improved hospital management and improved means of communication and transportation of those who had attempted suicide to hospital, it added. 

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