A devastating Covid-19 pandemic in India has led to a spike in mental distress and suicides with little in the way of social safety nets. Fear and anxiety has affected vast swathes of the population, cutting across age groups and class divisions. Health care professionals warn this will have long-lasting repercussions on society.
A study examining suicidal behaviour during India’s COVID-19 lockdown by the International Journal of Mental Health Systems has found a 67.7% increase in online news media reports of suicidal behaviour.
The study titled Analysis of news media reports of suicides and attempted suicides during the COVID-19 lockdown in India said that there were 369 cases of suicides and attempted suicides during the COVID-19 lockdown compared to 220 reported suicides in the corresponding dates in 2019.
“World Suicide Prevention Day is observed on the 10th of September every year to raise awareness about mental health and one of its extreme consequence i.e. suicide. This has become a global concern, with humanity losing one person every 40 seconds, the theme this year is ‘Creating Hope Through Action’. The pandemic has seen a severe jump in mental illnesses with an estimated increased by 40% as per recent research by the Indian Psychiatric Society. Youngsters seem to be more affected especially with the disruption in the educational system. As per NCRB, 41% of those who committed suicide where from the age group of 14 to 30 years. West Bengal ranks third in the number of suicides. Suicide remains a preventable cause of death and the need of the hour is empowerment and resilience building of individuals through multi-disciplinary approach with early identification and treatment.” – Dr Sanjay Garg, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, Fortis Hospital Anandapur.