Home / Editorial / Dealing with our sad societal sickness
A malaise so heartbreaking and deeply disquieting has entered our society. Look around and you will agree that there is something so utterly rotten in this our proverbial land of Gross National Happiness.

Dealing with our sad societal sickness

A malaise so heartbreaking and deeply disquieting has entered our society. Look around and you will agree that there is something so utterly rotten in this our proverbial land of Gross National Happiness.

Suicide rate in the country is increasing by the day even as we continue to bask in the sun of international renown that we have managed to earn over the years. We still believe that we are one of the most welfare-driven societies in the world where citizens enjoy higher level of contentment than all others.

But it takes courage to look deep into our own soul and find our face staring back, twisted with shame, guilt and unease. But that we did exactly, as boldly as we felt compelled to. And we found that we need to fill in so many gaps that we created as we hastily marched along the path of development – sometimes called progress.

More than 60 percent of those who attempt or commit suicide are young people between the ages of 15 and 40 years. Men constitute more than women. This speaks clearly of the pressure certain groups of people are hurled in to handle, failing which, there is little option left for them than to evict themselves out of their skins.

Employment is becoming scarce. In the meantime, rural to urban migration is increasing. Why? Are we not consulting demographic shift when we plan our development? Our streets are increasingly being filled with elderly orphans. Yet we continue to debate whether as a GNH country we should have old-age homes.

A study on reported suicide cases in Bhutan says that almost half, 49 percent, of those who attempted suicide earned less than Nu 3,000 a month. The report also says that a majority of those who committed suicide were farmers and students. Civil service is already saturated and private sector is in no position to create jobs. Where must our young people look for hope?

More significantly, what is happening to our national objective of achieving rural prosperity and urban well-being? We must bring our citizens on the fringes back to the fold.

The magnitude of the problem will only grow if we do not act sooner to address some of our gaping social problems. As things stand, is it not a bitter irony, a darn hard smack on the face of our own hallowed national development philosophy of Gross National Happiness?

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3 comments

  1. The nation must prepare and implement well organised plans to engage every individual of various capacities in productive enterprises and activities. This promotes and builds manpower capacity engaging professionals of various disciplines dedicating their ability and strength to uplift national economy through genuine efforts. The output of such activities results in automatic growth on GDP to provide for physical needs and become HAPPY. Simple bread is SWEET to the hungry and simple rest pleasant to the tired!

    Government alone can execute the plan of engaging industrious enthusiasts having all (legislative, executive and judiciary) POWER/AUTHORITY and NATIONAL RESOURCES in sole control. Causes for murmuring, disputing, complaining and inflicting harm on self etc. will then be put to rest for good, to the best of my reasoning. Our lives in the physical realm are really PHYSICAL and need physical solutions to physical problems. Talking GNH does not become relevant in such case.

    The present GNH is philosophical guide to temper attitudes and concepts in order to change the priorities and find happiness dealing with prevailing circumstances even if they are degrading. But the fact is that while some may be engaged in the very presence with vulgar pleasures, it becomes mirage to the less fortunate that must console his conscience under such circumstance! GNH now is about practicing to become BHUTANESE by pre-defined criteria of doing certain things to prove the claims.

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  2. When pricing in any industry is heavily dominated by parameters influenced and controlled within the regional and international markets; it’s more or less the costs where internal controls are more executable. In one way it leads to organisations investing on internal research and development; while it can even be corruptions to negotiate in other directions. Only yesterday while discussing the mining sector complexities; someone very rightly commented that repeated studies find nothing new but only new sets of printed reports. Good part is that they are only reports…not any doctoral theses on innovation.

    Now let me assure that I have not bypassed the original topic of increasing suicide rates. No societies want its members to commit suicides and that’s true everywhere. But somewhere; the productive quality of education in first 10 years of schooling matters the most in shaping our life long learning philosophies. Our school education, on many occasions, is still stuck with a typical ‘question-answer’ dominated methods. Students sitting at exams know their prepared answers well before getting the question papers. It’s usually about remembering everything and/or doing it without the mistakes in the limited hours. And then we even have students committing suicides for the fear or consequence of failing. We usually leave productive education too late to be a reality during the Masters or the PHD level. Students with merit anyway look for reputed educational organisations all around to underline their academic qualifications.

    But if every innovation or development philosophy is inspired, adopted or directly imported; how do we expect domestic industries to compete within the region against different parameters; from quality to mere scaled up quantity? But we always know whom to blame for the employment scenario. When private sector is not hiring with a slowing down economy; we expect the government to do some magic. If magic has to happen; it has to happen with our school education…optimised for quality and high on productivity addressing all the industries, present or future. Human resource developments must happen at the initial stage when it matters the most. If it’s suicide rates we are fighting now even in the peaceful and happiness country of Bhutan; the ancient world was never without wars and loots where everyone was capable of killing anyone. Still we as a human society has reached this level of developments as we always have believed in PROGRESSIVE and PRODUCTIVE education.

    • According me the Bhutanese society is sick with the confrontation and the clash between 60% ofpeasants whom the only interest is often the price of their products they would draw in the market . And on the other hand an elite very cultivated and business men very skilled. I love so much your country that , myself , i am too sad for your country wit suicide problem ; but this is not the question concerned in the above article ; I hope a so called article in the future and , if this happen , I will wait the comment of IRFAN

      This article insist about the number of suicides between age of 15 to 40 . 15 to 26 are the youths , over up to 40 is the age of the task force .

      I help to analyse the problem to give words to the debate .

      The main question is why this feeling (suicide ) has happened . Why this despair in those student category . The problem is the same in high schools of Japan , of Taiïwan , , of China where the shame to fail in exam give many suicide.

      The result is the implacable law of success . But why a so despair ? When even sometimes in case of success . the high value of the exam do not give automatically employment and can give jobseekers during a longtime if there is no possibility to go abroad . The problem is well known : lack of creation of entrepreneurship in the country .

      (All those informations come from my daily reading of kuensel )

      Does the school managing organizations indicate the best exam to be surely employed ? We have the same problem in some occidental countries like France , Spain , Italy .

      Said in economic terms : the issue is the balance between the supply of job market and the demand and needs of industry generally speaking . The Policy makers know that .

      That need to introduce uptsream when building curriculum and syllabus in school the progressive and productive education as say IRFAN . And for Bhutan , it is necessary to have the eyes and the knowledge of every news about industry over the world .

      So reading ( refer to the campaign of reading ) and consulting news in big Library as in Thimphu is very essential . As with TV with internatinal tv-programmes giving technical news ( like BBC and CNN )
      As for me , i Wonder why the Buddhist philosophy is totaly unquoted in the article . When failure in an exam , why the Buddist philosophy do not give an help to avoid suicide ?
      I do not mention the performance of dancers “made for tourist” , but an internal meditation which has been renewed by some famous Masters in indian Ashrams , or by His Holiness the Dalaï Lama well known all over the world. There are many Buddhist temples in France where we can study Buddhism and practice meditation.

      As for Bhutan , there are numerous Yoga clubs ; there are some Yoga clubs in Thimphu ; I think there are too clubs in big town of the country . The practice of meditation , yoga or some sports for the youths like taekwondo , judo , and aïkido or Qi Gong can give inner stength to avoid suicide . And I would add the magnificence of landscapes and numerous paths to walk or ride. I would quote too water sports in manas area for instance ..

      GUYS !! Even if you do not success , persevere in your studies , change of syllabus , cope as long s possible ; and search in every direction even if your diploma do not give you immediatly a job .

      An do not look down over blue collars works by looking only white sleeves works

      And if you failed in an exam , be ready to try another time or change the type of exam . NEVER be discouraged by a failure . Let you adapt to the possibility you could find , or create your own business with the help of some organization like Loden Fundation ( but you must expose your project in front of a jury) .

      I wait a deep article over reason which lead to suicide in Bhutan . Not figures showing statistics. A psychological analysis better than a scheme of figures . A qualitative analysis after a quantitative analysis . Perhaps the tradition has not yet evoluate from theater for tourist up to inner evolution for each human being of the country . That is a open question

      Let the lord give ideas to solve this important problem for the future

      jcmignien@orange.fr

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