It is sad that one of the serious scourges of modern Bhutan – suicide – doesn’t get the attention it really deserves. Some even hold that Bhutanese have no reason whatsoever to take their own lives.
Trivialising the issue by brushing aside the seriousness if this national malady is being irresponsible.
Suicide incidences in the country is increasing going by the reports made available to media. The number of suicide incidence in the country increased to 106 last year from 92 in 2016. We also know, from the reports, that young people are more likely to take their own lives. Of the total reported suicide cases last year, the highest (27) was among persons between ages of 21 and 30 years.
We also know that the most common factor that leads people to take their own lives is depression. Other factors like domestic violence and relationship issues should be counted in because they are all related. According to the reports, 15 people took their own lives because of mental illness.
Some say that the three-year action plan to prevent suicide should be credited for what it did – bringing the number of incidences to the national record. Others do not think so. People do not willingly throw themselves off the cliff or hang themselves.
Dealing with suicide will require looking at the health of the society. That is looking at the health of the citizens. If our young people are resorting to substance abuse, which is the leading cause of mental illness, saying that the Bhutanese have no reason to commit suicide is not only a wasted argument, it is demeaning.
When youth unemployment is leaving our young people hopeless, when our farmers, challenged as they are by shortage of farmhands and increasing crop predation decide to put an end to their own lives, it is time we looked at our policy failures that gave rise to malady such as suicide. It has been established that close to 60 percent of completed suicide cases involved those who earned less than Nu 3,000 a month.
The plan we had to prevent incidences of suicide in the country has lived its age. And we are wiser today. The next action plan should be able to fill the gap between societal development and their impact on the people.
Looking squarely at suicide numbers will get us nowhere. In fact, that will be another failure in the general narrative of this nation’s success.