Sadik Bin Sazzad was unhappy about things that usually disturb many teenagers like him. He was unhappy about his SSC results, and he was unhappy about being overweight.
His family members knew how he was depressed but did not know that he was suicidal. On September 30, the twelfth grader shot himself in the head with his father's licensed pistol. His suicide note said he was not being able to meet so many expectations.
Suicide is preventable, especially the cases such as Sazzad's where people around him knew he was upset about many things yet failed to address it and provide necessary treatment.
According to WHO (World Health Organization) statistics, in 2014, an estimated 7.8 people per lakh died from suicide in the country. In 2017, the figure was 6.1 per lakh whereas in 2018 it was 5.9 per lakh.
Although the rate is decreasing, the numbers are still alarming. The Police Headquarters data shows that in 2017 alone, 11,095 people committed suicide.
Bangladesh has to decrease its rate of suicide by 10 percent by the year 2030 in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) but the country is still way behind in achieving so.
This year on Mental Health Day, WHO has declared the theme to be "suicide prevention". In the Southeast Asian region, including Bangladesh, suicide is the second largest reason for deaths of people under the age group of 15-29.
In western countries, people over the age of 40 commit more suicides whereas in Bangladesh, young, married young women tend to commit more suicides. Risk factors behind these suicides include anxiety, depression, drug addiction and financial crisis.
Associate Professor, Child Adolescent and Family Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and WHO Bangladesh Programme Manager, Dr Helal Uddin Ahmed said, "No one is immune to suicide, and anyone can commit it regardless of their age, gender, religion or societal status."
There are two kinds of suicide – definitive and impulsive. Definitive ones are planned whereas the impulsive ones happen in spur of the moment. However, both are preventable and family and friends can play a great role to prevent them from happening.
On preventing suicide he said, "Suicide prevention is everyone's work, it is a multi-sectoral approach. While it is true that the NIMH provides technical support, ultimately the government has to work hand in hand along with WHO to garner sustainable results.
"Role of the media plays a crucial role in preventing suicides, as does our cumulative attitude towards mental health. Suicide sensitizing and responsible reporting is necessary for every media house," he added.
The authority seems less concerned about the death rate out of suicide. National Institute of Mental Health in Sher E Bangla Nagar is working its best to identify the reasons that cause suicide and are trying to intervene through public communication in the country.
Nevertheless, to prevent suicide from society, from all walks of life, people have to be more cautious and sensitive about it.
The National Mental Health Institute (NIMH)
For a population of 16 crore, there are only 250 psychiatrists.
There is no denial that mental health is a concerning issue in Bangladesh. One in five people suffer from depression but they are unable to identify the problems and does not seek help due to ignorance and social stigma.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), which was inaugurated on April 18, 2001 in the capital, is trying to cater to patients of mental illness. The six departments in the centre consist of adult psychiatry, geriatric and organic psychiatry, community and social psychiatry, child and adolescence psychiatry, organic psychiatry and psychotherapy, clinical psychology and psychiatric social work.
Every day, the outdoor serves 350-400 patients until 2:30pm and it costs a mere Tk10 to buy a ticket. With 200 beds, 30-40 psychiatrists, and only 1 psychologist, NIMH is the only public hospital that religiously offers treatments for mental health disorders. The standard government rates for a hospital bed is Tk170 whereas a cabin costs Tk340.
Other than providing medical assistance, NIMH also arranged for rallies, symposiums and monthly open discussions with students, teachers and social workers. A department of drug addiction has recently been introduced in the institution as part of its ongoing development.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, as Dr Helal believes, "WHO has undertaken a ten-year plan to decriminalize suicide. Last year we trained 200 journalists on sensitizing suicide and this year we plan to train 200 teachers. So this way, we will be gradually able to reach out to more people and the situation would, thus, ameliorate."