Have you ever thought of suicide? I am not talking about committing suicide, I am talking about suicide as a mental health problem.
Now, when someone commits suicide, the public judgment is to blame the victim. They could be called weak, coward, crazy or mental.
Guess what, the world we live in creates at least as many as 800,000 of those people. That is the number of people who die due to suicide every year. That number does not include the number of people who actually commit suicide and fail to die. The number of people who commit suicide can be 5 times more than those who die due to it.
That number does not include all those cases that are not reported as suicide due to the stigma attached to it. There is one study in India that show the actual number of people who die by suicide is 10 times higher than the official estimate.
That number does not include the families of those people who are going to struggle with the stigma of suicide attached to them all their lives.
I have heard many stories that mentally-ill patients wished to have a physical disease so that they could go to the doctor hoping that the doctor catches the mental disease.
Let me remind you of a well-known fact; humans are not purely physical beings. They have a mental part. They are spiritual. They feel. They need a sense of purpose. These mental aspects of human are not separate from their physical aspects. Almost all of our somatic (read physical) diseases have a mental component to them.
The Lancet published a review in 2007 exposing links between mental disorders (depression, schizophrenia, cognitive impairment, and other common and serious mental disorders) and non-communicable diseases (heart disease, stroke, and diabetes), communicable disease (HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis), and maternal and child health (child growth and infant mortality). I know that’s a long sentence, but here is the shorter version. Many physical diseases are linked with mental disorders.
What is the solution? Mental diseases should not be seen as isolated, independent illnesses that require separate human, financial and physical resources. There should be an integrated approach. The resources that we already have in the health care systems should develop capacity and capabilities to address mental health issues alongside other diseases.
Most importantly, when all other physical diseases fail to kill our youth, suicide does the job. Suicide is the number 1 killer among teenagers aged 11 -19. Each time someone dies due to suicide, it is not his or her failure. It is our failure as a society. We fail them, the youths, the veterans, and the farmers.
To understand suicide, here is a popular book Night Falls Fast, Understanding Suicide.