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Pakistan Reader# 401, 15 November 2022

Gilgit-Baltistan :Why are suicide cases on the rise?



Bhoomika Sesharaj

On 14 November, Dawn reported a steep increase in the number of suicide cases in Gilgit-Baltistan and drew out the factors responsible for the same. Citing a report that was titled “Prevention of Suicides in Gilgit Baltistan”, Dawn said that the region has seen a drastic doubling of cases in the first seven months of 2022, as compared to the previous year. Of the 65 cases, 79 per cent of those deaths were between the ages of 15 to 39 years, with more than half of them being males. The epicentre of the cases was in the Ghizer district having 64.9 per cent of cases, followed by Gilgit, Skardu and other regions. The chief cause for the 556 cases were depression, mental health issues and domestic issues. 

The findings said that a lack of vigorous mechanisms wildly under-represent the real extent of these cases and that most households withhold information from the authorities in the fear of social stigma and the refuted attitudes of the religious leaders. The mental health emergency in the state is left unaddressed due to the lack of a community-based mental medical health service sector Further, the report said that the community of the region has various challenges at the administrative level, which hinders the progressiveness of policies to battle suicide cases. Stating that there is a “near absence” of mental health infrastructure in the public sector, the report emphasises the less prioritised sectors of mental health. It also points out the negligence of any system in the region to collect sufficient data, psychiatric evaluations and risk assessments of the individuals dealing with mental health issues. (Jamil Nagri, “What’s behind the rise of suicide cases in Gilgit-Baltistan,” Dawn, 14 November 2022; Mental health dilemmaDawn, 15 November 2022)

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