Suicide in Bangladesh is a common cause of unnatural death and a long term social issue. Of all the people reported dead due to suicide worldwide every year, 2.06% are Bangladeshi. According to a report by the World Health Organization, 21,523 people committed suicide in Bangladesh in 2019.
According to a report by Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital, Dhaka, around 6,500,000 people of Bangladesh are prone to suicide. The rate is 128.08 people per 100,000 commit suicide in Bangladesh every year. On average, adolescents aged from 15 to 19 years have an annual suicide rate of about 1 in 10,000 people. Among youths from 12 to 16 years of age, up to 10% boys and 20% of girls commit suicide.
The teen age is an anxious and unsettling period as boys and girls face the difficulties of transition into adulthood. It is a period in life that is often confusing and leaving teens feeling isolated from family or peers.
Unfortunately, some may at one point or another perceive suicide as a permanent answer to problems that are more often than not just temporary. The self doubts, confusion and pressures to succeed or conform can come at a high price for troubled adolescent.
Girls generally attempt suicide more often than boys, but boys are about 4 times more likely to die from the suicide attempt. This is because the methods that boys choose, often using firearms or hanging, are more lethal than those chosen by girls, namely drug overdoses or cutting themselves. According to a 2019 report by Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital, of the 128.08 per 100,000 people who committed suicide in 2019, 89% were women and most of them were unmarried. Most of the girls committed suicide as victims of stalking. From 2010 to 2019, 5,987 women and girls committed suicide because of physical and domestic violence.
Suicidal tendency among women in Bangladesh is higher, because they have inferior status in the society. Another factor is the higher rate of illiteracy and their economic dependence on men.
Hanging is the most common method of suicide in Bangladesh. Swallowing poison is another common method in Bangladesh to commit suicide. In urban areas, people follow other methods to commit suicide such as by an overdose of barbiturate tablets or by other means.
The most common reason for suicide is mental pressure and grief. These people tend to believe that their suffering is permanent, so they commit suicide to free themselves of their misery. Head of the Psychology Department Dr. Md Kamruzzaman Majumdar said, “When people do not get necessary support from their family and community, incidents of suicide increase”. He added, “Feelings of inadequacy contribute to ultimate feelings of helplessness. These negative feelings constantly keep an individual under pressure. Moreover, because we lead very busy lives, we do not give time to our friends and family.” So people tend to feel isolated. All of this is increasing the rate of suicide in the country. The doctor noted that family and the state can play an active role in remedying the situation.
Many troubling and difficult situations can make a teen consider the means of suicide. The same emotional states that make adults vulnerable to commit suicide also apply to adolescents. Those with good support networks are likely to have an outlet to help them deal with their feelings. Others without such networks are more susceptible during their emotional changes, and may feel that they are all alone in times of trouble.
Apart from the normal pressures of teen life, specific circumstances can contribute to an adolescent’s consideration of suicide. It’s especially difficult, when adolescents are confronted with their problems that are out of their control, such as divorce, a new family formation, moving to a different community, physical or sexual abuse, emotional neglect and exposure to domestic violence, alcoholism at home, substance abuse.
Many suicides are committed by people who are depressed. Depression is a mental health disorder. It causes chemical imbalances in the brain, which can lead to despondency, lethargy or general apathy towards life. Symptoms of depression in youth are often overlooked or passed off as being typical “adolescent turmoil”.
Another serious problem, that can lead teens to suicide or aid in their plans to end their lives, is the easy access many of them have to firearms, drugs, alcohol and motor vehicles. For the general population, about 30% of suicides involve firearms. Of all firearm-related deaths that occur, about 80% are suicides.
In November 2019, when the news of the death of Aritry Adhikary made headlines, it shed light to an age-old problem that remained under wraps for years in Bangladesh. Aritry, a ninth-grader of the Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, committed suicide as she couldn’t stand “abusive statements’ hurled at her allegedly by her teacher.
Imam Hossain, a second year student of Dhaka University, committed suicide (17 August, 2020) after posting a status on Facebook. He took his own life at his room in Barishal town on Monday.
How to Help
It’s essential that one take suicidal behaviour or previous attempts seriously and get assistance quickly. Aside from professional treatment, suicide-prone teen needs to know there are people who care, and who are available to talk to. Good support means listening to what’s troubling somebody without passing judgment on his or her feelings. A person should be reassured that there are always solutions to problems or ways other than suicide for coping with them. Giving an adolescent the chance to open up and talk about his or her feelings will help relieve some of the distress of those intense emotions, and make that person feel less alone.
Some parents may find that their adolescent child resists their advances and isn’t willing to confide in them. When teens insist their parents just “don’t understand,” it might be a good idea to suggest they talk to a more objective or emotionally neutral person. This can include other family members, religious leaders, school counselor, a coach or a trusted doctor.
It is very important to seek professional help for the young generations, who may be suicidal. Guidance from the counselors can help ensure that a distressed young receives the needed assistance. Short-term and long-term care can minimize the risk of committing suicide and help people find alternative solutions to cope up with extreme distress.
(Authoress is a student in the Department of Law in the Jagannath University. The views expressed are personal.)