Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sri Lanka: 120 attempted suicides a day

By Raisa Wickrematunge - An average of 12 people commit suicide a day in Sri Lanka, and there are 10 times more attempted suicides, according to Director of Sumithrayo Sri Lanka, Surangi Gunawardena.

However Gunawardena said that the suicide rate has actually declined since 1995.

In 1995 Sri Lanka had one of the highest suicide rates, with around 47 suicides per 100,000 persons. Now, Gunawardena estimated the rate at about 20 suicides per 100,000 persons.

“The rate has declined, but it is still too high.” Gunawardena said.

Gunawardena said the highest suicide rates were among the younger age groups, particularly tho

se between the ages of 18 and 30. The rate also increased after the age of 60, according to the Director.

Gunawardena added that it was usually a combination of psychological and social reasons, which lead to a suicidal situation. The three main factors, she noted were “inability to cope with difficult situations, mental health problems, and drug or alcohol abuse.”

It was noted that social and peer pressures were leading factors for teen suicides. However, even children as young as seven or eight have been known to attempt suicide.

There are also differences according to gender. More women than men say they have contemplated suicide, although more men have taken their own lives.

Gunawardena noted that media reports, which sensationalised suicide and gave details about the methods used often lead to “copycat suicides.”

Gunawardena noted that the current rate of 120 attempted suicides a day was worrying.

Meanwhile, Sumithrayo Sri Lanka, in a press release recently said that as attempted suicide was no longer considered a criminal offence, the majority of attempts were unrecorded. Gunawardena attributed the rising number of attempts to a lack of knowledge about resources available to the depressed.

Sumithrayo Sri Lanka has been operating for around 35 years, as a suicide prevention organisation. Their services are offered free of charge. They claim to “provide emotional support to people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those that may lead to suicide.”

Globally, one person commits suicide every 40 seconds, while there is an attempted suicide every three seconds.

© The Sunday Leader

Related Links:
Watch for signs: Depressed teenagers turning to suicide - The Sunday Times

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