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National Suicide Prevention Strategy

Context:

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare unveiled the National Suicide Prevention Strategy — the first-of-its-kind policy formulated by the government to prevent suicides as a public health priority.

Relevance:

GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About India’s National Suicide Prevention Strategy
  2. National Suicide Prevention Strategy: Objectives
  3. Stakeholders in implementation framework
  4. Suicides in India: What’s the current scenario?
  5. Ongoing suicide prevention initiatives in India

About India’s National Suicide Prevention Strategy

  • According to the ministry, the policy that will set the stage for promotion of mental health and prevention of suicides in the coming decade.
  • The goal of the strategy is to reduce suicide mortality in the country by 10 per cent by 2023.
  • The strategy provides a framework for multiple stakeholders to implement activities for prevention of suicides in the country.

National Suicide Prevention Strategy: Objectives

  • It seeks to establish effective surveillance mechanisms for suicide within the next three years.
  • It seeks to establish psychiatric outpatient departments that will provide suicide prevention services through the District Mental Health Programme in all districts within the next five years.
  • It aims to integrate a mental well-being curriculum in all educational institutions within the next eight years.
  • To strengthen surveillance of suicide and further generation of evidence through evaluation, that will ensure improvement in the programme quality.

Stakeholders in implementation framework

  • The implementation framework of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy envisions five key stakeholders responsible for realising the objectives.
  • These include national-level ministerial stakeholders, state-level governmental stakeholders, district-level governmental stakeholders, NIMHANS-Bangalore and other top mental health institutes, and strategic collaborators.
Implementation mechanism
  • Reinforcing leadership, partnerships and institutional capacity in the country
  • Enhancing the capacity of health services to provide suicide prevention services
  • Developing community resilience and societal support for suicide prevention and reduce stigma associated with suicidal behaviours.

Suicides in India: What’s the current scenario?

  • According to the annual report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), released in August, 1.64 lakh people died by suicide in 2021 — an increase of 7.2 per cent from 2020.
  • This is 10 per cent higher than the COVID deaths (1.48 lakh) in India in 2020, and 6.8 times the maternal deaths (23,800) in the same year.
  • The NCRB report also stated that more than 1,00,000 people die by suicide in the country every year.
  • A total of 25,891 suicides were reported in the 53 megacities of the country during 2021, with the highest in Delhi.
  • In the past three years, the suicide rate in the country has increased from 10.2 to 11.3 per 1,00,000 population.
  • Most suicides in India are by youth and middle-aged adults — with 65 per cent of the suicides in 2020 being reported in the age group of 18-45 years.

Ongoing suicide prevention initiatives in India

  • The National Mental Health Policy (2014) sees prevention of mental disorders, reduction of suicide and attempted suicide as core priority areas.
  • The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 brought in some necessary changes.
    • The Act that came into force from May 2018 effectively decriminalised attempted suicide, which was punishable under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code.
    • It ensured that the individuals who have attempted suicide are offered opportunities for rehabilitation from the government as opposed to being tried or punished.
  • Several national programmes such as the National Mental Health Program, National Palliative Care Program, Ayushman Bharat and Nasha Mukti Abhiyaan Task Force are also in place.

-Source: Indian Express


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December 2022
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