Every year, around 800,000 people will take their own life, according to the World Health Organization. While the rise affects every age group under 75, the strongest increase lies in the rate for girls between the ages of 10 and 14.
Suicide rates have also been rising in nearly every Pakistani city—and the rise is most stark among teenagers and young people (single men and married women) under the age of 30 years.
Despite this, there are no official statistics on suicide from Pakistan. Deaths by suicide are not included in the national annual mortality statistics. National-wide suicide rates are neither known nor reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) either.
To fight this and provide better crisis support, a suicide prevention helpline by the name “Happy KP” was recently launched in Peshawar as a joint venture by two non-government organizations (NGOs).
Happy KP is a newly-founded crisis support and suicide prevention helpline that aims to provide confidential support and one to one counselling to citizens of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The helpline is a joint venture of Blue Veins and Gender Response Advocacy Centre Ensuring Equality (GRACEE).
The helpline will provide free and confidential support over phone, email, video and chat and will organize team events, and one to one counselling to citizens of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The helpline will also organize awareness events in the communities and in the educational institutions.
The helpline number “0337 9216207” will connect the requesters with the mental health experts at GRACEE organization.
The helpline will initially provide its services in the central zone of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including Peshawar, Mardan, Charssada, Nowshera and Swabi.
At the launching event of Happy KP, chairperson GRACEE Ammara Iqbal shared her thoughts about the recent rise in suicide cases in the region. She said that in recent years, suicide incidents had increased in the province and it had become a major public health issue.
“In recent years, incidences of suicides appear to have increased in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and suicide has become a major public health problem. From the available evidence, it appears that most suicides occur in young people (single men and married women) under the age of 30 years. Hanging, use of insecticides and firearms are the most common methods and interpersonal relationship problems and domestic issues as the most common reasons for suicide,” said Ammara Iqbal.
She also added that the most common reasons for suicide were interpersonal relationships and domestic issues. Hanging, use of insecticides and firearms are the most common methods of suicide in the region.
Sana Ahmad Senior Program officer Blue Veins also shared her thoughts about suicide prevention. She said that to reduce the suicide rate in our region, community-based interventions would be initiated. These include crisis management, self-esteem enhancement, development of social skills and healthy decision-making”.
Qamar Naseem, who is a Human Rights activist involved in the design of the initiative told the media, “ the traditionally low rates of suicide and the protective influence of Islam appears to have undergone a radical change in Pakistan and suicide has become a major public health problem. There is a need for collaboration between government, non-governmental organisations and public and mental health professionals to take up this challenge”