Over 300,000 at Risk of Committing Suicide in Pakistan

Around 130,000 to 300,000 people are at risk of making suicide attempts and about 13,000 to 15,000 people take their lives every year, said Professor Murad Moosa Khan.

Professor Murad is the first Pakistani and Asian to get elected as the President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP).

In countries like Pakistan, social factors such as unemployment, lack of access to health, education, housing, transport, justice, and poor law and order create a lot of stress. ‘Severe stress can lead to depression and other mental health illnesses that can lead an individual to think about committing suicide,’ said Khan.

“Most suicides are preventable”.

Around 90 percent of people who take their lives suffer from some sort of mental health illness at the time of suicide, of which clinical depression is the most common condition, he added.

National Mental Health Strategy

Pakistan needs a viable national mental health strategy, one that involves different stakeholders including the government, public and mental health professionals and NGOs, he said.

Khan suggested that training in the early recognition and management of common mental disorders has to be imparted to family doctors, lady health workers, and community people. They should be able to discuss symptoms with their patients, help them deal with stigmas attached to mental health and teach them coping skills.

Parallel to this, it is crucial that affordable and accessible mental health services should be developed as well. People should know where they have to go if they suffer from depression or any mental health problems, Khan further suggested.

Khan aims to work with key stakeholders and advise the government to invest in the mental health sector and come up with a suicide prevention strategy.

Murad Moosa – First Asian President of IASP

Professor Murad Moosa Khan has been elected as the president of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), the first Asian as well as the first Pakistani in the 60-year history of the Association.

Khan, a professor of psychiatry at the Aga Khan University, was selected as the head of the Association at the 29th IASP World Congress.

Khan said:

To me, this is a challenge as well as an opportunity to work with the global community, IASP professionals and volunteers, to prevent suicidal behavior in our societies.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 800,000 people die due to suicide every year in the world. For 15-29-year-olds, it is the second leading cause of death globally. Worse, for every suicide, there are many more people who attempt a suicide.

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