In a country like India where already 1 in 5 Indians suffer from depression, this coronavirus pandemic is pushing our country into a mental health crisis.
According to WHO estimates, around 8,00,000 people commit suicide every year in the world. India alone accounts for approximately 30 percent of the world’s deaths resulting from suicide. In 2013, suicide claimed the lives of more than a quarter of a million Indians. That’s five times greater than all global deaths due to war and natural disasters combined.
According to the reports published by World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2018, India is the most depressed country in the world followed by China and USA with highest suicide rate in the South East Asia and by the end of 2020 about 20% of Indian population will suffer from mental illness.
In a large population of approximately 130 crore about 6.5% of Indians suffer from mental illness and because of the stigma attached to it only 10 – 20% of the people with mental illness seek help in India and the rest are forced to suffer in silence.
In a country where mental health budget is 0.05% of total health budget, 21 people die of every 1,00,000 people and 2,83,500 deaths due to suicide take place every year. We have highest number of teenage suicide rates globally. According to data compiled by NCRB every hour one student commit suicide in India, with about 28 such suicides reported daily. Nearly 10,159 students died by suicide in 2018 increasing from 9905 in 2017.
Suicide is one of India’s biggest silent killers and this pandemic is making situation worse for our country. According to an article by Economic Times published on May 5, 2020 about 300 people died due to suicide. 80 of them killed themselves due to loneliness and fear of being tested positive for the virus.
Devastation caused by this pandemic not only include death due to the virus but also loss of jobs, loss of homes, loss of business, pay cuts and the biggest recession of economy.
It is very obvious that this virus isn’t going to leave us soon and social distancing will continue to be a norm in most parts of the world for a long period of time which will place people at greater risk because many won’t find anyone to share their feelings with and many will not be able to take their medications.
The suicides taking place in our country is a wake up call for us to end stigmas attached to mental illness in our country and to take immediate actions to save our loved ones from this epidemic. This pandemic will hit those suffering from mental illness a little harder and we should make sure that they receive support from family members, friends, community, mental health professionals because they are in much need of all this.
One thing we should get straight is that each one of us goes through some mental problems at some point in our life and having a mental problem is not a sin so we should try our best to lift up each other during that phase of life so that they don’t feel alone during this tough time.