A Roundtable Discussion on Approaches to Suicide Prevention in India Held in New Delhi 10th August 2022


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A Roundtable Discussion on Approaches to Suicide Prevention in India Held in New Delhi, 10th August 2022

  • Thursday, August 11, 2022 1:37PM IST (8:07AM GMT)
Esteemed Parliamentarians and Domain Experts discuss a pathway for a national suicide prevention policy and building a positive environment
New Delhi, Delhi, India:  The Policymakers’ Forum for Mental Health supported by Mariwala Health Initiative, SNEHA Chennai, The Lancet Psychiatry and ETI held a roundtable discussion on 10th August 2022, at the Constitution Club, New Delhi, to address the need for enacting a suicide prevention policy in India. The discussion also focused on the need to chart out a pathway for addressing the rising rates of deaths by suicide among the youth of India.
India holds the highest number of deaths by suicide and two-thirds are concentrated among the youth. Data from World Health Organization shows that there is a death by suicide every 40 seconds. The number of people affected by suicide is enormous. For every death that happens by suicide, there are about 60 people who are impacted due to the loss of a loved one, and more than 20 who attempt suicide. In 2019, suicide was the third leading cause of death in 15–29 year- old females; and the fourth leading cause for males of this age group. There was a 10 percent rise in deaths by suicide during 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdowns led to rising economic uncertainties and poor access to opportunities.

Addressing the challenge of mental health requires a long-term, collaborative, multidisciplinary effort, and a multi-stakeholder approach.
Dr Dalbir Singh, President, Policymaker’s Forum for Mental Health expressed that peer pressure, expectations of families and friends leads to rise in anxiety and depression and isolation among students. He supported the view about the introduction of supplementary examination. “Decline in good health incapacitates individuals, communities and societies and erodes productivity and well-being of our nation. It imposes huge social, emotional, and economic burdens. There are many barriers to effective prevention of suicide, including inappropriate media reporting, conflict in the interpretations of existing legal framework and lack of concerted strategy at the governmental level.”
Dr Joan Marsh, Editor-in-Chief, The Lancet Psychiatry in her guest note added “The challenge of deaths by suicide severely affects women, members of the LGBTQIA+ populations, young people, and persons with disability. These groups often do not get the opportunity to voice their opinions in public forum and lack access to healthcare facilities. It is pertinent that these voices are brought together and given a stage to speak.”
“The issue of suicide prevention needs a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder effort, and in this regard, a National Suicide Prevention Policy can act as a guiding document. At the same time, a community based and public health approach is essential for ensuring suicide prevention in the country. Ensuring that the services are available for everyone, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised populations, is the need of the hour. Only when we understand the priorities from the affected groups, can we build a holistic and positive environment for suicide prevention in the country,” added Ms Priti Sridhar, CEO, Mariwala Health Initiative.
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar, Founder, SNEHA Chennai provided the context to the discussion by highlighting the need to enact a national suicide prevention policy. She mentioned “Suicide is a major public health issue which needs prioritisation by the government at all levels. Deaths by suicide are prevalent among youth in the country, a phenomena that remains unique to India. Our work has shown the immediate need to bring together a national suicide prevention policy which must be released for a better future.”
Post this, a roundtable discussion between Esteemed Policymakers and Domain Experts moderated by Dr Dalbir Singh was held which discussed the way forward and how the policy structure can be developed to support building a positive environment for suicide prevention in India.
The session was concluded with a vote of thanks delivered by Mr Bhawesh Jha, Manager (Advocacy), Mariwala Health Initiative.

About Mariwala Health Initiative

MHI provides strategic support to organizations and collectives working within communities to provide greater access to mental health services for all. By fostering an environment of accessible, affirmative, rights-based, and user-centric mental healthcare, MHI seeks to visibilise narratives in mental health that centres structural determinants and foreground voices of historically marginalised communities. For more information, visit mhi.org.in or write to [email protected]
About SNEHA Chennai

Founded by Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar in 1986, it is India's premier suicide prevention centre. She actively worked for the inclusion of suicide prevention in India's National Mental Health Policy, and she is currently working towards the decriminalization of attempted suicide. She is a member of the WHO's Network on suicide research and prevention and a member of the International Academy of Suicide Research. She was the Vice President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention for four years. She was the first Indian woman to be awarded the Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, United Kingdom.
About the Policymaker’s Forum for Mental Health

Launched in 2021, The Policymaker’s Forum for Mental Health aims to bring together diverse stakeholders under one umbrella and seek attention of policymakers from different political parties to evolve Action Plan and suggested recommendations for formulation of Concerted Strategy for prevention of suicides. The Forum is guided by eminent domain experts and practitioners in creating the necessary evidence-based data.
About The Lancet Psychiatry

The Lancet Psychiatry is a journal that works with academic partners to identify the most pressing issues in psychiatry – across science, medicine, and global health – with the aim of providing recommendations that change health policy or improve practice. For more information, visit https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/home
About ETI

ETI signifies an 'arrival/approach'; to create safe and equitable access to health and security. ETI follows an approach of 'leave no one behind, emphasizing access to services for all, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized. ETI believes in evidence-driven interventions to ensure that the most effective solutions available are employed, to enhance program outcomes. To this end, ETI works closely with multiple stakeholders, including decision-makers, media, communities, technical experts, and well-known champions. The work is guided by in-house experts with over three decades of experience in government technical advisory, strategy, development, and academic research. 
For more information, visit www.etiservices.org or write to [email protected]

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