The coronavirus pandemic has spread rapidly across Nepal, generating a variety of emotional responses among the general public. This includes fear-related behavior that can lead to psychiatric morbidity and even suicide in vulnerable individuals.
Even though the country has somehow managed to restrict the deaths due to coronavirus infection, it has failed to stop the deaths by suicide.
Suicide was the leading cause for over 2,000 “non-coronavirus deaths” reported in Nepal due to distress triggered by the nationwide lockdown, revealed a new set of data compiled by Nepal Police.
According to the Nepal Police, a total of 2,218 people committed suicide during the lockdown.
The shocking revelations showed that at least 20 people committed suicide each day during the nationwide lockdown, while it was only 15 suicide cases a day in the last year. Before the pandemic, the number of suicide cases was at an average of 400 per month.
The investigation by the experts found a combination of depression, domestic violence, financial worries, and reduced access to healthcare as the primary cause of the spike in suicide cases.
“There are multiple factors behind the increased number of suicides during the lockdown,” said Dr. Sagun Ballav Pant, Psychiatry Professor at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH).
“During the lockdown, multiple problems hit the people all at once. From a disturbed regular routine to financial burdens due to job losses, people were hit hard by the circumstances. They couldn’t meet their friends and family members. The lockdown increased the already prevalent mental health risks among the people, increasing their financial burden,” exclaimed Dr. Pant.
Even though the data compiled by the Nepal Police showed the number of suicide cases at 2,218, mental health experts exclaim that the number could be higher as several suicide attempts are not reported to the authorities concerned.
At this juncture, the role of the Nepali Government, local units and the Nepal Police is crucial to protect the vulnerable individuals from committing suicide.
The Nepali Government should provide relief packages for vulnerable groups like daily wage workers.
“The government should provide loans at low-interest rates and come up with other schemes to support vulnerable groups,” said Jagannath Lamichhane, a Mental Health Expert.
Note: If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across Nepal.