Sri Lanka in the running for dubious honour
By Jamila Najmuddin
While Sri Lanka’s poverty levels continue to rise, not surprisingly the rate of suicides have also continued to rise, putting Sri Lanka in line for the dubious honour of having the largest number of suicide cases in the world.
Health authorities have also warned of a rise in the number of suicides amongst the elders – especially females – in the rural areas of Anuradhapura, Gampaha, Ratnapura and Kegalle.
While many elders commit suicide due to lack of love and care from their children, the authorities explained that a majority of old women ended their lives following disputes with their children.
According to Applied Psychologist, Psycho-Social Desk, Colombo National Hospital, Dr. Nimal Liyanage, more than 70 people who have attempted to commit suicide are now admitted at the General Hospital every two months following family disputes or poverty.
Dr. Liyanage explained that urgent psychiatric programmes should be conducted in order to educate the people in the affected areas.
"People, mostly women, have to be educated that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. People in the rural areas lack attention from the government and the authorities, and people think of ending their lives for the slightest problem," Dr. Liyanage said.
The doctor added that while poverty was one of the main reasons which drove elders to end their lives, alcohol was the second largest reason for committing suicide.
"Alcohol is a threat which leads people to end their lives. Programmes need to be conducted to educate the dangers of becoming an alcohol addict," he said.
According to statistics, 4,500 suicide cases had been reported in 2005, compared to the 4,200 in 2004. The year 2003 reported a total of 4,692 cases and 2002 a total of 4,955.
Statistics further revealed that Gampaha, Ratnapura, Kegalle and Anuradhapura recorded the highest number of suicides last year with Gampaha affected with 186 cases, Ratnapura 298, Kegalle 237 and Anuradhapura 207.
Jaffna also recorded 140 cases and Vavuniya 70 cases.