Decriminalisation of Suicide Attempts : A Laudable Step
The recent move by the parliament to decriminalise suicide attempts and consider the survivors as those who require medical attention and not punishment is a laudable step for the country. WHO’s new global health estimates on depression says that over 5 crore Indians suffered from depression and over 3 crore others suffered from anxiety disorders.
What makes a person to decide that he no longer wants to live? Is it due to severe financial crunch or social stigma or some mental illness that one tends to commit suicide? A person who is so full of negative thoughts and in great depression that he virtually sees no hope of betterment in future, is it then justified to consider the attempt to suicide by such a person a crime?
Should he be penalised or helped? Well, the earlier mental health law used to consider him a criminal and penalised him. But now, in an effort to empower and protect people with mental illness, the government has passed an improvised and more effective Mental Health Bill. It has sought to exempt the survivors of suicide attempt with trial and punishment on the presumption that they are under severe stress and therefore, need to be rehabilitated and given special care.
The reformed bill will also thus ensure the rights of mentally ill people to have medical help and psychotherapy following the directives of the government. Apart from the onus on the administration to tackle the shortage of mental health professionals in our country and to provide good medical facilities of international standards, each and every one of us should see that treatment is provided in time to a person suffering from depression or anxiety.
This bill is the first progressive step in the direction of efficient community health care which should be acknowledged and appreciated.
According to WHO figures, the total cases of depressive disorders in 2015 in India were 5,66,75,969 which was 4.5% of population in 2015 while total cases of anxiety disorders were 3,84,250,93 which was 3% of the population in the same year period.
For depressive disorders, WHO said total Years Lived with Disability (YLD) in India was 1,00,504,11 which was 7.1% of total YLD, for anxiety disorders, total years for YLD was 35,19,527 which was 2.5% of total YLD.
The document noted that in 2015, an estimated 7,88,000 people died due to suicide while many more than this number attempted but did not die. It said suicide accounted for close to 1.5% of all deaths worldwide, bringing it into the top 20 leading causes of death in 2015.