KARACHI: Poverty and the lack of adequate health facilities are the main reasons for suicide in Sindh, said speakers at a seminar by the Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on Friday.
SHRC chairperson Justice (retd) Majida Rizvi, during the seminar titled 'Increasing Incidence of Suicide in Thar', said that she had found that poverty, social customs, marginalisation and social and class discrimination were cited by locals as the reasons for the increasing suicide rate in Tharparkar. "Issues related to mental health were also pointed out as one of the causes," she said, adding that the desert district was the most vulnerable area in this regard in November last year.
"People in the province, especially in Thar, have suffered immensely due to lack of governance and increasing poverty in the district," explained Zulfiqar Shah, the joint director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER). "It is time for the state to take steps to ensure that their grievances are heard and their issues resolved."
More resources needed to alleviate poverty
Anis Haroon, a former member of the National Commission for Human Rights, highlighted the lack of proper health facilities in Sindh, pointing out that every other person was facing psychological concerns nowadays. "Poverty is also rampant, which is a major cause of suicide," he added.
Speaking as the chief guest, Sindh Women Development Minister Syeda Shehla Raza, who had also visited the impoverished district, said that not only women but also men took their own lives. "Poverty is the main reason," she stated, adding that child marriage and domestic violence also played a role in these incidents.
Meanwhile, PILER executive director Karamat Ali, said that unless there was an improvement in policing, society would not progress. "The Sindh Public Safety and Police Complaints Commission has a role to play in containing the number of suicides in the province, and we will provide any support we can to deal with the issue."
In Pakistan, millions more to fall below poverty line
At least 114 persons committed suicide in the provincial capital between July 2018 and June 2019, disclosed the SHRC's fifth annual report. A total of 337 people, including women and children, killed themselves for different reasons across Sindh in this duration.
The report states that Umerkot, with 24 suicide cases, was second to Karachi, while 18 cases were reported in Qambar-Shahdadkot, 17 in Tando Allahyar district and 16 in Tando Muhammad Khan.
Meanwhile, 14 persons were reported to have committed suicide in Mirpurkhas, 13 in Naushero Feroze, 12 each in Badin and Hyderabad, and 11 each in Sajawal and Tharparkar.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2020.