The World Health Organisation reports that suicide in some Asian countries is more likely to be an impulsive act with pesticides a chosen method in rural areas. The scale of the problem is unknown and, with a lack of official recording of deaths by suicide, is probably much greater than estimated.

Community workers and health practitioners are very aware of the effects of suicide and the religious, political and financial challenges faced in order to help prevent it. It is through their dedication and commitment that small but significant changes are taking place.

This section profiles some of the work undertaken in Pakistan and Bangladesh by STORM® Facilitators Dr. Safi Afghan and Dr. Shahid Quraishi who have been delivering STORM® here since 2006.

Dr. Safi Afghan

"Suicide prevention in Pakistan is crucially important. There are no credible figures, but based on media and police reports, there appears to have been a sharp increase in suicide rates in the past decade. We think this is due to unprecedented levels of unemployment and poverty mediated through terrorist attacks and political instability in the country. It has traditionally been lower than neighbouring countries such as India and Sri Lanka. This, according to a local expert and researcher on suicide Dr M, Khan at the Aga Khan University, may be explained partly due to Islamic religious and cultural beliefs that consider suicide a sin and that alcohol, a factor in increased suicide risk, is forbidden.

"Delivering the STORM® workshops in Pakistan and Bangladesh has helped practitioners gain insights into psychological and psychiatric factors relevant in suicidal behaviour, as well as challenging prevalent myths around suicide. The workshops have also provided an opportunity to promote mental health with practitioners from other professions. Raising awareness and teaching how to recognise the various manifestations of distress, such as muteness or the inability to move limbs. Not only have practitioners benefited from learning the skills needed to assess and manage suicide risk, but we have also learned from delivering the training. We now have a better idea about what adaptations are needed to make the training linguistically and locally specific which is important in such a diverse cultural landscape."

 

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