According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), suicides are not just associated with mental disorders. Among the leading causes of Why suicide rates may increase are factors besides mental instability, which include: a sudden emergence of a calamitous or a highly distressing situation, a moment or situation in life that leads towards decline; and trauma or tragic circumstances. 

Regarding the issue of suicide and its caues, WHO stated: 

“… many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis with a breakdown in the ability to deal with life stresses, such as financial problems, relationship break-up or chronic pain and illness. In addition, experiencing conflict, disaster, violence, abuse, or loss and a sense of isolation are strongly associated with suicidal behaviour…”

How is coronavirus likely to cause an increase in the cases of suicides in Pakistan? It is definitely not a far fetched claim. 

LATEST STATISTICS

In the last 24 hours, an astonishing number of 395 new cases have been reported taking the total tally of Pakistan to above 6000 — 6383 to be specific. A saddening number of 111 confirmed deaths have been reported while around 1500 patients have recovered. 

Why suicide rates may increase as Pakistan continues to combat COVID-19

Punjab [3143] retains its position at the top with the most cases reported while Sindh [1668] follows behind closely. 

Updated on: April 15th, 2020. 10:50 pm at https://www.covid.gov.pk/ 

Covid-19 and Pakistan

Consecutively, for the fourth month, the world continues to find itself in a state of partial paralysis as the coronavirus steadily and persistently carries on with its calamitous progression. 

The last four months have been spent in total disarray. The malignant respiratory disease — coronavirus — has hampered so many of the worlds’ affairs, it seems as if the world has been put on hold. 

Its lethality is evident by the rapidly growing numbers of deaths being reported every day. However, the increasing number of casualties due to the disease is not the sole threat that humans are confronted with. 

Experts have suspected that the long lasting repercussions of the disease on the world and its affairs, will not be, in any way, easy to overcome. The unforeseen calamity that has struck us will leave profound effects on the quality of life in the years to come. 

Covid-19: Pakistan’s battle strategy

Pakistan, being an underdeveloped country, was not, in any way, ready for the almost fatal blow that the pandemic struck it with as soon as it arrived. The country, already perched on shaky grounds in terms of economy and resources, took a staggering punch to the crumbling economy and the country’s development plan. 

However, it was quick to stabilise itself, imposing stringent lockdowns, almost immediately, throughout the country. The police and the special forces have since been standing vigil, enforcing the lockdown directive, not allowing civilians to violate the government’s ordinance. 

Why suicide rates may increase as Pakistan continues to combat COVID-19
Security personnel standing guard after the announcement of lockdown in Pakistan. 

As soon as the first lockdown came to an end, a positive minimization in the spread of the disease was observed, on account of which, a second lockdown was enforced for the upcoming fourteen days, in anticipation of a much better outcome. 

The second lockdown came to an end on April 14th. Recently, Prime Minister, Imran Khan announced the extension of lockdown throughout the country, until April 30th.

Covid-19 lockdown: consequences

Lockdowns, however effective they may be, have contributed to increasing the hardships of common people as well as threatening the stability of powerful, developed countries — let alone a country like ours, already struggling with development issues for decades. 

The pandemic has managed to garner mass hysteria, causing an upheaval in the country in a very short amount of time. The devastating effects of the disease on social life, economy, global mobility, imports and exports, transport and education are not going to be easily repairable. 

Risk of a possible spike rate in suicides?

While some may bring forth arguments against this claim, health experts and psychologists are worried about a possible spike rate in the number of people who resort to committing suicides in Pakistan due to the coronavirus crisis. 

Is their concern plausible? Possibly, yes. 

Why? There’s quite a few sound reasons. Here’s why:

 Income disparity/ Unemployment 

Income disparity has remained a burning issue in Pakistan. The disproportionate distribution of wealth has made economic inequality wide-spread. Almost all of Pakistan’s laborers and daily wage workers live hand to mouth. They bring in menial incomes which are barely enough to facilitate a comfortable life.  // Why suicide rates may increase

Why suicide rates may increase as Pakistan continues to combat COVID-19

What happens when lockdowns are imposed, not allowing daily wagers to step foot outside the house to earn a single rupee to feed their families? It is easy to suggest solutions while we sit in a comfortable bed, eating our favourite snacks but it is not easy to be the one going through it. 

Moreover, there is already speculation that a large number of the workforce has already lost their jobs amid the crisis. Estimates suggest a mild wave of the pandemic could render as much as 18 million people unemployed. 

As mentioned earlier,

many suicides happen impulsively in moments of crisis…’

WHO

When the repercussions of the crisis begin to interfere in the lives of such people, rendering them hopeless and helpless, what else would they resort to? Suicides do happen in moments of extreme crisis, after all. 

Anxiety, fear and solitude 

Already in a state of fear, when we hear of the growing numbers of infected individuals and casualties, and forecasts of the possible impacts of the disease on various spheres of life, we feel our resolve and courage waning.

There are people who suffer from long term anxiety and depression. The last thing that such people need in their lives is to be left in solitude. People are more likely to be happy when connected with friends and family.  // Why suicide rates may increase

Research suggests that while loneliness itself is not to be tagged as the reason behind suicides, it is related to mental health issues. Hence, during such dire conditions when almost all of the world is locked inside their homes, for people who are already facing mental health issues like depression and the like, the addition of loneliness to the mix will do more harm than good. 

The elderlies — and the youth — who were dependent upon psychiatric help, once or twice a week, who used to visit the parks often to let their thoughts wander away from depressing ones, now being forced to endure this lockdown will fall into a pit of endless solitude, ultimately resulting in a high risk of suicidal thoughts and attempts. 

Coronavirus carriers

Allegedly, in New Delhi, India, a suspected patient of the virus recently committed suicide by jumping off of a building while another suspect in India committed suicide by hanging himself. 

A 34 year old nurse working in the Intensive care unit in Italy, has also reported to have committed suicide after contracting the disease out of fear of being a cause of further spread of the disease. 

A few days ago, a video surfaced on social media in which a coronavirus patient, being held in isolation at Mayo Hospital, Lahore, was threatning to commit suicide due to ill treatment from medical staff. 

There are various other such reports regulating on the internet. Whether due to ill-treatment from family, friends and doctors or fear of being a carrier, suicides are happening. Although no confirmed cases of suicide have been reported in Pakistan, taking into account the increasing numbers of people who are opting to take their own lives, it would only be a matter of time before the ignorance and chaos starts pushing people to do the same. 

Fear of disease

Fear of the aftermath of contracting the disease is another factor behind the possible increase of suicide rates amid the pandemic. Dealing with the disease is a painful ordeal which is why there’s an increasing fear regarding infected patients attempting to end their lives in a ‘peaceful’ way rather than having to experience the pain and trauma that comes with the disease.  

With already a great deal of damage having been done, the last thing we can afford to face is another dilemma of suicide contagion. 

As for the lockdowns, the government has decided to allow flexibility to daily wage workers — barbers, saloons, manual laborers, street vendors, fruit and vegetable sellers and the like — while taking to Twitter, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the distribution of Rs. 144 billion amongst 12 million needy families during this time of absolute hysteria. 

Why suicide rates may increase as Pakistan continues to combat COVID-19

The initiative and the thought behind it is most considerate of the Prime Minister and hopefully will be appreciated by the public while reducing the stress of current events by providing some comfort to our labourers. 

Why suicide rates may increase as Pakistan continues to combat COVID-19

If you are aware of someone who might be at risk of suicide due to whatever reasons, call the following crisis/suicide helplines:

Suicide Prevention Helpline – MIND

Hotline: 042-35761999

Suicide Hotline: 15 / 115

// Why suicide rates may increase

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