Analysis of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (subsequently published by the British Medical Journal) reveal a whopping 126 percent rise in suicides among Indian women across the period from 1990 to 2010. A Lancet article estimated that there were 187,000 suicides among over 15s in 2010. The horrifying statistics speak a different story though. According to the study 40 percent of those suicides among men and 56 percent among women occurred between the ages of 15 and 29, and the rates were higher among well-educated young people in wealthier populations.
Now this should come as a smack on the faces of those pundits who have held economy as the prime cause of such reckless end of lives. A far more sinister, coal mine deep reason clogs our society. Our deplorable mental health. Numbers again. According to a study conducted by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, just 24 percent of people with mental disorders ad 28 percent with post –traumatic stress disorders get treatment, as opposed to 91 percent of people with high blood pressure Let us get the perspectives right. No one doubts the economic reasons behind the explosive number of suicides by the farmers.
None doubts the screaming social determinants of marital violence, rape and caste related bigotries behind feminine suicides. Yet beyond and behind all these blatant factors, lie the overwhelming majority locked in silent, unprovoked suffering. The undiagnosed depressed, the silent schizoid, the suppressed bipolar. Like leprosy, mental issues are still taboos of an Indian society that can take pride in recognizing a cancer survivor but not a cured schizoid. Yet, the literature is very clear. Depression, as indeed most psychiatric disorders are as deep in affluence as in poverty. And here lies the tragedy.
There’s no dearth of psychiatrists of excellence, no paucity of treatment modalities, no lack of appropriate drugs. However, like gods in a temple, we throttle those suffering from emotional disorders in dark, confined spaces. In other words what we utterly lack is an educated mindset. A mindset that can acknowledge that it is not a sin to be depressed, whether it is endogenous or post partum or post stress. A mindset that will boldly come forth and take refuge in psychiatrists, psychologists, or counselors accordingly. A social mindset that can support and cradle the wordless sufferer hungering for the rope as a last resort.