Today is Mental Health Awareness Day all around the world, but how does it affect people in Pakistan?

According a private news source, between 15-35 people end their lives in Pakistan every day- amounting to almost one person an hour. It is estimated that around 800, 000 people lose their lives to suicide every year.

In addition to this, suicide rates have proved to be the highest among young people and the second leading cause of death in the age group of 15-29 years old around the world. Pakistan’s youth makes up 57.9% of the population.

survey was conducted by Dawn News that showed out of more than 5000 people:

  • 45% said they had had suicidal thoughts
  • 43% said they personally knew someone who has attempted suicide
  • 38% said they personally knew someone who had taken their life

In Pakistan, suicide is considered a criminal offence according to Pakistan Penal Code 306, as taking one’s life is forbidden in Islam. However, if the government hopes to control the rising suicide rates in the country, they must decriminalize suicide and offer better mental health care services in medical institutions.

Doing so should greatly reduce the fear of reaching out when having suicidal thoughts, or when plagued by a mental illness, which would allow medical experts to conduct proper research into the issue and determine how to fix it.

Improving services of existing medical institutions would allow a larger group of people to seek help for their disturbances; currently, therapy and rehabilitation are seen as a luxury reserved for higher class citizens.

On this day, we can take some time out to reach out to our loved ones and offer our support. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia are some common mental illnesses that plague many people in Pakistan. The least we can do until more research is conducted and services are improved, is be more mindful- for ourselves and for others.

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