That one person dies from suicide every 40 seconds somewhere on this planet is alarming. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is disappointed that the governments the world over are not doing enough to reduce the incidence of suicide. On September 10, the World Suicide Prevention Day is observed mostly ritualistically without doing the WHO-prescribed ground works. According to the UN body, timely registration and regular monitoring of suicide at the national level form the basis of prevention strategy against taking own life by someone. Only 80 out of 183 WHO member states which were covered in 2016 produced quality registration data. The number of countries to have framed strategies against the unlawful practice is even much lower -only 38. Unsurprisingly, countries which failed on both counts are low- and middle-income ones.
The only silver lining is that the rate of suicide has declined by 9.8 per cent globally during the five years up to 2016 from the publication of the first WHO report. However the pattern of this dreadful practice is uneven. While 79 per cent of the total suicides have occurred in low- and middle-income countries, the high-income countries had the highest rate at 11.5 per 100,000.
What is of special concern is that it is the leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29 years after only road casualties. Although the tendency of self-killing may remain dormant throughout old age, the greater proclivity among the young people should be a rude awakening for sociologists, psychologists, psychiatrists and political leaders all across the globe. It is a pity that the world appears to be a hostile place to the young ones who should be living a meaningful life.
Significantly, the young people in the WHO's age bracket are likely to be the most sensitive segment of society. At the threshold age of adulthood, they just cross in the Blakean term the realm of innocent to step into the world of experience. And theirs is an awkward, cruel and stifling experience. The uninitiated young people with the harsh ways of the world discover themselves misfit here. There is no guarantee that young people from only poor background develop such a horrible insight into social orders. Teenagers or youths from well-to-do or even affluent families may have reasons to be surprised on discovery that they are lonely and misunderstood.
TS Eliot made disparaging comment through his celebrated poems like Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock and The Wasteland on society full of hollow men and women. Today people have become only hollower. In societies steeply immersed in consumerism, people have no end to quench their thirst. They fail to look straight into their hearts and ask themselves if they have done anything to make things any better for anyone around themselves or society at large. Young, susceptible minds suffer the worst when they become witness to social and economic discrimination of outrageous proportion.
Gone are the days when political idealism guided people at least to pursue dream of changing the socio-economic order. Today, everyone is busy building a cocoon around himself or herself. Self-preservation is the governing motive, no concern for others wallowing in misery. The best example is that in the richest country of the world, the super rich have built some underground facilities in the face of a cataclysmic event. Predictions are that the world will come to an end in the future and they have ample preparation for such an eventuality. Earlier trenches were dug out during war for protection against air raids, now these underground shelters are built by a few real estate companies. The response from prospective buyers is highly positive there. Indeed, it is not easy for ordinary mortals to survive here. A review of today's lifestyle is overdue.