A woman who lived with her mother's corpse for four months is preparing to go home after getting treated for paranoid schizophrenia at IBHAS.(Ravi Choudhary/HT Photo)
A woman who lived with her mother's corpse for four months is preparing to go home after getting treated for paranoid schizophrenia at IBHAS.(Ravi Choudhary/HT Photo)

World Health Day | The great depression: Understanding the cause of suicides in India

Untreated depression is the leading cause of over 788,000 suicides that occur worldwide every year, roughly corresponding to one death in every 45 seconds.
By Sanchita Sharma | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 26, 2017 04:13 PM IST

April 6: A 36-year-old DTC driver shared his very first video message with his father over WhatsApp at Bindapur in southwest Delhi. It was a dying declaration, blaming some relatives for driving him to suicide. Before his father could react, he heard a scream. It was too late already.

April 3: A 23-year-old man jumped off the 19th floor of a hotel in Bandra, Mumbai, after uploading a suicide tutorial on Facebook. The video has gone viral.

April 1: Ten days after his wife committed suicide, a 30-year-old man from Kailash Nagar in East Delhi decided to follow suit. He was found hanging from the same ceiling fan that claimed her life.

While a handful of suicides make it to the news, a majority is reduced to becoming mere statistics on the police department’s crime data sheet. On many occasions, nobody even bothers to scrutinise the psychiatric issues that may have driven the person to taking the extreme step.

Untreated depression is the leading cause of over 788,000 suicides that occur worldwide every year, roughly corresponding to one death in every 45 seconds. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, it became India’s tenth-biggest cause of early death in 2015 – rising two positions from 12th in 2005. Most of the cases took root in undiagnosed and untreated depression.

This mental disorder affects nearly one in 20 people across India, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates . It has declared “Depression: Let’s talk” as the theme for World Health Day in an attempt to encourage people to come forward for treatment.

In conversation | Dr. Hank Bekedam, WHO India Head on World Health Day

“Depression is not a rare disease. It affects 4-5% people across the globe. In India, it is everywhere. Depression affects not only the patient, but also those close to them,” says Dr Henk Bekedam, WHO representative to India. “The number of people living with depression in India has increased by 18.4% between 2005 and 2015. Urbanisation is definitely a cause, as is minimal interpersonal interactions and the modern way of living (inactivity).”

Take, for instance, the case of a 42-year-old Delhi woman living behind locked doors with her daughter ever since her husband died in a road accident in 2013. When police finally rescued them on March 23, both weighed just 25 kg each.

Bekedam described depression as an ailment that few people like to talk about. “Those with depression find it difficult to come forward, and those around them find it difficult to recognise,” he said. It is more common among women (5.1%) than men (3.6%), and they are less likely to seek help or avail of treatment.

DEPRESSION
Down and Out
  • Symptoms: Feeling low, social withdrawal, low self-worth, disturbed sleep, changes in appetite (eating too much or too little), fatigue, listlessness, poor concentration, irritability and short temper.
  • If symptoms last for over two weeks, seek professional help.
Mind the Numbers
World
  • Over 322 million (or 4.4%) suffer from depression.
  • It’s more common among women (5.1%) than men (3.6%).
  • Has seen 788,000 suicide deaths, accounting for nearly 1.5% of all deaths worldwide.
India
  • Over 58 million people (or 4.5%) people suffer from depression.
  • Suicide is the 10th most common cause of early death.
  • Mental problems are the fifth-highest non-communicable cause of disability after heart disease, infections, neonatal disorders and cancer.

Many in India still don’t recognise depression as an ailment that can be treated and controlled. It is one of the leading causes of human rights abuse in the country, with affected people being locked up in rooms, tied to beds, kept isolated in hospitals or prisons or treated through traditional medical practices.

However, things are already taking a turn for the better. India’s new reformist mental healthcare bill decriminalises suicide and empowers the mentally ill to choose a mode of treatment, refuse institutionalisation, and nominate somebody to ensure that their wishes are carried out. It also bans the use of degrading treatments – including shock therapy – on children, and specifies that adults be subjected to them only after the administration of anaesthesia with the district medical board’s consent.

The government-run Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) in northeast Delhi runs the world’s busiest psychiatric out-patients department with over 900 people being treated every day. Despite the rush, hospital authorities remain sensitive to the needs of their patients. Even more remarkable is the fact that less than 1% people referred to this tertiary hospital from places across northern India are hospitalised.

“Even though most of the people brought here are critically ill, 99% get treated at home. If any patient does get hospitalised, it’s for a maximum of two to three weeks. Very rarely are they admitted for several months or years,” said Dr Nimesh Desai, IHBAS director. “Most long-stay patients are here because they have been abandoned by their families, or have no idea where they come from.”

Bollywood celebrities and popular media channels have played a laudable part in spreading awareness on depression over the last two years, spurring more people to seek treatment.

Source: The New England Journal of Medicine
Source: The New England Journal of Medicine

Psychiatrists wrote over 9.4 million new prescriptions for antidepressants in 2016, up 12% from 8.4 million in 2015. Data provided by AIOCD Pharmasofttech AWACS, a pharmaceutical market research company, shows that the sale of these drugs has shot up by over 30% in the last four years – from Rs 760 crore in 2013 to Rs 1,093 crore in 2016.

Still, a majority of the affected people remain undiagnosed. “Mental illnesses are chronic ailments that affect patients and their families for life. Psychosocial stressors – social attitudes, discrimination and deprived opportunities – add to the challenge of managing the illness. So we actively counsel patients and their families on the nature of the illness, treatment and possible side effects,” says Dr Jahanara M Gajendragad, associate professor and head of psychiatric social work, IBHAS. “Treating mental health disorders is a lifelong commitment for the patient, his/her family and the community as a whole.”

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
Republic Day 2021 GIFs and stickers(Unsplash)
Republic Day 2021 GIFs and stickers(Unsplash)

Make Republic Day 2021 special by sending unique stickers and GIFs on WhatsApp

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 08:30 AM IST
  • Trying to send a nice Happy Republic Day sticker to your family members? It is quite easy, checkout these quick steps that will let you download stickers and send GIFs on WhatsApp.
Close
Jim Sarbh in a block printed knotted angarkha tunic (Photo: Instagram/RajeshPratapSinghWorks)
Jim Sarbh in a block printed knotted angarkha tunic (Photo: Instagram/RajeshPratapSinghWorks)

26 letters which redefine Indianness

By Manish Mishra
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 12:57 AM IST
Indian fashion isn’t just exotic inspo that international brands can use as reference. It’s a discipline in itself
Close
What’s in store for Aries, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio and other zodiac signs.
What’s in store for Aries, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio and other zodiac signs.

Horoscope Today: Astrological prediction for January 26

By Dr Prem Kumar Sharma, Manisha Koushik, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 12:10 AM IST
Daily horoscope: Are the stars lined up in your favour? Find out the astrological prediction for Aries, Leo, Virgo, Libra and other zodiac signs for January 26.
Close
Maria Grazia Chiuri presents a couture collection steeped in Tarot symbolism (Photo: Instagram/Dior)
Maria Grazia Chiuri presents a couture collection steeped in Tarot symbolism (Photo: Instagram/Dior)

Couture steeped in Tarot symbolism

By Manish Mishra
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 12:01 AM IST
Dior Couture Spring 21 was a vibrant and lush canvas painted by Maria Grazia Chiuri’s epiphany inducing paintbrush where she referenced the mystique of Tarot cards
Close
Youngsters are engaging in poetry events, offline and online, ahead of Republic Day.
Youngsters are engaging in poetry events, offline and online, ahead of Republic Day.

Poetry lovers rejoice, here’s something to bring back your rhythm!

By Mallika Bhagat, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 07:52 PM IST
All the poetry lovers in the Capital, you are up for a treat in the coming days, with a number of events lined up, both online and offline.
Close
Men, take note! If you are a new father and insecure about the relationship with your partner, it may trigger postnatal depression, a new study suggested.(ANI)
Men, take note! If you are a new father and insecure about the relationship with your partner, it may trigger postnatal depression, a new study suggested.(ANI)

Depression in new fathers linked to relationship insecurities: Study

ANI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 06:51 PM IST
Men, take note! If you are a new father and insecure about the relationship with your partner, it may trigger postnatal depression, a new study suggested.
Close
IndiaFor the first time ever, Utsaah #spreadinghappiness, a concept showcasing Indian Culture online, will be beaming LIVE from the STUDIO to give viewers an enhanced Magical experience.(ANI)
IndiaFor the first time ever, Utsaah #spreadinghappiness, a concept showcasing Indian Culture online, will be beaming LIVE from the STUDIO to give viewers an enhanced Magical experience.(ANI)

Three-day Live Music Festival 'Utsaah MahaUtsav' Presented by LIC Organised

ANI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 06:24 PM IST
IndiaFor the first time ever, Utsaah #spreadinghappiness, a concept showcasing Indian Culture online, will be beaming LIVE from the STUDIO to give viewers an enhanced Magical experience. Titled Maha Ustav, presented by LIC of India, this is a brainchild of Durga Jasraj, Founder of Art and Artistes.
Close
Priyanka Chopra wears copper-coloured top worth <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>27k(Instagram/priyankachopra)
Priyanka Chopra wears copper-coloured top worth 27k(Instagram/priyankachopra)

Priyanka Chopra's WFH look includes stunning shirt worth 27k and comfy lowers

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 05:57 PM IST
  • One of Priyanka Chopra's Work From Home looks garnered more attention than the rest. Her fans loved her dark copper coloured formal blouse which she accessorised with statement gold jewellery.
Close
The language of hand gestures has worked as a bridge of communication for not only people with hearing and speech disabilities who are taking part in the camp. (Unsplash)
The language of hand gestures has worked as a bridge of communication for not only people with hearing and speech disabilities who are taking part in the camp. (Unsplash)

How sign language helped connect diverse 'mini India' at R-Day camp amid Covid

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 05:55 PM IST
Bengali, Gujarati, Tamil, Ladakhi, Assamese are among the Indian languages which can be heard at this year's Republic Day camp here, but there is a particular one being also used by various contingents - sign language, adding a layer of inclusivity to the diversity that the ceremonial event represents.
Close
Facilities will be created to give training and technical support to people here and empower them adequately to create skilled manpower to serve tourists in the most professional manner, the minister said.(Unsplash)
Facilities will be created to give training and technical support to people here and empower them adequately to create skilled manpower to serve tourists in the most professional manner, the minister said.(Unsplash)

Kargil to be developed as adventure tourism destination: Union minister

PTI, Kargil
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 05:47 PM IST
The Centre is committed to create international level infrastructure in Ladakh's Kargil district to make it an adventure tourism destination, Union Minister Prahlad Singh Patel said on Sunday.
Close
Austrian artist Arik Brauer, known for his surreal paintings and murals, has died at the age of 92.(AP)
Austrian artist Arik Brauer, known for his surreal paintings and murals, has died at the age of 92.(AP)

Austrian artist Arik Brauer dies at 92

AP
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 05:38 PM IST
Austrian artist Arik Brauer, known for his surreal paintings and murals, has died at the age of 92.
Close
According to the study, published in the journal 'Mental Health, Religion and Culture', spiritualist mediums might be more prone to immersive mental activities and unusual auditory experiences early in life.(Pixabay)
According to the study, published in the journal 'Mental Health, Religion and Culture', spiritualist mediums might be more prone to immersive mental activities and unusual auditory experiences early in life.(Pixabay)

Here's why some people 'hear the dead'

ANI, Washington [us]
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 05:31 PM IST
A study led by Durham University shed some light on why a few people adopt spiritualist beliefs and engage in the practice of "hearing the dead."
Close
Several artists and dancers performed for the Prime Minister in colourful attires and vibrant dances ahead of the Republic Day celebrations in Delhi.(PTI)
Several artists and dancers performed for the Prime Minister in colourful attires and vibrant dances ahead of the Republic Day celebrations in Delhi.(PTI)

PM Modi meets artists ahead of R-Day parade, urges them to strengthen India

ANI, New Delhi [india]
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 05:26 PM IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday interacted with artists, who will be performing in the 75th Republic Day Parade on January 26 and lauded the country's socio-cultural heritage.
Close
In a cross-cultural analysis, found several factors may have played a role in building the mutually beneficial relationship between humans and dogs, including temperature, hunting and surprisingly - gender.(ANI)
In a cross-cultural analysis, found several factors may have played a role in building the mutually beneficial relationship between humans and dogs, including temperature, hunting and surprisingly - gender.(ANI)

Study suggests women influenced coevolution of dogs, humans

ANI
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 05:11 PM IST
In a cross-cultural analysis, found several factors may have played a role in building the mutually beneficial relationship between humans and dogs, including temperature, hunting and surprisingly - gender.
Close
President Joe Biden will impose a ban on most non-U.S. citizens entering the country who have recently been in South Africa starting Saturday. (Unsplash)
President Joe Biden will impose a ban on most non-U.S. citizens entering the country who have recently been in South Africa starting Saturday. (Unsplash)

Biden to impose South Africa travel ban to combat new Covid-19 variant

Reuters
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 05:06 PM IST
Biden on Monday is also reimposing an entry ban on nearly all non-U.S. travelers who have been in Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland and 26 countries in Europe that allow travel across open borders.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP