Choki Wangmo | Dagana

For the past few weeks, counsellors and principals of seven schools in Dagana were involved in suicide prevention and awareness programme in their communities across the dzongkhag.

Initiated by the dzongkhag administration, the programme was introduced in the wake of rising suicide cases in the dzongkhag.

Dzongkhag planning officer, Sonam Jamtsho, who is also the officiating dzongdag, said that counsellors could contribute in advocating on suicide prevention by going beyond the school campus.

“With the report of recent suicide cases, counsellors, district health officer, and the chief dzongkhag education officer were asked to develop a way forward to address the issue,” he said, after which Suicide Prevention Action Plan was developed for each counsellor.

The gewog administrations, Sonam Jamtsho said, were instructed to allocate budget provision for such activities in the future. “It would enable counsellors to work closely with the gewogs in reducing suicide cases in the communities.”

Principal of Drujeygang Central School, Tashi Wangchuk, said that while the focus of the programme was on the students, parents and public also play an important role in suicide prevention, as most of the cases were caused by societal issues.

He said that the communities were forthcoming, which was hopeful.

“Everyone is aware that suicide is harmful but there is a need for awareness for early detection, identification of symptoms, and support system for prevention,” he said.

Earlier this year, one suicide case was reported from the gewog.

A counsellor of Gesarling Central School, Sudar San Sharma, said that the community support and feedback was encouraging.

He said that youth are vulnerable and need strong support system from the communities.

Records with the Dagana police and health officials showed that the most people who took their own lives had a history of alcoholism.

Recently, a man with drinking problem in Gesarling took his own life.

Majority of the suicide cases in the past were reported from Tsangkha gewog.