About 92 suicide cases, seven each month or at least one a week were reported in the country last year.
The cases are 14 less than the previous year. Of the reported cases, 58 are male.
Samtse, with 15 suicide cases saw the highest number of suicides last year, followed by 12 in Thimphu and 11 in Chukha. Sarpang reported nine suicide cases while Paro and Samdrupjongkhar reported eight and six suicide cases each.
Except for Gasa and Haa, the rest of the dzongkhags reported five and fewer cases last year.
Chief programme analyst with the National Suicide Prevention Programme at the health ministry, Yeshi Wangdi, said that earlier there were no reporting system or a registry and many cases could have gone unreported.
“In order to have a baseline and also to put the service in place, we established a registry system in all dzongkhags and reports are generated at the local government level,” he said. “All cases were investigated together with health and police.”
After the suicide registry was started in 2016, it was made mandatory for all suicide cases to be registered and no cases could have gone unreported, he said.
Occupation wise, farmers, at 34, committed the highest number of suicides.
However, Yeshi Wangdi said there was no definite definition of farmers and those who lived in a village and committed suicide were all reported as farmers. “I had to seek definition from the National Statistics Bureau and also the agriculture ministry since it is related to agriculture, but there is no definite definition. So it would not be correct to say that all 34 are actual farmers.”
It was found that some of the victims who worked as a contractor and lived in the village were also reported as farmers.
About 26 persons who committed suicide were employed while 12 were housewives and 10, students. Five were unemployed while two were retired individuals. No occupation information was known about three individuals.
Of the total reported cases last year, the highest number of suicide cases was between the age of 21 and 40 years.
Of the 34 who attempted suicide last year, 24 were females. Relationship issues including extramarital affairs were the most common reason cited for a majority of attempted suicide cases.
The issue was also found to be one of the main underlying factors in completed suicides.
Going by the investigation of the reported cases, mental illness, alcohol and drugs, and economic factors were some of the factors for them to commit suicide.
He said that people with mental illness do not kill themselves because of the disease, but it is a triggering factor.
The programme has completed a review of the three-year suicide prevention action plan that, the cabinet had endorsed in May 2015 to address the increasing number of suicides in the country. The programme has come up with a new five-year suicide prevention action plan.
He said that the five-year action plan, which was in line with the 12th Plan was developed considering the review of the three-year action plan.
“We have conducted a series of consultations with the implementing partners, the stakeholders who have the mandate to implement the suicide prevention action plan, and consulted with all the dzongkhag health officers and drafted the new action plan,” he said.
The final draft of the action plan is complete and would be put up to the ministry for directives.
He said that psychological and social factors were reported as the leading causes of suicide in the country. “So, we need a clear action plan which is already drafted.”
The action plan clearly includes who has to do what at what level, he said.
For instance, he said that if suicide is occurring among students, it is important for the relevant sector or the agency to study the underlying cause among students in that locality to put in place appropriate interventions.
Similarly, he said farmers are with the local government and the dzongkhag administrations are in a better position to intervene in their locality.