Health: A 32-year-old man committed suicide in Sunkosh, Tsirang, last week.

His medical history later revealed that he was depressed.

Two weeks before his death, another 36-year-old farmer had committed suicide in Rangthaling gewog.

According to a report with the Tsirang police, he too was suspected to have suffered from depression. The victim also allegedly had an extra marital affair.

On March 5, another 22-year-old man claimed his own life in the remotest gewog of Tsirang, Phuntenchu. The man was suffering from prolonged asthma. His medical history also revealed depression.

In all, three people committed suicide last month in Tsirang. All of them were male and farmers.

From Tsirang,  28 people clamed their lives between 2011 and March 28, this year. Four committed suicide last year, six in 2014 and seven in 2013. In 2012, one committed suicide and another seven in 2011.

This is an alarming number for a dzongkhag with less than 30,000 people.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay raised this issue at the recent midterm review of the dzongkhag. “This is a big issue and the number might increase by the year,” he said. “The dzongkhag and gewogs must immediately do something about it.”

Lyonchoen directed the Public Health Department to assist Tsirang in implementing the National Suicide Prevention Action Plan.

Soon after the action plan was launched last year, the dzongkhag began building the capacity of health workers in the Basic Health Units. Since then awareness on mental illness has been on-going at the community level.

Dzongkhag health officer (DHO), Tashi Dawa said the dzongkhag is in the process of forming a dzongkhag level suicide prevention committee including members from the armed forces, dratshang, local leaders and religious personalities, among others.

A detailed five-year plan activities to prevent suicide in the dzongkhag is ready.

“Everything is set, we just need to begin the move towards a bigger target,” Tashi Dawa said. Implementation of the planned suicide prevention activities will begin from the schools, both lower secondary and high schools. The activities include creating awareness by giving talks on the legal aspect of suicide, religious aspect and sensitization on mental illness.

The DHO added that the suicide cases are still reported although people are aware of the government’s initiative on suicide prevention programmes.

Religious figures are also included in the dzongkhag suicide prevention committee to bring larger impact by helping create awareness in the wider rural areas of Tsirang. “Suicide prevention should be a multi-sectoral approach for it to have the expected impact,” Tashi Dawa said.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang