Prioritizing Suicide Prevention amongst Youth in India

 - Sakshi Post

New Delhi, India: Mariwala Health Initiative organised a National Consultation on Prioritizing Suicide Prevention for Youth in India from 4-5th February, 2023 at the Constitution Club of India.
The event was conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, National Service Scheme (NSS), and Sports Authority of India (SAI)

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare released the first National Suicide Prevention Strategy (NSPS) in November 2022. Its vision is to create a society where people value their lives and are supported when they are in need and MOHFW has committed to reduce suicide rates by 10% by 2030. The NSPS acknowledges that suicide is a complex issue and tackling it will require inter-sectoral collaboration and therefore it has articulated responsibilities and action items for other Ministries including Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs, Ministry of Woman & Child Development etc.

In India, more than 40% of the suicides (as per 2021 NCRB data) are amongst young people below the age of 30 years. The consultation brought together various stakeholders including the relevant ministries, civil society organisations (CSOs) working with young people, mental health organisations and young people from multiple states in
India. As part of the consultation, discussions focused on multiple stressors faced by young people including academia,
employment, relationships etc

Speaking about the need for a national consultation, Ms Priti Sridhar, CEO Mariwala Health Initiative said that “Creation of the National
Suicide Prevention Strategy was the first step towards reducing death due to suicide. It was important for us to listen to young people to understand their stressors and suggestions on suicide prevention strategies. We hope that with this multi stakeholder consultation we are able to design programs that address the issues young people experience, and work with the ministries to achieve reduction in suicide rates.”

Integrating sports as an effective intervention for better mental health outcomes, as well as, the responsibility of the media towards reporting on suicide were also discussed as important touchpoints within Suicide Prevention. A common thread across the conversations was the need to understand the mental health and suicide risks for historically marginalized youth who face considerable challenges owing to their socio-economic status.

Chief of Child Protection, UNICEF India, Ms Soledad Herrero recognised the need for organisations and sectors to come together around addressing the challenge of mental health and suicide prevention in India, especially for the youth. She said “COVID 19 gave us the opportunity to make mental health a priority and UNICEF has partnered with the Indian Government and other key stakeholders on expanding and scaling up initiatives and platforms, to improve psychosocial wellbeing, with a focus on children and young people. India has a unique opportunity for its growth agenda to be led by the youth, but we must bear in mind that it is the children and the young- who are most vulnerable to mental health challenges. It is only with the young people and for the young people when we can actually make a real difference.”

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