The tragic stories of school children committing suicide are on the rise. For a small country, like Bhutan, the number of suicide cases is disconcerting, to say the least.
Mentioning the suicide cases in Bumthang and Dremetse, the Dremetse-Ngatsang MP, Ugyen Wangdi, asked the Education Minister on the measures taken by the ministry to prevent the future occurrences of such cases, especially among the school children.
The Dremetse- Ngatsang MP said one of the main causes that drive students to committing suicide is the relationship between boys and girls within the school vicinity. They commit suicide fearing the blame, consequence and aftermath, after the school authorities come to know of the relationship.
Following the question, the Education Minister, Mingbo Drukpa, said that the number of suicide cases are high and it is a cause of serious concern.
Lyonpo said that it is apparent that the suicide case is increasing lately, and as per the Royal Bhutan Police report, within a period of five years from 2009-2013, there have been about 347 suicide cases reported. Among which, about 15% is within the age range of 15- 20 years.
According to the case of suicide reported to the Education Ministry, a total of 24 students have committed suicide within four years, and beginning 2014, 11 students have committed suicide, therefore, increasing the number greatly comparing to previous years.
In order to prevent such unfortunate cases in the future, the Education Minister said that the present government has formed multi-sectoral task force that is headed by the Prime Minister, and the policy and programs are under process.
The Education Ministry, upon a thorough research on the causes that lead a person to commit suicide, have found out that most of them are drug addicts or are under the influence of alcohol, while some are due to the lack of parental care or unkind treatment from the parents and families.
As pointed out, the reason as to why many youth take their lives is the fear that comes from being found out about their love affairs in schools. Since school authorities are stringent on such matters, the students, fearing the repercussion of being expelled from schools, and the reprimanding from the parents, take the desperate step to end their lives.
Therefore, the feeling of failure, to live up to the expectations of their parents and families, and being unable to face disappointments, humiliation, etc., all add to factors driving the youth to contemplating suicide.
Studying the causes of suicide in schools, the Education Ministry has increased the full time counselors, from 20 to 56, within two years. And in higher schools, the government has deployed 87 full time counselors, and still more would be deployed.
Parenting program, children at risk, life/live skills education, and youth to youth program are being initiated in 135 schools across the country. Further, the Education Ministry has also started awareness program across the country.
Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay also supplemented that the number of suicide cases in the country is unusually high and alarming. He said the growing number of suicide cases should give a cause for concern, considering the small population of the country, and everyone needs to do something to prevent it.
Lyonchhen also said that multi-sectoral task force, with 36 members, from Health Ministry, Education Ministry, and RENEW, visited various dzongkhags where suicide cases was reported and have met with the parents, family members, and friends of the deceased to determine the cause of the suicide. Since 2009, the multi-sectoral task force worked on 361 suicide cases, meeting with 319 families.
“The precise cause of the suicide is unable to be determined,” Lyonchhen said. In general, Lyonchhen said that 50% have committed suicide under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and the committee found out that 143 of the deceased have committed suicide under intoxication.
Meanwhile, depression, joblessness, failing in examinations, money problems, worries and love affairs in the school are the other causes of suicide. 10 % for the cause of suicide is unknown
According to Lyonchhen, alcohol and drugs are the significant cause of suicide. In order to prevent further cases of suicide, the substance abusers and those found in possession of controlled substance are nabbed and dealt as per the law.
According to the WHO report, there were 64 cases of suicide 2013, 88 cases in 2012, 66 cases in 2011, 57 cases in 2010 and 72 cases of suicide in 2009.
Lyonchhen said that as of today, 879 people have been arrested for peddling drugs, and out of that, 227 have been convicted and they are in prison. He further said that 355 have been convicted.
Lyonchhen said that government has proposed an amendment on Drugs and Narcotic Act, which will hand out serious sentencing to those violating the drugs and narcotic law.