Suicides galore in Sri Lanka
By Raisa Wickrematunge
average of 12 people commit suicide a day in Sri Lanka,
and there are 10 times more attempted suicides,
according to Director of Sumithrayo Sri Lanka, Surangi
However Gunawardena said that the suicide rate has
actually declined since 1995.
had one of the highest suicide rates, with around 47
suicides per 100,000 persons. Now, Gunawardena estimated
the rate at about 20 suicides per 100,000 persons.
rate has declined, but it is still too high.”
Gunawardena said the highest suicide rates were among
the younger age groups, particularly tho
between the ages of 18 and 30. The rate also increased
after the age of 60, according to the Director.
Gunawardena added that it was usually a combination of
psychological and social reasons, which lead to a
suicidal situation. The three main factors, she noted
were “inability to cope with difficult situations,
mental health problems, and drug or alcohol abuse.”
noted that social and peer pressures were leading
factors for teen suicides. However, even children as
young as seven or eight have been known to attempt
are also differences according to gender. More women
than men say they have contemplated suicide, although
more men have taken their own lives.
Gunawardena noted that media reports, which
sensationalised suicide and gave details about the
methods used often lead to “copycat suicides.”
Gunawardena noted that the current rate of 120 attempted
suicides a day was worrying.
Meanwhile, Sumithrayo Sri Lanka, in a press release
recently said that as attempted suicide was no longer
considered a criminal offence, the majority of attempts
were unrecorded. Gunawardena attributed the rising
number of attempts to a lack of knowledge about
resources available to the depressed.
Sumithrayo Sri Lanka has been operating for around 35
years, as a suicide prevention organisation. Their
services are offered free of charge. They claim to
“provide emotional support to people who are
experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including
those that may lead to suicide.”
Globally, one person commits suicide every 40 seconds,
while there is an attempted suicide every three seconds.