Attempted suicide by women, girls on the rise?
KABUL, 6 August 2010 (IRIN) - Former Deputy Health
Minister Faizullah Kakar recently completed a study
(published in Dari) indicating that rising numbers of
women and girls aged 15-40 are attempting suicide in
Afghanistan. His findings were presented at a news
conference in Kabul on 31 July.
The study, based on Health Ministry records and
hospital reports, said an estimated 2,300 women or
girls were attempting suicide annually - mainly due to
mental illness, domestic violence and/or
socio-economic hardship. “This is a several-fold
increase on three decades ago,” said Kakar, currently
a health adviser to President Hamid Karzai.
Social disorder, loss of loved ones, displacement,
food insecurity, poverty, illiteracy, drug addiction,
and lack of access to healthcare services - all caused
or aggravated by over three decades of war - also
played their part, said Kakar.
Kakar says about 1.8 million women and girls in the
15-40 age bracket have “severe depression”.
His findings have not been confirmed by the
Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) or the Ministry of
Women’s Affairs (MoWA): A gender-based violence
database maintained by MoWA has recorded over 1,900
cases of violence against women and only 37 suicides
in the past two years, but it is based on reported
cases only and is therefore assumed to underestimate
the true situation.
There are indications from other sources, however,
which back up Kakar’s thesis.
The number of patients seeking treatment at a
mental diseases hospital managed by the NGO
International Assistance Mission (IAM) in the western
province of Herat has been rising steadily over the
past few years.
“We receive about 50 patients every day,” said
Khadim Hussain Rahimi, an official at the hospital,
adding that the number was significantly higher than
in 2000 when the hospital was opened.
Also, of the over 100 cases of self-immolation
registered at the burns ward of Herat City Hospital
over the past 15 months, 76 had died, officials said.
“A lot of the women who commit self-immolation or
suicide suffer from mental disorder,” said Mohammad
Arif Jalali, head of the hospital’s burns ward.
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[This report does not necessarily
reflect the views of the United Nations]