The Suicide Prevention Clinic has treated 155 patients since it opened on July 2016
The thought of committing suicide for at least 35 times in the period of a year reveals the nature of the highly turbulent emotional life Taslima (not her real name) has been leading.
During this period, she has attempted to take her own life twice.
The doctor asked her mother to keep an eye on her when the 22-year-old was taken to the Suicide Prevention Clinic on the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) premises.
"She is at high risk of attempting suicide again any time. Do not keep sleeping pills within her reach. If there is a ceiling fan in her room, remove it and install an air-conditioner. Make sure that she cannot shut the door when she goes to bed," doctor Mohsin Ali Shah told the mother.
Taslima was forced to divorce her husband a year ago because her parents did not like him. She started a relationship after that but a month ago, her boyfriend broke up with her. She felt that life had become too unbearable for her.
The doctor prescribed antidepressant drug Fluoxetine and asked the mother to visit the clinic every week until Taslima got rid of suicidal tendencies.
Jharna (not her real name), 21, has a different story. She has been suffering from poor relationship with her parents, especially her mother, and has already made an attempt to commit suicide.
She came to the clinic on her own, and this was the first time she visited a medical facility to receive treatment for mental health problems.
These are emotionally wrecked people, and doctors see them as suicide patients. They say suicidal tendency is a disease like any other.
Since it opened in July 2016, the Suicide Prevention Clinic has treated 155 patients. Of them, 110 are women, especially teenagers. The youngest patient was a 13-year-old woman and the oldest one was a 50-year-old man.
The clinic was opened to help those who have serious mental health problems and are on the brink of committing suicide. A ticket to consult a doctor costs Tk20, and doctors see patients every Saturday morning.
"We opened the clinic in view of the rising suicide rate in the country. We need to stop it," said Mohsin, associate professor of the Psychology Department at BSMMU.
Suicides on the rise
Police data show the number of suicides is increasing sharply in the recent years. 11,095 people committed suicide in 2017, while in 2016, the number was 10,600. In 2015, 10,500 people took their own lives and a year before, it was 10,200.
On an average, 30 people committed suicide every day in 2017. That year, the highest number of suicides (2,585) was recorded in Barisal.
The police data show that in 2017, 569 committed suicide by hanging themselves while 3,467 took poison, and 59 people set themselves on fire.
Dr Mohsin said people are getting more and more alienated from the society and they do want to share their feelings with others.
Breakups, exam failures lead to suicide
Mekhla Sarkar, associate professor of the National Institute of Mental Health and Hospital, said that people experience crises in their daily lives.
"But they do not receive the necessary mental support to overcome the issues. They feel suicide is their only option to get rid of the troubles," she said.
She explained that there are basically two types of suicide - planned and impulsive suicide. Some people decide to commit suicide suffering long-term depression while the other kind commit suicide because of some sudden turn of events in life.
Generally, students commit suicide when they cannot handle crises, including failure in exams and breakups in romantic relationships. Poor parenting is one of the key reasons for the increase in impulsive suicides in the country.
"It is seen that many parents in Bangladesh give their children whatever they want. This kind of overindulgence is harmful for young people. Young people fail to become capable of handling stress or accepting the reality. This is one of the main reasons behind impulsive suicides," Mekhla pointed out.
"To address this problem, effective parenting is a must. Parents should not give their children whatever they want.
In a 2016 survey that involved collecting information on how people commit suicide from seven newspapers for six months, Mohsin found that the tendency of hanging was the most prevalent method.
Psychologists say people are getting increasingly dependent on technology and social media, increasing the likelihood of loneliness.
"People who are under the age of 30 commit suicide mainly as a result of depression. Stress can cause depression. Interestingly, some forms of depression are genetic too," said Mohsin.
"On the other hand, young people between the age of 13 and 19 tend to commit suicide for scoring poorly in exams, having breakups, disharmony with family members and so on."
The good news is that the 155 patients who were treated in the Suicide Prevention Clinic never attempted suicide again.
"Most of them no longer have suicidal tendencies but some are still receiving treatment," Mohsin said.
Psychological autopsy on the cards
Mohsin said the clinic would soon conduct a survey on psychological autopsy to get a grip on the actual causes of committing suicide.
"We have prepared the protocol and the personnel have been deployed to do the research. Now we are waiting for funds," the doctor said.
Psychological autopsy is the process of collecting information about suicide victims. It involves collecting all available information on the victims by means of structured interviews with family members, relatives and friends as well as any healthcare professional who had attended them.
"Once the survey is done, it will help us know the behaviour and attitude of patients that lead them to commit suicide," said Mohsin.