The issues of mental health are still considered a taboo subject in our country and therefore a large number of people are at risk of psychological suffering including depression followed by suicidal tendencies.
The pandemic has exacerbated these issues as self-isolation, social distancing and quarantine have become essential to prevent the transmission of the deadly coronavirus.
According to a national mental health survey, jointly conducted by the Bangladesh government and World Health Organisation (WHO), before the pandemic in 2018-19, about 92 percent of adults with mental health problems did not get any treatment and 94 percent of youths aged between 18 and 23 with mental health problems also did not receive any treatment.
The survey provides a picture of how mental health issues are ignored in our country.
Popular actor Riaz Ahmed’s father-in-law Abu Mohsin Khan committed suicide by shooting himself streaming it live on Facebook on Wednesday night.
Before committing suicide he expressed his frustration over many issues including his loneliness.
Before dying, he said, “If I die in my house, I don't think anyone would know in a week.”
He had been suffering from cancer and living alone in Bangladesh for a long time. His son and wife live in Australia.
Tareq Shamsur Rahman, a retired professor of International Relations Department, Jahangirnagar University, was found dead at his flat in Dhaka's Uttara on April 17 2021. He was also living alone in the flat as his family lived abroad.
Rokonuddin Ahmed, a former teacher of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) was also found dead in his own house in January, 2021. His son, who was living with him at the moment, came to know of his father's death due to the bad smell of body decomposition in the house.
According to the news published in media, 11 thousand people have committed suicide during the pandemic in 2021.
Dr Helal Uddin Ahmed, Associate Professor of Child, Adolescent and Family Psychiatry in the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) told Bangladesh Post that the number of suicides has increased with the development of civilization.
“It has increased so much that the number is higher than the number of murders. Suicide and depressions are the bi-product of civilization. Most of the elderly people of our country suffer from depression but they do not take any help to improve their mental health. Those who fail to cope with this depression eventually commit suicide.”
He mentioned that empty nest syndrome is very common among the elderly people of our country.
“It refers to the complicated emotions that parents experience when their children leave home. The people of western countries still somehow find a way to cope with it but the people of our country are not used to this type of situation. Even a few years ago only extended families existed. There were hardly any nuclear families in our country,” he said.
He further said that according to research, suicide rates are higher among males above the age of 40 in western countries and the main reason behind this is depression.
“Awareness must be created among the people regarding the importance of mental well-being. We must learn to take care of our mental health,” he added.
Talking to Bangladesh Post, Prof Rasheda Irshad Nasir, Chairperson of the Department of Sociology at Dhaka University said, “Legendary Greek philosopher Aristotle has said that man is by nature a social animal. Isolation has an adverse effect on human beings irrespective of age.”
She said that elderly people become dependent on their children after a certain age just like infants are dependent on their parents.
“They expect their children to look after them. However, due to the nature of our occupation, daily life pattern and many other reasons, it does not become possible for children to live with their parents. Sometimes it becomes hard to adjust with each other. It’s not always the children but the parents also often face a hard time adjusting with their children,” she added.