Doctors and psychologists cautioned that the suicide rate is highest among young people and that the suicide rate for people up to the age of 29 is expected to rise each passing year.
Suicide is one of the most common causes of death among people between the ages of 15 and 34 and nearly 800,000 people commit suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds, according to WHO. Many more are said to attempt suicide every day. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds worldwide.
Suicide is a global phenomenon. In fact, 78 percent of suicides occurred in low and middle-income countries in 2015. Suicide accounted for 1.4 percent of all deaths worldwide, making it the 17th leading cause of death in 2015, the latest WHO data published in 2015 read.
In Mongolia, suicide is the sixth leading cause of death, reported R.Enkhtuvshin, a doctor at the National Center for Mental Health of Mongolia and a lecturer at the Mongolian National University of Medical Science. Statistics indicate that 411 people commit suicide on average every year in Mongolia. Police records show that 2,055 people took their own life between 2012 and 2016, out of which 1,729 were male and the remaining 326 female.
Mongolia was ranked in 69th place in the Crude Suicide Rate by Country 2017 index with 9.3 suicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Keeping in mind that Mongolia has a relatively small population compared to its vast land, it’s crucial to determine the reason people decide to end their life, work closely with vulnerable groups, and prevent suicidal thoughts and attempts. Otherwise, the rising suicide rate could become a “threat” to the national security.
Doctor R.Enkhtuvshin noted that mental health experts now consider suicide as a social adversity and that it is directly linked to poverty and the economic state. He shared that the suicide rate escalates by 4.5 percent when the unemployment rate rises by one percent. This suggests that people become more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts when they are financially unstable and have no jobs.
Doctor R.Enkhtuvshin went on to explain that besides these causes, there are various reasons that lead people to want to end their own life and one of the most common being depression.
“A person starts to have suicidal thoughts when they lose something precious to them. In other words, a people start to show signs of depression when they are losing the essential values to live by and in the end, they decide to commit suicide,” he said and complained that Mongolia doesn’t have a comprehensive strategy to help people with suicidal thoughts deal with their problems.
Psychiatric counseling centers are available at district hospitals throughout Mongolia, but the number of experts is nowhere near to being sufficient, said a specialist. Psychologists advised opening a mental health center for youth as the quickest and most effective way to lower the suicide rate, especially because young people are more vulnerable to suicide than other age groups.
Last year, the Mongolian National University of Medical Science launched a Psychiatric Counseling Center in consideration that the best suicide countermeasure is assigning a specialist to work with children and adolescents on school grounds. The new center provides counseling for students for free of charge and since its opening, 230 students have received professional assistance, said Doctor R.Enkhtuvshin.
He said, “Most students needed help dealing with challenges related to family conflicts, depression, career decision-making, anxiety, and troubles adjusting to their new school environment and social setting, friendship problems, and addictions. Just recently, I saved eight guys who had resolved to commit suicide. In general, troubled teenagers seek help and advice from their friends, but they really need a professional psychologist who will help them find the way out of their problem.”
Another solution experts recommend is establishing a call center that provides counseling to people with suicidal tendencies through a phone call. These experts aren’t able to see through their plan due to financial struggles and said that the government only needs to give a little bit of a nudge for them to succeed.
Professional counseling isn’t the only option for those troubled by suicidal thoughts. A research team from the Mongolian National University of Medical Science found that spending time with close friends and family, and having an open discussion about their challenges can help a person get rid of their contemplations of ending their life. To prevent individuals from getting suicidal ideation, Doctor R.Enkhtuvshin stressed the need to supervise information published, especially those posted on the internet.
“Last year, our university conducted a study on suicide trends and digital content. Looking at its results, numerous posts and information implying that suicide was wrong are spread on websites, but 33 percent of readers responded that this information instigate suicidal thoughts. Hence, I advise specialists to be very prudent when delivering information about suicide and make sure to review its content beforehand,” he said.
Public comments on suicide
Below are opinions of some random citizens on suicide:
Resident of Khan-Uul District M.Zoljargal:
I don’t have much update on the issue. But solely from what I observed, the ones who are most prone to suicidal thoughts and acts seem to be young adults. The reason could be peer pressure, social norms that deny personal differences or values, or even quite petty details, such as appearance.
As many young adults have very limited experience in the “practical” world, they might have what you can call an illusion of the world to be the way they pictured and so on. When their lives or wishes are not met with their expectations, I believe they might feel very disappointed and discouraged. Because of their little experience in how life works, they might not know that life is very rich with both negative and positive moments. Everything is temporary and with efforts, life offers so much to live for. A lack of understanding that ups and downs are a natural and inseparable part of life could result in suicidal behaviors or doubts, as I believe.
As for adults, power could be the main drive pushing for suicide. With less power and freedom, adults may struggle with life. Another major push could also be personal and professional “success”. As our society cherishes “success” as the most valuable thing in life, many who haven’t reached that success feels like they are of little value. Those who have strong a relationship with their family and support from others can feel stronger, while those who lack intimate relationships with others could also feel, again, of little value.
Student of Etugen University Kh.Lkhagvasuren:
I have never seen a psychologist. I try to talk with friends as much as possible when I’m feeling down. Suicide concerns the individual’s mentality. It’s unfortunate that some people put so little importance on their life. Suicide isn’t a behavior of an intelligent person. Of course, there are many things that make us worry like family and career, but I’ve never thought of committing suicide.
Student at the Mongolian National University of Medical Science B.Boldbolor:
I think that it’s a very stupid issue. If you’ve been granted a precious life, you should see it until the end and enjoy every little thing along the way.
For those who consider suicidal thoughts or behavior, I advise you to be stronger and do things that you enjoy the most instead. For example, you can eat your favorite food, watch a comedy film, or take a nice and relaxing bath.
A resident of Sukhbaatar District who wished to remain anonymous:
I don’t think that suicide rate is that high although I’m not well informed about it. I guess it’s probably very low since the media doesn’t cover this topic much. However, I know most of these incidents happen among teenagers and children because of abusive parents.
I have considered committing suicide. I didn’t receive counseling but I try to think about other things and stay distracted when I’m depressed.
Resident of Sukhbaatar District D.Bayarjargal:
I think that teenagers are committing suicide because of their complicated situations. Parents must become good role models for their children as they play an important role in their psychology. In fact, parents should pay a great deal of attention to their children.
As we all know, life became very challenging for Mongolians ever since we transitioned to a market-based economy. To lead a proper life, most people are focusing on their job and being slightly careless with their children. The situation has come to this, so we need to start paying attention to our children now.
Not only parents but also teachers and social workers should work closely with children. I believe it’s vital for the media to deliver good and correct understanding about this issue and take into account that their articles and reports will influence children’s mental state.