Suicide on the Indian subcontinent

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The Indian subcontinent comprises eight countries (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bhutan, and the Maldives) and a collective population of more than 1.3 billion people. 10% of the world's suicides (more than 100,000 people) take place in just three of these countries, viz. India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. There is very little information on suicides from the other four countries. Some differences from suicides in Western countries include the high use of organophosphate insecticides, larger numbers of married women, fewer elderly subjects, and interpersonal relationship problems and life events as important causative factors. There is need for more and better information regarding suicide in the countries of the Indian subcontinent. In particular, studies must address culture-specific risk factors associated with suicide in these countries. The prevention of this important public health problem in an area of the world with myriad socio-economic problems, meager resources, and stigmatization of mental illness poses a formidable challenge to mental health professionals, policy makers, and governments of these countries.