LAHORE    -   An international seminar on self-harm and suicide prevention was held at a local hotel on Tuesday.

The sitting was organised by the Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning (PILL). The international and local speakers including psychiatrists and psychologists emphasised on the self-harm and suicide prevention during the conference as theme of World Mental Health Day this year was Focus on Suicide Prevention.

Speaking on the occasion, PILL CEO Professor Nasim Chaudhry said: “Mental health is as important as the physical and therefore there is a need to prioritise mental health in Pakistan. The PILL is a non-profit organization working for last 22 years in Pakistan with a mission to improve the health and wellbeing of people with an emphasis on mental health difficulties.”

She said that PILL would establish a self-harm and suicide prevention centre in Pakistan in January 2020. It will be the first of its kind in Pakistan that will also have the inputs of international collaborators and experts from the University of Manchester, she added.

King Edward Medical University Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Khalid Masood Gondal said that the mental health was very important and therefore the psychiatry department of KEMU was working rigorously on the subject. “The developed countries are very advanced in the research and we should also follow them in this regard,” he said. He added that the PILL was doing great work in mental health and the KEMU was ready to provide its support to the institution.

Prof Imran Chaudhry, Chairman Department of Psychiatry Ziauddin Hospital, said that they were engaging the community and also holding meetings with the policy makers of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to remove stigma associated with the suicide. “We are creating multiple linguistic literature on the subject and also introducing culturally adapted therapies while presenting the research of Pakistanis at the international levels,” said Chaudhry, who is also an honorary Prof of Adult Psychiatry at the University of Manchester. We are also arranging capacity building workshops for young psychologists and psychiatrists in foreign countries by international experts, he added.

Usman Arshad, a research psychologist, said that there was a dire need to work on the suicide prevention as a person is committing suicide in every 40 seconds worldwide, according to the WHO. “The suicide is the second largest cause of death among the age of 15-35 and 10th largest cause of death on the whole as one million people die annually due to suicide,” said Arshad. He was of the view that unfortunately we don’t have actual facts and figures of suicide incidents in Pakistan because people don’t report them due to the stigma and police activities associated with it. There is a need to decriminalise the act of suicide in Pakistan as it may be helpful to know the actual figures of suicide, he added.

Director Research of Global Mental

Prof Karina Lovell from the University of Manchester, Uzma Omer and other experts also spoke on the suicide prevention. The short documentaries were shown and poster competition with catchy slogans was also held in the conference. The conference was also attended by Head of Psychology Department of Punjab University Dr Saima Dawood, Head of Psychiatry Department Services Hospital Dr Sameera Qambar, Head of Psychology Department BZU Multan Dr Sarwat Sultan, Dr Noorul Zaman from Phoenix Foundation, Dr Altaf Qadir of Lahore General Hospital, Dr Suleman Shehzad of Shaukat Khanum Hospital and a large number of students and teachers.