Factors in the deaths include conflict over personal relationships, depression, poverty, and unemployment
An alarming rise in the number of reported suicides by students of Dhaka University (DU) this year has led to calls for improvement to be made in the provision of mental health services.
The latest tragedy is that of Huzaifa Rashid, who took his own life at his paternal home in Tongi on Thursday.
His passing brings the total number of suicides reported among DU students this year to nine, with four of them occurring over the 10 days between November 12 and 22.
This is the same number as in the three-year period from 2015 to 2017.
Factors in the deaths include conflict over personal relationships, depression, poverty, and unemployment.
One of the nine is a former student, while another studied at the College of Home Economics. The other seven were students of DU itself when they took their lives, with one student committing suicide inside the DU premises.
Eminent psychiatrist and a professor in the DU Educational and Counseling Psychology Department, Dr Mehtab Khanam, told the Dhaka Tribune that parents, caregivers and academic staff should look for indications of problems in their children, patients and students.
“We need a talented workforce to render services for mental health,” she said. “Unexpected deaths can be prevented if brilliant, experienced, passionate and hard-working psychiatrists cure such patients.
“We need such an enthusiastic workforce who will just listen to our children. Their main duty will be not giving suggestions, but to listen, realize the patient’s mental situation from their body language or the way they talk.
“Parents need to be careful about their children. They have to understand their problems and should provide free space.”
Dr Mehtab Khanam said children should be encouraged to participate in cultural activities.
“Previously, students were more involved with cultural activities in their educational institutions (but) now, very few are. Society and families have to encourage students to join cultural programs and organizations.”
The DU professor said the media could also look at how it reports such cases.
“Mass media has to play a responsible role by giving less importance to self-harm deaths while covering news of such incidents,” she said. “They should follow the international guidelines given by World Health Organization (WHO) for publishing such issues.”