Port Blair, June 16: The inaugural ceremony & ‘Policy Dialogue’ on ‘Developing Implementation Model for Suicide Prevention in Schools & Colleges of A&NI’ was held yesterday under the chairmanship of Commissioner-cum- Secretary (Health), Smt Nandini Paliwal, IAS. The meeting was attended by representatives from the Health Department, Education Department, A&N Police & NGOs. As per NCRB, 2022, the suicide rate in India is 12 per 100,000 of the population in 2021, reflecting a 6.2% increase from the previous year.

To address the challenge of increasing mental health issues and preventable tragedy of suicide, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GoI has launched a Multi- State project in 8 States/UT including ANI. The project aims to develop and test the scalability of a package of interventions in a sample of schools and colleges across Assam, ANI, Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Rajasthan to improve the mental health of children in schools and colleges. The goal is to reduce the unfortunate events of suicide in the country by scaling the model, once its implementation mechanisms and effectiveness is established, after submission of report by the participating States by early 2027. The Health Department, with technical support of National Health Mission has taken lead, wherein ANIIMS organized a ‘Policy Dialogue’ in collaboration with Police, Education, Social Welfare, NGOs and independent researchers to discuss the formative phase to pave the path towards developing the SoPs for this crucial initiative.

The suicide rate in A&NI is almost four times the National average. This program intends to develop implementable strategies to prevent such avoidable and unfortunate happenings. It is a national health research priority, since it can have long-lasting effect on individuals, families, and communities.

Suicide prevention is a collection of efforts to reduce the risk of suicide, strengthening health care services, building community support, stigma alleviation and developing measures for early detection of high risk and timely referral. Preventing suicide requires collective efforts and inclusive strategies across all sectors. This initiative by ANI Administration with technical support of ANIIMS under NHM will not only develop an intervention model for the ANI that will educate parents, teachers and students to timely identify the warning signs of poor/deteriorating mental health but will also promote help seeking, healthy habits along with building resilience, and is a marker of a sense of deep commitment to social change.