'1,294 minors committed suicide in Delhi in last 5 yrs'

'1,294 minors committed suicide in Delhi in last 5 yrs'

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 A total of 1,294 minors killed themselves in the national capital in the past five years, the Delhi police informed the Supreme Court in response to a plea seeking effective implementation of a public health programme for prevention of suicides in the country.

In an affidavit filed in the top court, the police said it is following the mandate of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 "in letter and spirit".

It said it is maintaining the data with respect to suicides in the National Capital Territory and in the last five years, 1,294 suicidal deaths of people below the age of 18 have been reported.

Giving the year-wise data, Delhi police said in 2014-188, 2015-211, 2016-227, 2017-242, 2018-277 and in 2019-149 deaths by suicide were reported of children below the age of 18 years.

It, however, said in past five years till September 15, 2019, no case of attempt to suicide by children below the age of 18 years have been reported in the NCT of Delhi.

The affidavit has been filed by Delhi Police in response to a plea by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, who also sought a direction to all states and Union Territories to start a project to provide support and advice through call centres and helplines to persons with suicidal thoughts.

The plea is likely to come up for hearing on January 24, before a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, which last year sought responses from the Centre and all states and UTs.

"It is humbly stated that the Delhi police has been vigilant in its duties under the (Mental Healthcare) Act and has made every effort to fulfil the commitment under the Act. The Delhi police has nominated investigating officers to attend orientation programmes held by Delhi Judicial Academy for sensitisation and awareness of investigating officers on Mental Healthcare issues," the police said in its affidavit.

On August 2, 2019, the top court issued notice to all states and UTs on the plea of Bansal, which said the failure of authorities in "drafting, designing and implementing public health programme for the prevention and reduction of suicides in India is not only violative of section 29 and 115 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, but is also in violation of Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution of India."

Bansal, referring to the suicides committed by children in the national capital, has alleged in his plea that the Delhi government has "failed to provide a healthy social atmosphere".

The plea said all states and UTs have failed to implement provisions of the Mental Healthcare Act and they should be directed to take steps to prevent suicides in their jurisdiction.

It said authorities should be asked to provide status report on the steps taken by them to implement public health programme for prevention of suicides.

Referring to the World Health Organization's report 'Preventive Suicide – a Global Imperative', the petitioner said young people are among the most affected and suicide is now the second leading cause of death for those between the age of 15 and 29 globally. 

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