Suicide among children, young on the rise in Vavuniya

[TamilNet, Saturday, 03 March 2001, 12:59 GMT]
There is an alarming increase of suicide among children and young people in Vavuniya, according to study released this week. The Vavuniya Medical Officer of Health and the Nelukkulam Public Health Inspector, the researchers who did the study said that war related poverty, stress and displacement were the main causes for suicide among the young. Seventy-nine children under 10 who had attempted to commit suicide were admitted to the Vavuniya Hospital last year.

Sixty eight percent (470 persons) of all those who were treated here in 2000 following suicide attempts were between 11 and 40 years. Suicides and suicide attempts last year increased by 31 percent from 1999, according to the study. Thirty four percent of the suicide attempts were among the inmates of refugee camps. The actual number could be much higher because the study was limited only to those who were admitted to the Vavuniya Base Hospital, the researchers said.

The study does not take into account cases that were sent to Anuradhapura and Colombo according to the Vavuniya MOH, Dr. A Ketheeswaran and the Nelukkulam PHI, MrK. Mayjeya.

The following is the full text of the report:


It is wellknown that the suicide rate in Sri Lanka is the second highest in the world following Hungury. It is unfortunate that the suicide rate is higher in the underdeveloped aricultrual districts like Pollonnaruwa. Anuradhapura, Vavuniya and Batticaloa. It is also to be noted that the access and quality of medical care for the suicide attemptors are below the required standard.

The public awareness regarding this acuter social problem is not in the expected level in these areas.

The report attempts to analys the suicide situation in Vavuniya District and high light the gravity of the situation and thereby to create public awareness.

It is to be noted that it is extremely difficult to collect the very accurate data on suicide attempts as few of the suicide attempts were hidden in the society.


Place of Survey : Vavuniya District

Study Design : Descriptive Cross Sectional Survey

Data Collection :

The data were collected at the Base Hospital Vavuniya. The particulars of the completed suicides and the suicide attempts were collected from the records.

The deaths of the patients, who were transferred to GH Anuradhapur/ Colombo for special care following suicide attempts, were not included in these data.

Period of survey : Year 2000

3.Results and Analysis

Table 3.1: Particulars about the completed suicides in the pase three years in vavuniya District

Year Number of completed suicides
1998 58
1999 61
2000 62

Table 3.2: Comparision of suicide attempt in Vavuniya District in years 1999 and 2000.

Period Number of Suicide attempts
01/01/1999 - 31/08/1999 311
01/01/2000 - 31/08/2000 407

It is unfortunate to note that the number of suicides and suicides and suicide attempts (31%) are in increasing trend in Vavuniya District.

Table 3.3: Comparision of completed suicides and suicide attempts in year 2000 in Vavuniya District.

Detail NumberRate per 10.000 Population
Completed suicides 624.4
Suicide attempts 69149.4

The suicide rate and the suicide attempt rate are very high in Vavuniya District

Table 3.4 Proportion of completed suicides within all causes, deaths in year 2000 registered at Base Hospital, Vavuniya.

Details NumberPercentage
Completed suicides 6212.0
Other causes deaths 45288.0
Total number of deaths 514100.0

12% of the deaths were due to suicides.

Note: The deaths due to suicide attempts at GH anuradhapura/Colombo following transfer for special care were not included.

The complete suicides by self-poisioning and self-burning were only included in these data. The suicides by hanging and other methods were not included.

Table 3.5: An outcome analysis of suicide attempts in year 2000 registered at BH Vavuniya.

Outcome of suicide attempts NumberPercentage
Deaths 629.0
Recovered 52676.1
Transferred to GH A-pura 10314.9
Total 691100.0

9% of the suicide attempts were ended up as completed suicides, About 76% was recovered. But the outcome of the patients who were transferred to GH Anuradhapura for special care was not known. It was practically difficult to trace the above data.

Table 3.6: Monthly variation of suicide attempts in year 2000.

Month NumberPercentage
January 375.3
February 517.3
March 527.3
April 7611.0
May 7310.6
June 7010.1
July 568.1
August 598.5
September 507.2
October 6710.0
November 507.2
December 507.2
Total 691100.0

It has been observed that the suicide attempts were increased in the months of April, Many and June

Table 3.7:Sex variation among the suicide attempts.

Sex NumberPercentage
Male 37654.4
Female 31545.6
Total 691100.0

Table 3.8: Sex variation among the completed suicides.

Sex NumberPercentage
Male 4670.0
Female 1626.0
Total 62100.0

Table 3.9: Frequency distribution of suicide attempts by method of suicide attempts.

Method of suicide attempt NumberPercentage
Self Posioning 60287.1
Self burning 588.4
Other methods 314.5
Total 691100

Table 3.10: Frequency distribution of completed suicides by methods

Method of suicide attempt NumberPercentage
Self Posioning 3150.0
Other methods 3150.0
Total 62100

Self-poisioning was the deminant method of suicide attempt

Table 3.11: Frequency distribution of various items used for self poisioning

Item NumberPercentage
Pesticide 24340.0
Yellow oleander (allari) Seeds 15225.2
Malathion 315.1
Kerosine 538.8
Petrol 050.8
Mosquito Coil 050.8
Other 11318.9
Total 602100.0

Pesticides and the yellow oleander (Allari) seed were commonly used for self-poisioning.

Table 3.12: Friquency distribution of suicide attempts by age

Age Group (in years) NumberPercentage
0-10 7911.4
11-20 10114.6
21-30 20429.5
31-40 16523.9
41-50 9814.1
51-60 375.4
Over 60 01.1
Total 691100.0

Suicide attempts highly prevalant among the young people (21-40yrs)

Table 3.13: Proportion of suicide attempts among the inmates of welfare centres.

Details NumberPercentage
Inmates of welfare centres 23834.4
Outside general population 45365.6
Total 691100.0

34.4% of the suicide attempts were among the inmates of the welfare contres.

Table 3.14: Comarision of suicide attempt rate between the welfare centres inmates and outside general population.

Details NumberPopulationSuicide attempt rate per 10,000 population
Inmates of welfare centres 23823,000103.5
Outside general population 4531,20,000 37.5
Total 6911,43,00048.3

Suicide attempts are prevalant three times more among the welfare centre inmates than the outside general population.

Table 3.15: Variation of suicide attempts among the welfare centres.

Name of the Welfare centres NumberPopulationSuicide attempt rate per 10,000 population
Sithamparapuram 33701247.0
Poonthoddam 1439868 145.0
Vepankulam 191368138.9
Nelukulam 171022166.3
Sanasa 13375 346.6
Adapankulam 04146627.3
Kovitpuliankulam 091876 48.0
Total 23822.987103.5

Suicide attempt rate was high in welfare centres sanasa. Nclukulam, Poonthoddam and Vepankulam


  • .The suicide rate and suicide attempt rate were high in Vavuniya District.
  • 2. There was an increasing trend in suicide rate and suicide attempt rate in Vavuniya District.
  • 3. Males outnumbered females in suicides and suicide attempts.
  • 4. Suicides and suicide attempts were highly prevalant among the young age group (21-40 years)
  • 5. Suicide attempts were prevalant three times more among the welfare centre inmates than the outside general population.
  • 6. Self poisioning was the dominant method of suicide attempt
  • 7. Pesticides and yellow oleander (Alari) seeds were commonly used for self ń poisioning.

    5) Recommendations

  • 1. Counseling facilities should be organized for the survivors of suicide attempts as they are more prone to re-attempts.
  • 2. Confidential counseling services should be made available for the people in distress.
  • 3. Medical facilities should be improved to reduce the mortality from suicide attempts at the district level
  • 4. Yellow oleander (Allari) trees should be destroyed at village levels by organizing shramadana campaigns.
  • 5. Must encure that the malathion should not be available in the private sector.
  • 6. Must identify the problems among the young people and try to solve them as far as possible, specially unemployment.
  • 7. Sports and entertainment facilities should be made available at cach village and welfare centre. And the recreational activities should be encouraged and supporied
  • 8. The suicide rate is very high among the displaced people specially among the inmates of the welfare centres.


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