Suicide in Bhutan

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Suicide in Bhutan in recent years has become a notable phenomenon in the small Himalayan kingdom, which promotes Gross National Happiness as a government policy. As the Kingdom of Bhutan adheres to Tibetan Buddhism for its state religion,[1] the mere discussion of suicide and the means of tackling it have been generally seen as socially taboo amongst most Bhutanese.[2]

Under Bhutanese law, the act of committing suicide is itself not illegal, but abetting a suicide is regarded as a crime. The suicide rate has been widely discussed about Bhutanese refugees, who tend to be of Nepalese origin,[3] as unemployment, lack of family ties and depression ensue.[4]

The suicide rate of Bhutan is 16.2 per 100,000. This figure ranks the kingdom as the 20th-highest suicide rate in the world, and 6th highest in the Asia-Pacific region.[5]

The above figures were based on 2011 data. Since, the number of recorded deaths has increased by around 50% for the years 2012 and 2013,[6] which clearly places the Himalayan Kingdom among the countries with the highest suicide rates in the world. Bhutan is currently rated at number five in the Asia Region.[7] While no clear indications are given for the country's high rate of suicide, lack of job opportunities, an extremely high percentage of broken families and a high rate of domestic violence are considered to be major contributing factors.