'Suicides by children very serious social issue': SC seeks Centre's reply on PIL

The top court was hearing a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) filed by lawyer Gaurav Kumar Bansal, highlighting the issue of suicides by adolescents in the national capital.
 Supreme Court of India.
Supreme Court of India.(Photo | PTI)

Noting that the rising number of suicides is a "very serious social issue," the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Union Health Ministry to apprise it about the steps taken, and that would be taken in future, by them to prevent suicides in India.

"Suicides by children is a very serious social issue. Let them (Centre & respective authorities) file a counter affidavit," a three-judge bench of the top court led by CJI D Y Chandrachud and also comprising Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said in its order on Thursday.

The top court was hearing a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) filed by lawyer Gaurav Kumar Bansal, highlighting the issue of suicides by adolescents in the national capital. In his petition, Bansal said that as per RTI replies provided by Delhi Police, more than 400 students under 18 years of age died by suicide in the national capital between 2014 and 2018.

Bansal sought a direction from the top court to all the states to start a project for providing aid, support and advice to persons with suicidal thoughts through call centres/helplines in their respective states and UTs. "The Centre should also provide aid, support and advice to persons with suicidal thoughts through call centres/helplines at national level," Bansal said in his petition filed before the top court.

Stressing the need of awareness and counselling, Bansal said there should be better consultation facilities in schools and colleges and better coordination between state authorities and schools to tackle the serious issue.

He also said that as provided under Section 29 and Section 115 of the Mental Healthcare Act, counselling and timely treatment was the key to address the issue.

Health being a state subject, it is the duty of states and UTs, and respective authorities to plan, design and implement public health programmes which can reduce and prevent the suicides in their respective area, his plea said.

At the same time, the petitioner underlined the need to have specific data to understand the gravity of the situation. He alleged that states and the Centre have failed in collecting data with regard to suicides.

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