A NEW study by the Harvard Medical School (the first of its kind) -- presented recently to UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali -- warns of an alarming rise in mental health problems in developing nations, caused by changing demographic, political and economic conditions, wars, natural disasters and abuse of women and children. The study ranks suicide as 1 of the major causes of death among the young; Sri Lanka heads the world with a suicide rate of 62.3 per 100,000. Instances of schizophrenia, mental retardation and epilepsy are also higher in low-income societies compared to industrialised nations. The authors of the study have proposed an agenda for action and research and have urged governments and international agencies to give priority to mental, behavioural and social health.
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