Badri Chapagain, the district health officer of Jumla, received a phone call as
we finished dinner in his quarters last month. The hospital was summoning him to
confirm the cause of death of a suspected suicide.
Next day, reports on Radio Karnali and bajar talk revealed that an ex-Maoist, Sagar,
had hanged himself in the room where his wife was sleeping. Sagar’s suicide echoed
the distress of the many mental patients we saw at a three-day health camp in Jumla
organised by the district health office and World Vision at the request of CPN-M
leaders to coincide with their Karnali exhibition. With the flag of the Maoist Republican
People’s Health Movement fluttering above us, we examined cadres and locals suffering
from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other psychiatric
As in the rest of the country, Jumla lacks a basic mental health infrastructure.
The approximately 30 psychiatrists in Nepal are all in major cities. Few health
post workers have training in mental illness. Psychiatric medications are rare outside
urban centres. Most psychiatric patients....(click here to read article in full)