Saturday, November 22, 2014

On a Suicidal Spiral

The fact that suicides are a major worry for Sikkim is universally accepted, and yet nothing is being attempted to redress the situation

This section returns to this worry too often, and that in itself should be a matter of concern because it means that not enough is being done at any level to address the disconcerting prevalence of suicides in Sikkim. School kids, newlyweds, the elderly and even the gainfully employed continue to take their own lives across the State and across the socioeconomic strata.
This newspaper had started reporting on suicide cases in the hope that as readers started noticing the unnerving frequency with which people were ending their lives in Sikkim, some earnest initiative will shake out of the collective concern. While some noises were made initially, and even some sensitisation programmes attempted, nothing meaningful has materialised to address the issue. It appears that a news-report of another suicide has even stopped shocking people anymore, and if anything, has inured them to the problem. Worryingly, it is also plausible that the routine occurrence of suicides has convinced those with suicidal tendencies that taking one’s own life is not such an aberration or as “wrong” as they have been led to believe. May be the frequency of suicides has robbed it of the shock element. But it should shock. There are few things more disturbing than parents waking up strangled gasps of their child attempting suicide, or a father discovering that his daughter has taken her life in his room and for reasons everyone had sympathised with, but no one had taken seriously enough to find counsel for her. Also traumatic must have been the horror of the 10-year-old in rural East Sikkim who returned home from tuition classes to discover his mother’s dead body hanging from a ceiling fan. Those who have not had to deal with the confusion, trauma and even guilt of having a near one commit suicide cannot even begin to fathom the shock that those left behind suffer.

Of course, time heals, but time can also be better utilised if Sikkim sat down and worked out how it plans to deal with the situation. Suicides are no longer aberrations, and return too often to haunt Sikkim and claim fathers, mothers, grandparents, even children. It is also obvious that the psychiatric help which keeps things in balance in one’s mind is not adequately available in Sikkim. Contemplating suicide is one thing, to actually commit it quite another. Obviously, not everyone does it, but those whose mental make-up has been debilitated by an unnoticed and untreated ailment are more prone to attempt it. Depression is rampant in Sikkim and although more people are coming forward nowadays to seek medical help, there are too many who still obviously don’t. With the comforting cushion of a large family gone, the pressures of modern lifestyles get the better of many and some snap under it. It is an accepted fact that a majority of the suicides can be prevented if the right psychiatric help or counsel is made available at the right time. Sikkim needs to figure out how it will do so. And do so fast, before another minor stumbles on to a suicide by a family member or another parent learns of a suicide by a child...

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